Mint Julep Cocktail Recipe

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

Official Kentucky Derby Cocktail: Mint Julep Recipe

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

I’ll admit I’m still somewhat new to this minty concoction. 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… That’s almost 1,900 gallons of bourbon. 9,375 bottles of bourbon on a weekend (yes, I did the math).

Ingredients in a Mint Julep

The classic mint julep recipe is really simple. They’re made with bourbon, simple sugar, a few mint leaves, and of course the iconic head of crushed ice.

How to Make a Mint Julep

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.

A mint julep is mixed right within it’s serving glass or metal julep cup.

  1. First, muddle the mint into the sugar to infuse the sugar with fresh mint flavor.
  2. Add bourbon and stir to mix. Fill the glass/cup with half a cup of ice and stir with a bar spoon until julep resembles a slushy.
  3. Top with more crushed ice and garnish with mint leaves.

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.

Crushed Ice

Mint juleps are always served with LOTS of crushed ice. It’s probably the cocktail’s most defining characteristic. If you don’t have a fancy ice maker that can serve crushed ice (I don’t), you can crush your own in a Ziploc bag using a rolling pin. That’s my million dollar crushed ice hack for you.

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.

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

  • Author: Shawn Williams
  • Prep Time: 5
  • Total Time: 5
  • Yield: 1 1x
  • Category: Cocktail
  • Cuisine: American


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


  • 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.


  • Serving Size: 1
  • Calories: 202
  • Sugar: 10.6g
  • Sodium: 1mg
  • Fat: 0g
  • Saturated Fat: 0g
  • Carbohydrates: 10.6g
  • Protein: 0g
  • Cholesterol: 0mg

Keywords: mint julep recipe