Follow our easy 5-step Mint Julep Recipe to make this classic Kentucky Derby cocktail. With only three ingredients mint, simple syrup, and bourbon you’ll have the Best Mint Julep Cocktail.
Our 5-step guide includes all the ingredients, bar essentials, and instructions to make this classic Kentucky Derby cocktail.
Step 1: Gather Your Ingredients For a Mint Julep
The classic combination of mint, simple syrup, and bourbon is the official Kentucky Derby Cocktail. The key to making a great Mint Julep Recipe comes down to great bourbon, muddling the mint the right way, and an extra rich simple syrup made with Sugar in the Raw.
To begin making the perfect Mint Julep for Derby Day, it’s important to gather all of the necessary ingredients and glassware.
You will need:
- Fresh Mint Leaves – You will need about 10 mint leaves for 1 drink plus sprigs of mint for the garnish.
- Simple Syrup – We use a 1:1 ratio of Turbinado Sugar and water. This creates an extra-rich simple syrup. We use the Sugar in the Raw brand.
- Crushed Ice – Swing into a Sonic or Chick-fil-a and buy a bag of their ice. They run around $2 a bag and are so worth it! They have the best ice for Mint Juleps. If you don’t want to make the trip you still need to use crushed ice either from your ice maker or by placing ice in a bag and using a kitchen mallet to “crush” the ice.
- Bourbon – Because the Mint Julep is a simple blend of bourbon, mint, and simple syrup we went with a low-proof bourbon.
Additionally, you will need a muddler or a bar spoon with a flat end, and a Julep Cup. It’s important to use a Julep cup if you have one, as it helps to keep the drink extra chilled.
Here is a shopping link to the cups used in the images. They have 4 colors in total including Gold and Copper.
Now that you have everything you need, let’s move on to the next step: preparing your simple syrup.
Step 2: Prepare Your Extra Rich Simple Syrup
To make the perfect Mint Julep Recipe, you need to start by making your extra-rich simple syrup. We recommend using Sugar in the Raw Turbinado Sugar to make an extra-rich simple syrup.
This is an essential ingredient that adds sweetness to your drink and helps to balance out the flavor of the bourbon.
Making simple syrup is actually quite easy and only requires two ingredients: sugar and water.
To prepare your simple syrup, you will need to combine equal parts sugar in the raw and water in a small saucepan.
We typically do 1 cup of Sugar to 1 cup of Water if we are having drinks with a couple of friends. We will get roughly 8 drinks out of it. Some people like more simple syrup than others. If you are serving a crowd you may want to double it.
Heat the sugar mixture over medium-low heat and stir until the sugar completely dissolves. Once the sugar has dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and allow the syrup to cool completely.
Make your simple syrup ahead of time and store it in the refrigerator until you’re ready to mix your drink.
With your extra-rich simple syrup ready, you’re now one step closer to creating the Best Mint Julep. Next up, we’ll move on to Step 3: And it is all about the Mint!
Step 3: Muddle Your Mint Leaves
To truly achieve the perfect Mint Julep Recipe, you have to understand the importance of muddling the mint leaves. This step ensures that the essential oils are released, which provides that refreshing minty flavor that we all know and love. Over-muddling mint can cause it to be bitter.
You want to gently yet firmly press down on the mint to release its essential oils.
To muddle your mint leaves, place them into the bottom of your julep glass, along with the simple syrup, and gently press down with a muddler, the flat end of a bar spoon, or the back end of a wooden spoon. Avoid over-muddling and tearing the leaves, as this can result in a bitter taste.
Step 4: Make Your Mint Julep
This classic cocktail is famously known as the Kentucky Derby’s Official Drink. That means one thing. Bourbon!
To mix your Mint Julep Recipe add 10 mint leaves to the bottom of a Julep Cup. Next, add ¾ ounce of the Sugar in the Raw Simple Syrup and gently muddle.
Fill your cup with crushed ice. Pour 3 oz. of bourbon over the ice and stir.
If you are using a bar spoon flip it over to the rounded flat end and use it like a plunger. Sink the spoon to the bottom of the glass and pull it up. Repeat this a few times to mix the drink and bring up to the surface that sweet mint flavor.
Add more ice to top off the Mint Julep Cocktail and garnish generously with Mint Sprigs.
Now that your Mint Julep is mixed to perfection, it’s time to move on to the final step: serving and enjoying your refreshing cocktail.,
Step 5: Serve and Enjoy
You can serve your Mint Julep Recipe in a traditional silver or pewter cup, which will keep your drink cool for longer.
We also like using straws. This captures the sweetness that sinks to the bottom and the water from the melted ice that helps dilute this strong bourbon cocktail.
Before taking a sip, be sure to garnish the cocktail generously with mint. Slap the mint to release the aromas.
Then, take a deep breath of the minty aroma from the garnish before taking a sip. The icy cold liquid should hit your palate with a refreshing kick, followed by the warming sensations of the Kentucky Hug. (A Kentucky Hug is the burning sensation in your chest after taking a sip of bourbon.)
Since Mint Juleps are often served at outdoor events, they make the perfect Summer Bourbon Cocktail.
Best Bourbons for a Mint Julep
Our bourbon pick for the perfect Mint Julep Recipe is lower-proof bourbons. Look for bottles under 100 proof.
- Woodford Reserve – They are the official sponsor of the race.
- Weller Special Reserve or Buffalo Trace- They are my go-to bourbons. These are allocated bottles and can be tough to find in some states. If you see one buy it! They made amazing Old Fashioneds.
- Old Forester
Mint Julep Recipe Variations
You don’t want to mess much with this classic. There are 2 variations I would recommend.
- Finding that perfect variation of bourbon. – Whether it be adjusting to the perfect amount, using your favorite bourbon, or trying different proof bourbons these tweaks to the Mint Julep Recipe will produce the best Mint Julep to your liking!
- Making Non-Alcoholic Mint Juleps.
A good rule of thumb is If you love drinking the bourbon neat you will love it in a mint julep.
To make a Virgin Mint Julep substitute the bourbon for the following:
- Club soda
- Ginger Ale
- Lemon Lime Soda like Sprite or 7up.
- Apple Juice
Can’t get enough bourbon? Browse all our Bourbon Cocktail Recipes!
Here is our Recipe for a Mint Julep
- 10 Mint Leaves
- 3/4 oz. Simple Syrup
- 3 oz. Bourbon
- Mint for Garnish
- In a Mint Julep Cup add mint and simple syrup and gently muddle.
- Add ice and bourbon: stir.
- Top off with more crushed ice.
- Garnish generously with sprigs of mint.
For our Extra Rich Simple Syrup use Turbinado Sugar. We use the Sugar in the Raw. brand
To make Sugar in the Raw Simple Syrup combine a 1:1 ratio of sugar to water in a saucepan. Simmer on medium-low heat and stir until sugar is completely dissolved. Cool before using.
The ice will melt to further dilute the cocktail but feel free to adjust the amounts of bourbon and simple syrup.
Read the article above for everything you need to make the best Mint Julep Recipe. There are recipe tips, tricks, and variations.
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Nutrition Information:Yield: 1 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 288Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 36mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 8gSugar: 11gProtein: 4g
All amounts are estimates and DailyAppetite takes no responsibility for actual figures since calculations vary by packaging and supplier.