How to Make the Perfect Mint Julep

by Alice Currah on June 21, 2010

Today is the official day of summer. Today we’re kicking off the season with a backyard barbecue and I’m hoping to enjoy one of many long evenings of brilliant sunsets setting the night sky ablaze while sipping on a mint julep. Sounds lovely, doesn’t it?

Mint juleps are considered a Southern cocktail beverage made from bourbon, mint, sugar and water. It is a traditional drink often served at the Kentucky Derby in a tall glass or a pewter julep cup.

What I enjoy most about this beverage is the simplicity of it. We have mint growing like weeds in our backyard. So having all the ingredients readily available makes it very easy to prepare this cocktail on a hot summer day. Dissolving sugar and water into a simple syrup is the best way to prepare this drink. I like to take it one step further by steeping mint leaves in the syrup instead of muddling the mint leaves with ice. The end result is a sweet, refreshing, and strong cocktail! Enjoy!

PS: In my opinion, this beverage is very strong and should be enjoyed slowly… very slowly.  I made the mistake and had one sip on an empty stomach and decided to save the rest until after I had dinner.

Mint Julep

2 ounces whiskey/bourbon
crushed ice
1 ounce mint infused simple syrup *see below
mint sprig

Directions: In a tall glass add bourbon, crushed ice, mint-infused simple syrup, and more ice if needed. Stir well and garnish with a mint sprig.

Mint-infused simple syrup: Boil 1 cup sugar and 1 cup of water for 1 minutes. Stir until all the sugar has dissolved and the liquid is clear. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn the heat off and add one bunch of mint sprigs and allow them to steep for 20 minutes. Strain mint leaves and allow the syrup to completely cool before using.

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{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

Jessica @ How Sweet June 21, 2010 at 6:35 am

I had my first mint julep on Kentucky Derby day. That baby was strong! But it was delicious.


Eliana June 21, 2010 at 10:32 am

This looks like an amazing cocktail and a great way to get the summer started.


urmomcooks June 21, 2010 at 3:27 pm

Oooo… always forget about this one when the mint starts rolling in… Thanks for the reminder — beautiful pic too!


Sean June 21, 2010 at 3:29 pm

Fabulous. While the traditional julep does not use syrup, we generally do much as you do and make a mint syrup. It’s just easier. But a little fresh muddled mint definitely gives it that bright minty edge.


Georgia Pellegrini June 21, 2010 at 3:58 pm

I’m so glad you’re sharing lovely cocktail recipes! People don’t do it enough… I made homemade tonic water a few weeks ago and it was one of the best things I’ve ever made. I’m going to try this next…thanks Alice!


Baking is my Zen June 21, 2010 at 6:40 pm

Fabulous photos!



Alison Lewis June 21, 2010 at 6:42 pm

I love Mint Juleps and your approach is awesome! I love your site!


Hollis June 21, 2010 at 6:57 pm

This looks fabulous! And the best thing about having mint syrup around the house is that you can use it to sweeten iced tea as well…YUMMY! I gave my husband an electric ice crusher last year for Christmas because we LOVE our mint juleps with crushed ice…the pewter cup gets so cold it just about sticks to your fingers! Thanks for the lovely post!


dieselboi June 21, 2010 at 11:53 pm

Best drink ever! We made one tonight.


Jessie Sanders June 24, 2010 at 4:52 pm

I sent my husband to get some bourbon after seeing this recipe. It did not disappoint!! I’ve never had a mint julep before and I have now declared it my summer drink of choice! Thank you for the recipe.


alice June 24, 2010 at 5:20 pm

Jessie: Glad you liked it. Mojitos are really great too!


Jenny June 24, 2010 at 7:06 pm

What type of bourbon do you use? They all taste so different, I was wondering what yielded the tastiest results.


alice June 25, 2010 at 2:23 am

Jenny: Honestly, I used just the cheap stuff. But I’m sure if you used a premium bourbon it would take this drink up a notch!


Allison June 24, 2010 at 7:27 pm

I have never tried a mint julep, but this looks too tasty to pass up!


courtney Molsen May 4, 2012 at 11:34 am

Your receipe for simple syrup above – how many driks would that serve? I would like to make it for a party tomorrow and not sure how much to prepare (thinking I need enough for 20 drinks)


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