Kentucky Derby Mint Julep Recipe

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  • The best Mint Julep recipe, straight from the Kentucky Derby! A classic mixed drink everyone will love!

    classic Kentucky Derby mint julep

    Last weekend, we took a few days to enjoy nearby Louisville, Kentucky for the Derby kickoff festivities. We had a lot of fun exploring the city that’s just 4 hours East of St. Louis and getting into the Derby spirit. Upon arriving to tour Churchill Downs, we learned that opening day race was the following evening and decided to take part and purchased tickets.

    Of course a shopping trip for hats ensued. You can learn more about what to do in Louisville Kentucky here.

    Over our 4 day getaway, we tried several mint juleps – I was determined to like them. The first, served at a restaurant we loved, was mounded like a snow cone, leaving the bourbon at the bottom without a way to stir it (or get to the good stuff!). Others fell short as well. In all honesty, I’m not much of a bourbon girl, but I really wanted to get in the spirit.

    I tried one last mint julep at Churchill Downs just before the first race and finally realized what all the fuss was about. It wasn’t served in copper or pewter julep cup, but a plain old glass. A Kentucky Derby glass, to be exact. Yet this plain and simple mint julep recipe tasted better than every sip I had tried before, proving once again, sometimes simple is simply the best.

    the best mint julep recipe

    What’s In a Mint Julep?

    A Mint Julep is made with simple syrup, crushed ice, Old Forester Kentucky Bourbon and a mint sprig to garnish. 

    This Mint Julep recipe is a classic bourbon cocktail. It is so ridiculously good that Chris and I shared 4 of them over the course of a few hours. I was amazed to hear that 120,000 are served in just 2 days! That’s a lot of yum.

    the best mint julep recipe

    You can find more Kentucky Derby recipes here but don’t even think you’re about to find the true Derby pie recipe anywhere – it’s under lock and key, even the use of the name.

    The Best Bourbon for a Mint Julep

    The Kentucky Derby serves Mint Juleps with Old Forester Kentucky Bourbon, however a variety of bourbons work well with this cocktail. Our friends host an incredibly fun Derby party each year and serve Mint Juleps with a wide array of bourbons. A few favorites include:

    • Blanton’s
    • Woodford Reserve
    • Basil Hayden’s
    • Willet
    • Bulleit
    • Makers Mark

    classic Kentucky Derby mint julep recipe

    How to Make Mint Simple Syrup

    The secret to an amazing classic Mint Julep is mint simple syrup! Don’t worry, it’s quick and easy to make!

    1. Boil 1 c sugar and 1 c water for 5 minutes, until clear.
    2. Remove from heat.
    3. Add 4 sprigs of mint and allow to cool.
    4. Refrigerate until use.

    classic Kentucky Derby mint julep recipe

    Secrets to Making the Best Classic Mint Julep Recipe

    • Crushed ice. Crushed ice makes the best cocktails! It melts quickly which allows you to use natural ingredients and allow it to naturally get “watered down”. While we use the setting on our freezer or ice pellets, our friends use a snow cone machine to achieve the best crushed ice!
    • Use mint simple syrup (see above for the easy recipe).
    • Always use fresh mint.
    • If you’re not using mint simple syrup, muddle the mint to release it’s flavor.
    • Garnish with a mint sprig.

    You can serve this classic Mint Julep recipe in a silver cup or old fashioned glass. 

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    Kentucky Derby Mint Julep Recipe

    Course Drinks
    Cuisine American
    Keyword cocktail, easy cocktail, mint
    Servings 1
    Calories 130 kcal


    • ice crushed
    • 1 Tbsp mint simple syrup
    • 2 oz bourbon
    • 1 sprig of mint


    1. Fill glass to the brim with crushed ice.

    2. Add one tablespoon (or more to your liking) of simple syrup.

    3. Add 2 oz bourbon and stir rapidly to frost the outside of the glass.
    4. Add 1 sprig of mint. {we liked crushing it down into the glass for more flavor.

    Recipe Notes

    Want to skip making simple syrup? Simply purchase it and muddle your mint in the glass to release the flavor.

    Nutrition Facts
    Kentucky Derby Mint Julep Recipe
    Amount Per Serving
    Calories 130
    * Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

    Who knew that I could enjoy Bourbon? I love that this drink is just as much about the process and tradition as it is the mint julep itself. Enjoy!

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