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Mint Julep

Two mint julep cocktails shown in silver julep cups with mint garnish and crushed ice.
Photo by Paul H. Christian, Food Styling by Michele Figliuolo

For this flavor-packed and easy mint julep recipe, you'll skip the muddling and instead make a fragrant, refreshing simple syrup perfumed with fresh mint leaves. Doing so imbues the classic bourbon cocktail with gads more flavor—it's also a great way to prep a big batch of the drink for a group and the mint syrup can be used to make other drinks, like a mojito or minty lemonade.

As for the other essential ingredients in this classic cocktail recipe? While you'll often see this drink with Woodford Reserve, you can choose any Kentucky bourbon, such as Old Forester or Wild Turkey 101, or even go with another spirit, such as brandy or cognac. Crushed ice, though, is a must. If you don't have an ice crusher, fill a sealable bag with ice cubes and bash away. A silver cup (or one made from stainless steel, pewter, or copper) is a nice touch, and ostensibly keeps the drink colder for longer, but a regular ol' old-fashioned glass (or the small side of your cocktail shaker) will do just fine. To finish, place a sprig of mint in your palm and give it one quick slap to release its essential oils before tucking it into the side of the glass. Whether you're rounding up a gang for a Kentucky Derby party, gathering friends for any weekend from Memorial Day through Labor Day, or trying to keep your one-and-only-self refreshed this summer, keep this recipe on hand.

Editor's note: This recipe was originally published in May 2006.


Makes 1 drink

1 scant oz. Mint Simple Syrup
2 cups crushed ice
2 oz. bourbon
Fresh mint sprig, for garnish
  1. To highball glass or silver Julep cup, add minted simple syrup, then 1 cup crushed ice, bourbon, and splash of water. Add enough of remaining ice to almost fill glass. Stir well and garnish with mint sprig.

    Read more: The Best Whiskeys for Cocktails and Sipping plus Classic Cocktails That Changed the Way We Drink Now

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  • If you find it too sweet, like I do, just add some sparkling water. It's quite refreshing on a hot summer day. Otherwise, this is delicious.

    • darlenexina1

    • Santa Fe, NM

    • 6/19/2016

  • Too sweet! The syrup really overpowers the bourbon--I don't think I'd ever waste my Knob Creek or Woodford Reserve on this--so it's quite alright to use plain old Jim Beam or Evan Williams.

    • saoakman

    • Twin Cities, MN

    • 8/9/2015

  • Easy to make and easy to sip. I'll always use this one from now on. Delicious! Everyone loves it.

    • RahRahSC

    • 5/3/2014

  • Instead of simple syrup, I muddle some bourbon with honey and mint. Must be thoroughly mixed. Pack with shaved ice (our local ice house still sells it in large bags pre-Derby)Top w/more bourbon, pack more ice, more bourbon until loaded (you could be, too) Freeze for a few hours. I have ametal rod to make a hole for a straw. Place straw in julep, add mint sprig (we grow Ky Colonel Mint) and a strawberry on top. Sip from the bottom for sweet taste or move straw up higher for a hit of bourbon--then mush all together as it melts and enjoy. Our juleps are made in clear glasses like traditional metal ones, but have a loop handle near the bottom (like Irish coffees sorta)We fold a napkin in q's and never touch the frosted glass. Fabulous!

    • kyshel

    • Ky

    • 4/26/2013

  • Been making this julep for the Kentucky Derby for the past three years,,,,its a big hit! This year my husband declared it the best julep he's ever had..used Woodford Reserve...feel its worth it.

    • Anonymous

    • Ashburn, Va

    • 5/5/2012

  • Well done! It just goes to show even someone who's from Ohio but went to school in KY can achieve greatness :-)

    • PlaneJane

    • FL

    • 5/5/2012

  • By far THE BEST Mint Juleps anywhere!

    • amkosan

    • 5/2/2010

  • Illini bred and educated, reside in Tennessee, and sent my son to Centre College which makes me smarter than most Illinoians, Tennesseans, and Kentuckians - making this drink with anything but fresh mint would be an insult to anyone with good sense and a palate.

    • illinijeff

    • knoxville, TN

    • 6/19/2009

  • Perhaps should apply his "smarts" and read the recipe. It does use fresh mint. In any case, the minted simple syrup is a great idea, and we still add fresh mint because we like the freshness of the drink.

    • Anonymous

    • San Mateo, CA

    • 4/16/2008

  • My guests thought this recipe was the hit of the party. If Mitch was smarter than most Kentuckians he would not have to be telling us how smart he is. We would be telling him. Anyhow make this your Derby Party Drink!!!

    • Anonymous

    • San Francisco, CA

    • 4/25/2007

  • Kentucky Born and Raised. Centre College grad which makes me smarter than most Kentuckians. It is much better if the simple syrup is made with fresh mint in it.

    • mitch69

    • 8/6/2006

  • I am a native Kentuckian who has a yearly derby party, and this is the recipe I use. I set up a "make your own julep" bar with instructions and it works really well. People can add more water for a lighter drink.

    • Anonymous

    • Santa Fe NM

    • 5/3/2006

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