The mint Julep is a classic cocktail that’s quintessentially American thanks to its southern roots. Made with bourbon, this sweet and minty cocktail is just as refreshing as it is cooling, making it the perfect drink for a warm afternoon. Despite a typically fancy presentation, a mint julep is extremely easy to make and only requires a few ingredients. You can find the full recipe at the bottom of this post.
How to Make a Mint Julep Cocktail
A Short History of the Mint Julep
The mint julep has been around since the 1800s, but its fame notoriety began in 1983 when it became the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby. Today, over 100,000 mint juleps are sold during the two-day horse race at Churchill Downs, and the drink is synonymous with the event.
Why are Mint Juleps in a Metal Cup?
Traditionally, mint juleps are served in a silver or pewter cup. This is so that the drink can stay cold, but there are also stories that the metal cup also fittingly symbolizes the silver cups won by jockeys at the Kentucky Derby.
Serving a mint julep in a metal cup is definitely the classic way to serve this iconic cocktail. However, if you don’t have metal cups, chill your glasses prior to making them for a similar effect. Some will argue that a mint julep in a metal cup is essential, but I didn’t have any at the time of creating this recipe.
How to Make a Mint Julep
What You Need
- Simple syrup
- Fresh mint
- Crushed ice
- A muddler
- A metal mint julep cup or lowball glass
The key to this drink is to strike the perfect balance between sweetness, minty-ness, and booziness. A good mint julep should be smooth and refreshing, with just enough kick to remind you that you’re sipping on a Southern cocktail.
In your glass or metal cup, add a handful of mint leaves and your simply syrup or sugar cubes. Muddle well to release the aroma and flavor of the mint so it mixes with the simple syrup.
Add the bourbon, then a generous amount of crushed ice. Gently stir until your glass gets cold and frosty. Garnish with sprig of mint and enjoy!
Tips for Serving and Garnishing a Mint Julep
- A cold vessel is important for a mint julep. Get your cup or glass nice and cold by popping it into the freezer for about five to ten minutes. Alternatively, fill your glass with ice to chill it prior to making your drink.
- To make simple syrup, use one part water and one part sugar. (example: 1/4 cup of water and 1/4 cup of sugar) Bring to a boil until the sugar has dissolved. Save and extra for other cocktails!
- If you don’t want to make simple syrup, you can also use two sugar cubes and a few drops oof water instead.
- When you muddle your mint, don’t overdo it. The goal here is bruise them just enough so the leaves release the oils, not to tear them completely.
- Crushed ice is a must for this drink. If you don’t have a crushed ice maker, place ice in a plastic bag and then wrap it with a towel. You can use your muddler or a meat tenderizer to crush your ice, just be careful not to pound too hard.
- Make sure you stir your drink long enough to get that sought after frost. Chilling your glass prior to serving your cocktail helps, but don’t rush this part… patience is a virtue here.
Looking for other summer cocktails? Try one of these:
Classic Mint Julep
- 6-8 mint leaves
- ½ ounce simple syrup
- 2½ ounces bourbon
- crushed ice
- sprig of mint, for garnish
- In your glass or metal cup, add a handful of mint leaves and your simply syrup or sugar cubes. Muddle well to release the aroma and flavor of the mint so it mixes with the simple syrup.
- Add the bourbon, then a generous amount of crushed ice. Gently stir until your glass gets cold and frosty. Garnish with sprig of mint and enjoy!