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 in a weekend (yes, I did the math).
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.
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
- 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.