Mint Julep in 5 Easy Steps

Photo: Icon Sportswire (Getty Images)

Mint Julep is certainly one of the most iconic Southern drinks in America. It is said that the drink originated in the 18th century and, though there are different versions of it, usually consists of four main ingredients – mint leaf, bourbon, sugar syrup, and crushed ice. Of course, it’s not just about the ingredients, but also about how you mix them. Mint Julep owes a lot of its fame to the fact that it is always served during the Kentucky Derby. So, for many people, this drink is a nostalgic, patriotic reminder of their love for the South. Well, here is how you can make one yourself in just 5 easy steps.

Mint and Syrup

The first step of this Mint Julep recipe requires that you take a couple of mint leaves and mix them with some sugar syrup in a glass. Of course, if you’re planning on making a true Mint Julep, it can’t be just any old glass. You need to use either a Collins glass (the one used for a Tom Collins cocktail) or, preferably, a double Old Fashioned glass. You usually need 4 or 5 mint leaves and about one-half of simple syrup. In case you don’t have any syrup or don’t like its taste, you can always use just 2 sugar cubes instead.


Depending on whether you’ve used syrup or sugar cubes, you need to decide how much mixing it will take. It might take a bit more muddling to melt those sugar cubes completely and make the mint leaves release their oils. This is where the double Old Fashioned glass comes in handy as you can muddle directly in the glass without any fear of damaging the glass. Try not to tear the leaves into pieces while muddling. The bits can get stuck in your teeth and are generally annoying.


Once the muddling is done, it’s time to add a bit of bourbon to the mix. How can you know which bourbon to use? Well, simply use your favorite bourbon and it will be fine. People think that the Mint Julep won’t work unless you use a specific brand, but it’s actually more about personal preferences. Of course, it’s always best that you use a more quality bourbon as it is basically the main part of the drink.

Crushed Ice

After that, add crushed ice to the cocktail and start stirring. You will know that you don’t need to stir anymore when the glass becomes a bit frosty. It happens usually in about 30 seconds or so. Keep one thing in mind – it is essential that you use crushed and not any regular ice. Crushed affects both the taste and the texture of the drink. Without it, the cocktail simply wouldn’t be Mint Julep. So, take some time and crush the ice in a large bowl beforehand. Just make sure you use a sturdy bowl, so as not to break it during the crushing process.


Finally, there’s the question of decoration. Of course, you can skip this step altogether, but it doesn’t hurt. The usual way by which people decorate Mint Julep is with a simple mint sprig to give a little bit of flavor and show what drink it is.

Random Facts

  • It is said that the drink originated sometime in the 18th century. However, it is unknown who first came up with it.
  • Mint Julep first started appearing at the Kentucky Derby way back in 1938. Since then, it has become its trademark drink.
  • The drink was used in the 18th century as a remedy for stomach problems.
  • A popular variation of Mint Julep in the 19th century included the use of gin instead of bourbon. The gin they used was Jenever, an aged gin.
  • In 2006, the visitors of the Kentucky Derby were offered exclusive, premium version of the drink that cost exactly $1,000. Besides extremely quality ingredients, this Mint Julep was served in gold-plated cups and with silver straws.
  • Two years later, they decided to serve Mint Julep from a special, enormous, custom-made glass that was about 6-foot tall and held 206 gallons of the drink.

Now you can make your own Mint Julep whenever you feel like it. Try experimenting with the ingredients to get your own, perfect version of the drink.


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