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.
- First, muddle the mint into the sugar to infuse the sugar with fresh mint flavor.
- 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.
- 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.
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.Print
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
- 4–5 mint leaves plus more for garnish
- 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.
- Add bourbon and stir.
- 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.
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