Mint juleps are simple and refreshing cocktails to sip on a hot day. They are traditionally served the first weekend in May, as that is the day of the Kentucky Derby. Mint juleps have been the official cocktail of that historic horse race for more than 100 years. So to the Kentuckian, the mint julep is more than a drink; it is a highball glass full of emotion and tradition.
Whether you watch the race or not, a refreshing mint julep is definitely a nice accompaniment for a lazy summer weekend afternoon!
1. Traditional Mint Julep
You can’t go wrong with the original!
3 fresh mint leaves
1 tablespoon Mint Simple Syrup
1 1/2 to 2 tablespoons (1 ounce) bourbon
1 (4-inch) cocktail straw or coffee stirrer
1 fresh mint sprig
Powdered sugar (optional)
Place mint leaves and Mint Simple Syrup in a chilled julep cup. Gently press leaves against cup with back of spoon to release flavors. Pack cup tightly with crushed ice; pour bourbon over ice. Insert straw, place mint sprig directly next to straw, and serve immediately. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired.
2. Strawberry Mint Julep
The coolness of the strawberries give this julep a fresh taste!
3 strawberries, hulled, quartered and pureed
3/4 oz simple syrup
10-12 mint leaves
2 oz bourbon
In a glass (preferably an 8-10 ounce glass), combine strawberries, simple syrup and mint.
Muddle with the back of a wooden spoon to release the oils from the mint leaves.
Pack the cup with crushed ice and add the bourbon.
Stir the drink until a frost forms on the outside of the cup and serve.
3. Peach Mint Julep
The sweetness of the peach adds just the perfect touch of the deep South.
1 peeled peach
3/4 ounce simple syrup
3 sprigs mint
2 ounces bourbon
Sparkling water or tonic water
Peel the peach. Cut into sections and remove the pit. (If you can’t get fresh peaches, frozen peaches should work well too.)
Strip the mint leaves off the mint sprig and discard the stem.
Combine mint, peaches, simple syrup, and bourbon in a cocktail shaker. Thoroughly muddle until the peach is smashed and has released its juices.
Pour into a glass and put a layer of crushed ice on top. Top with sparkling water.
4. Mint Julep Iced Tea
If the traditional mint julep is too strong for you, this iced tea version is the perfect substitution.
6-oz strong, brewed black tea
2 tbsp sugar plus 1 tsp sugar
8-10 mint leaves
1 1/2 oz bourbon
In a small glass, dissolve 2 tbsp sugar in strong black tea, adding more sugar to taste, if necessary. Tea that is going to be served over ice should be prepared sweeter than hot tea.
In a tall glass, muddle 1 tsp sugar and mint leaves until mint is well-bruised and a strong minty aroma is coming from the glass, about 20 seconds.
Pour in bourbon and fill glass with ice. Top with sweetened black iced tea.
Garnish with a sprig of mint and serve with a straw.
If bourbon isn’t your thing, a mojito is the next best thing to a mint julep! Shhh…we promise we won’t tell!
1/2 ounce lime juice
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
3 leaves mint
2 ounces rum — white rum
In a highball glass, muddle lime juice with 1/2 to 1 teaspoon superfine sugar.
Add the few mint leaves, mushing them against the side of the glass.
Fill glass 2/3 with cracked ice and pour in the rum.
Top off with club soda or seltzer. Serve with a stirring rod.