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How To Make A Classic Mint Julep

Updated on July 21, 2017

While Mint Julep is the celebrated and traditional drink of the Kentucky Derby horse race, it is also a refreshing cocktail that can be enjoyed any time, most appreciably in the summer months. This is a recipe for the basic classic cocktail, which requires few ingredients and only a little prep time.

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Cook Time

Prep time: 10 min
Cook time: 10 min
Ready in: 20 min
Yields: 1-2 servings (see below for making additional)

Ingredients for the simple syrup

  • 1 cup distilled water
  • 1 cup granulated white sugar

To make the simple syrup

  1. Mix in a saucepan the sugar and distilled water.
  2. Over low heat, dissolve the sugar, being sure to stir continuously for a few minutes. Once the sugar is dissolved, set this syrup to the side and allow to cool.

Ingredients for rest of cocktail

* Leaves from 4-5 fresh spearmint sprigs

* 2/3 shot or 1/2 ounce of the simple syrup

* 2 1/2 ounces bourbon whiskey

* Mint (preferably spearmint) sprig for garnish

* Powdered sugar

* crushed ice

To Make The Final Cocktail

1. Bruise some of the spearmint leaves and place into a wide, tall glass or cup along with the cooled simple syrup.

2. With a clean wooden pestle, muddle (gingerly crush and swirl) these ingredients together to release the mint essence.

3. Add your bourbon.

4. Fill glass with crushed ice. Stir until the ice has created a frosty appearance on your cup or glass.

5. Garnish with mint sprigs. Lightly sprinkle the beverage with the powdered sugar. Enjoy.

To make for guests

Multiply all ingredients six-to-eight fold to serve a conservative gathering. For this it is suggested to combine the simple syrup with the bourbon and ice in a porcelain or ceramic container. However, if you have a large clean mortar that mates with your pestle, this is ideal and the beverage can be served with a punch ladle. Always add the powdered sugar and mint garnish lastly and only over individual servings.

**For the traditional experience**

using crushed ice is traditional, though shaved ice may be used as a substitute. Cubed ice, however, is never suggested.


Mint Julep, when drank during the Kentucky Derby, is presented in a silver or pewter cup, preferably engraved or imprinted with a horse shoe turned upward (for luck).

According to legend, if your horse (owned or just gambled on) loses the Kentucky Derby it is ill-advised to drink Mint Julep during the next three courses of the moon (three months). To do so is said to bring a broken leg for the horse!

Contributed ©July 21, 2017 by Beth Perry


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