Even if you can’t make it to the Kentucky Derby, you can still make a classic Mint Julep. This cool and refreshing drink is so easy to make and can be enjoyed all year round, especially on a hot day!
I’m not a drinker, southern gal, or into big brimmed hats, but I think it would be super fun to attend the Kentucky Derby and sip on a Mint Julep!
What is a Mint Julep
A Mint Julep is the signature drink of the Kentucky Derby held every year on the first Saturday in May. Historically, close to 120,000 drinks are served during the derby weekend. WHOA. Located at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, it’s actually the longest running sporting event in the United States. People come from all over to attend. Those who can’t make it in person, watch on TV and suck down Mint Juleps in sports bars or their living rooms. The flavor is a little sweet, a little smoky, and minty.
Mint Julep Recipe
Because of its association with the Kentucky Derby, a lot of people might think this drink is fancy and complicated to make, but in fact, it’s incredibly easy. Our Mint Julep Recipe contains the perfect ratio of ingredients and flavors and can be enjoyed anytime, and especially on a warm day to help cool off.
Mint Julep Ingredients
Super cool and refreshing, you only need Kentucky bourbon, simple syrup, fresh mint, and ice. That’s it!
- Bourbon: Bourbon is the star of this drink, so try and use a quality brand. Woodford Reserve is the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, but go ahead and use your favorite.
- Simple Syrup: Simple syrup is just a reduction of sugar and water to create a sweet syrup-like consistency. We make our own (recipe is in the printable card below), but you can absolutely buy it to save yourself a step. But don’t skip it! You need the sugar to balance out the bitterness from the booze. Avoid using just granulated sugar or your drink will be grainy.
- Mint: Fresh mint leaves are a must.
- Ice: Classic mint juleps are served with a ton of crushed ice.
What is the Difference Between Mint Juleps and Mojitos?
These two drinks are very similar. They both contain fresh mint and a simple syrup, but a mint julep doesn’t have any citrus juice like a mojito does, and it uses bourbon instead of rum.
How to Make a Mint Julep
- Make the simple syrup (we included instructions in the printable recipe card below.) Or you can buy it.
- Muddle the mint and syrup in a glass.
- Fill the glass 3/4 full with crushed ice.
- Pour in the bourbon and a splash of cold water.
- Stir well until the glass becomes frosty.
- Garnish with a fresh mint sprig and enjoy!
For exact measurements, scroll below to the printable recipe.
How to Serve a Kentucky Derby Mint Julep
At the Kentucky Derby, mint juleps are traditionally served in pretty silver cups and held by the handle or rim so the drink remains frosty. If you don’t have a silver or pewter cup, it’s perfectly ok! Simply use a small tumbler, old fashioned glass, or Collins glass instead. Be sure to garnish with fresh mint leaves, which adds a touch more flavor and pretty color to the drink. (Tip! Gently rub the mint between your fingers before adding it to the cocktail. This will release the mint oils and make it more aromatic.)
This is a strong drink! If you’re not used to sipping on bourbon, you might find it too strong. Feel free to add more simple syrup and water to make it sweeter and tone it down a bit.
Non-Alcoholic Mint Julep: This is a boozy drink, where bourbon is the star. If you really like all the other ingredients, but just don’t want the alcohol, you could replace the bourbon with ginger ale. Different drink, but delicious, nonetheless!
Other Refreshing Cocktail Recipes
I hope you love this delicious and easy recipe – be sure to give it a review below! Also don’t forget to follow Belly Full on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube!
- 4-5 fresh mint leaves , stems removed and roughly torn
- 1 ounce simple syrup (*see notes)
- crushed ice
- splash of cold water
- 2 ounces bourbon
- Place the mint leaves and simple syrup into a Julep cup, Collins glass, or double old-fashioned glass.
- Muddle together with a muddler or handle of a wooden spoon to release the oil and aroma of the mint.
- Fill the glass 3/4 full with crushed ice. Then pour in the bourbon and a splash of cold water.
- Stir well until the glass becomes frosty.
- Garnish with a mint sprig. Serve and enjoy.