Official Kentucky Derby Cocktail: Mint Julep Recipe

The official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby. Bourbon, mint, simple syrup, and plenty of crushed ice.

Grab your wild hats, wallets, and fresh mint leaves, the Kentucky Derby is right around the corner.

I’ll admit I’m still somewhat new to the mint julep. It’s a cocktail I make maybe once every few years. The mint julep is a classic cocktail that has long been a Kentucky Derby tradition. About 120,000 of these are spun up at the Derby over the two-day event. 120,000…

Official Kentucky Derby Cocktail: Mint Julep Recipe

After some trial and error, I arrived at my “ideal” recipe, while still adhering to the classic ingredients (bourbon, sugar, mint). The mint julep is a refreshing, spirit-forward cocktail with a touch of sweetness and fresh minty flavor. I use a ratio of 2 1/2 ounces of bourbon to 3/4 ounce of simple syrup. I would say this is probably the most crowd-pleasing ratio, if you prefer a stronger tasting cocktail, use less simple syrup. It’s served in a glass full of crushed ice—almost like a boozy slushy.

If you love bourbon and are a fan of fresh mint, the mint julep is the perfect spring cocktail to celebrate with at your Derby party, or drown your sorrows after losing all your money on a horse. I’ve got my money on Tacitus.

Official Kentucky Derby Cocktail: Mint Julep Recipe
Official Kentucky Derby Cocktail: Mint Julep Recipe

Kentucky Derby: Mint Julep Cocktail Recipe

  • Author: Shawn
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Total Time: 5
  • Yield: 1 1x



  • 2 1/2 ounces bourbon
  • 3/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 45 mint leaves plus more for garnish


  1. Add mint leaves and simple syrup to a mint julep cup or double old fashioned glass. Muddle mint leaves to release the oils. Simple sugar should start to have a greenish hue.
  2. Add bourbon and stir.
  3. Fill glass with roughly 1 cup of crushed ice and stir until mixed. Top with a mound of additional crushed ice and serve with a mint leaf garnish.


If your fridge doesn’t dispense crushed ice, use the pulse setting on a blender or fill a gallon-sized ziploc bag and manually crush by hitting with rolling pin.