Mint Julep

Total Time

Prep: 30 min. + chilling

Makes

10 servings (2-1/2 cups syrup)

Updated: Mar. 09, 2023
It wouldn't be Kentucky Derby Day without this mint julep recipe! But, really, this Kentucky Derby mint julep recipe is good anytime. —Taste of Home Test Kitchen
Mint Julep Recipe photo by Taste of Home

Ingredients

  • MINT SYRUP:
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups loosely packed chopped fresh mint
  • EACH SERVING:
  • 1/2 to 3/4 cup crushed ice
  • 1/2 to 1 ounce bourbon
  • Mint sprig

Directions

  1. For syrup, combine sugar, water and chopped mint in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat; cook until sugar is dissolved, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat; cool to room temperature.
  2. Line a mesh strainer with a double layer of cheesecloth or a coffee filter. Strain syrup; discard mint. Cover and refrigerate syrup for at least 2 hours or until chilled.
  3. For each serving, place ice in a metal julep cup or rocks glass. Pour 2-4 tablespoons mint syrup and bourbon into the glass; stir until mixture is well chilled. Garnish with mint sprig.
Mint Julep Tips

What kind of bourbon should you use in mint juleps?

When you learn how to make a mint julep, one of the first questions you might ask is what kind of bourbon to use. Go with a Kentucky classic like Woodford Reserve or Maker's Mark. When you compare bourbon vs. whiskey, you'll find that most bourbons have strong notes of vanilla, oak and caramel—a big part of what makes bourbon cocktails so easy to drink.

Do you need to use crushed ice in a mint julep?

To get the right water to bourbon ratio in a mint julep, it's important to use crushed ice because it melts faster than ice cubes, creating a more balanced cocktail. Crushed ice is also important when making a Kentucky mule, which is like a Moscow mule, but with bourbon instead of vodka.

Why do people "slap" mint leaves before garnishing a mint julep?

Handling the mint before adding it to your mint julep releases the essential oils, making it more aromatic and flavorful. Some call it "waking up" the mint. Hold the mint by the stems and brush the leaves against your palm a few times until the fragrance of the mint is more detectible. Then it's ready to freshen up your drink. This works for any kind of herb on any cocktail—not just mint for mint juleps. Keep this in mind when choosing your next cocktail garnish.

How can you make a mock mint julep?

If you prefer mocktail recipes over drinks with alcohol, make your mint julep bourbon-free. Start by making the syrup as directed. After straining, add 1/2 cup lemon juice. Cover and refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours. For each serving, combine 1/2 cup club soda and 1/2 cup mint syrup in a glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with mint.

Where can you buy julep cups?

Traditional mint julep cups are made of pewter to keep your cocktail icy cold, but many you'll find today are stainless steel. Look for them anywhere bar gear and cocktail glasses are sold. If you don't have any, a highball glass would be a great alternative. A rocks glass would work in a pinch as well.

Peggy Woodward, Taste of Home Senior Food Editor

Nutrition Facts

1/3 cup: 197 calories, 0 fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 6mg sodium, 42g carbohydrate (39g sugars, 1g fiber), 1g protein.

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