Mint Julep Cocktail Recipe

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Mint Julep Nutrition Facts


Fat:0 g

Protein:0 g

Carbohydrates:12 g


Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 7, 2024


The Mint Julep is a classic cocktail that has been enjoyed for centuries, particularly in the southern United States. It is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, and has been since 1938.

  • The origins of the Mint Julep can be traced back to the 18th century
  • It was originally used as a medicinal drink to soothe the stomach
  • Over time, it became a popular social drink, especially in the South

How Mint Julep Tastes?

The Mint Julep has a refreshing, sweet, and slightly minty taste. It is a well-balanced cocktail with a strong bourbon backbone and a cooling, herbal finish.

Interesting facts about Mint Julep

  • The Mint Julep is traditionally served in a silver or pewter cup, which helps to keep the drink cold
  • Each year, over 120,000 Mint Juleps are served at the Kentucky Derby
  • The world's largest Mint Julep was made in 2008, containing 206 gallons of the cocktail



Why it's used: It's the Southern soul of the drink! The rich, vanilla-and-oak-forward flavor profile of bourbon combines seamlessly with the freshness of mint.

Without it: You'd just have a cup of fancy mint-flavored ice water.

Alternatives: While traditionally a no-no, you could try a different whiskey or even rum for a different kick.

Mary Mitkina

Mint leaves

Why it's used: They provide that cool, crisp, and aromatic element, which is why we smack 'em before throwing them in – to release those essential oils.

Without it: The Julep loses its 'Mint' and turns into a 'Just Julep.'

Alternatives: Basil could give an interesting herby twist, but it would no longer be a Mint Julep.

Mary Mitkina

Fine sugar

Why it's used: It's the sweet whisperer that balances out the bourbon's burn.

Without it: Your tongue would be doing the Kentucky Two-Step from the bourbon's bite.

Alternatives: A simple syrup or honey syrup can be used, altering the sweetness profile slightly.

Alex Green


Why it's used: A splash of water helps dissolve the sugar and mellows the bourbon just a tad.

Without it: The sugar wouldn't incorporate properly, leaving you with a gritty surprise.

Mary Mitkina

Crushed ice

Why it's used: It chills the drink quickly and as it melts, it dilutes the cocktail to perfection.

Without it: You'd have a room-temp heartwarmer rather than a refreshing sipper.

Mary Mitkina

Mint sprig

Why it's used: It's the green flag signaling 'refreshment ahead' and provides a nice olfactory experience with each sip.

Without it: The drink would lack that final visual and aromatic 'oomph.'

Alex Green

Recipe. How to make Mint Julep Drink

  1. In a julep cup or rocks glass, gently muddle the mint leaves with the sugar and water
  2. Add the bourbon and fill the glass with crushed ice
  3. Stir the cocktail until the outside of the glass becomes frosty
  4. Top with more crushed ice to form a dome shape
  5. Garnish with a mint sprig and serve with a straw

Pro Tips

  • Use fresh mint for the best flavor. The fresher the mint, the better the cocktail.
  • Don't over-muddle the mint leaves. This can make the cocktail taste bitter.
  • Use crushed ice. It melts slower and keeps the drink colder for longer.

Perfect Pairings


Southern-style bites: Pair your Mint Julep with some light and savory Southern-inspired appetizers like pimento cheese spread on crackers or mini fried chicken biscuits to complement that kick of bourbon.

Barbecue: The robustness of the Mint Julep stands up nicely to the smokiness of barbecued meats. Think pulled pork sliders or smoky ribs.


Chocolate: The sweetness of the Mint Julep dances well with the bitterness of dark chocolate. Opt for a high-quality chocolate bar and you're in for a treat.

Fruit desserts: A fruit cobbler or a peach pie would sing alongside a Mint Julep, echoing its sweet and refreshing notes.


Iced Tea: In case you want to pace yourself between cocktails, a nice sweet iced tea will keep things in the Southern comfort zone.

Water: Stay hydrated! It's important to alternate cocktails with water, especially if you're enjoying this at a hot Kentucky Derby day.

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What you could change in Mint Julep

  • Bourbon: Can be replaced with any other whiskey. However, the taste may vary.
  • Fine sugar: Can be replaced with simple syrup or honey for a different sweetness profile.
  • Mint leaves: If not available, you can use a few drops of mint extract.

Explore all drinks starting with M here

And of course - twists🍹

Peach Julep

Ingredients: Bourbon, Mint leaves, Peach syrup, Crushed ice, Fresh peach slices, Mint sprig for garnish

Recipe: Muddle the mint leaves with peach syrup instead of sugar. Follow the regular steps but finish with fresh peach slices along with more crushed ice and mint for garnish. This variation adds a fruity twist, giving the drink a Southern summer vibe.

Sparkling Julep

Ingredients: Bourbon, Mint leaves, Fine sugar, Water, Crushed ice, Club soda, Mint sprig and lemon peel for garnish

Recipe: Make the Mint Julep as usual but top the drink with club soda after stirring. This bubbly addition adds effervescence and makes the cocktail more refreshing, perfect for a hot afternoon.

Chocolate Mint Julep

Ingredients: Bourbon, Mint leaves, Chocolate bitters, Fine sugar, Water, Crushed ice, Mint sprig and grated chocolate for garnish

Recipe: Add a few dashes of chocolate bitters to the mix. The chocolate complements the vanilla notes in the bourbon and adds a decadent twist suitable for dessert.

In case you forgot basics how to make Mint Julep

Insert the spoon into the glass until it touches the bottom. Keep the back of the spoon against the inside wall of the glass, and stir in a smooth, circular motion. The goal is to swirl the ice and ingredients together without churning or splashing.

Learn everything on how to stir

The key to proper muddling is to crush the ingredients just enough to release their flavors and not overdo it. Over-muddling can result in a bitter taste, especially with herbs.

Learn everything on how to muddle

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Mint Julep

Can I use other herbs instead of mint in a Mint Julep?

While mint is the traditional herb used in a Mint Julep, you could experiment with basil, rosemary or other fresh herbs. However, this will significantly change the flavor profile of the cocktail.

What is the best type of bourbon for a Mint Julep?

Choosing a good-quality bourbon will enhance the flavor of your Mint Julep. However, the best bourbon depends on individual taste. Some prefer a stronger, bolder bourbon, while others might prefer a smoother and sweeter variety.

What type of glass is best to serve a Mint Julep if I don't have a julep cup?

You can serve a Mint Julep in a rocks glass, or any other short tumbler. The key is to use a glass that's thick enough to maintain the drink's temperature.

Is there a non-alcoholic version of the Mint Julep?

Yes, for a non-alcoholic version of the Mint Julep, you can replace the bourbon with apple juice or a non-alcoholic ginger beer to maintain the cocktail's spiciness.

How can I make a vegan Mint Julep?

The Mint Julep is inherently vegan as it doesn't contain any animal products. Just ensure the sugar used is vegan-friendly as some sugars are processed using animal products.

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