Kentucky Derby Mint Julep Recipe

LAST UPDATED: Jun 04, 2020 | PUBLISHED: May 02, 2016 | By: Julie Blanner

The best Mint Julep recipe, straight from the Kentucky Derby! This classic mint julep is a mixed drink everyone will love! This bourbon cocktail is easily made at home and features a delicious mint simple syrup. 

A mint julep garnished with fresh mint in a Kentucky Derby glass

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.

I tried a 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.

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.

Who knew that Bourbon was so good? I love that this drink is just as much about the process and tradition as it is the mint julep itself. It has a hint of sweetness from the simple syrup and the bourbon isn’t overpowered by the mint, it’s just perfect! It’s such a refreshing and easy drinking cocktail that I’ll be enjoying all summer long!

A Kentucky Derby cocktail on a barrel

What’s In a Mint Julep

  • Ice – Crushed ice is definitely the way to go when making a mint julep, don’t use full ice cubes. You can buy crushed ice or pop some ice cubes in a ziplock bag and give them a good bash with a rolling pin. 
  • Mint Simple Syrup – Mint simple syrup is so quick and easy to make, I’ve included the recipe for this below, or you can of course buy it if you prefer.
  • Bourbon: The cocktail I tried and loved was made with Old Forester Kentucky Bourbon, but this recipe works well with all kinds, so use your favorite.
  • Mint sprig: For garnish and aroma.

How To Make A Kentucky Derby Mint Julep

  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.

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 water and sugar until clear.
  2. Remove from heat.
  3. Add mint sprigs and allow to cool.
  4. Refrigerate until use.

A mint julep on top of a whisky barrel

The Best Bourbon To Use In Cocktails

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

To Garnish

This cocktail recipe doesn’t require much in the garnish department, but it definitely adds to the aroma and flavor so don’t skip it! Before you add the mint sprig to the glass, clap it between your hands. This helps to release the oils and make it more fragrant.

A Kentucky Derby mint julep with garnish ready to drink

Tips

  • 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. 

A mint julep garnished with a large mint sprig and served with a straw

More Cocktail Recipes

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classic Kentucky Derby mint julep recipe

Kentucky Derby Mint Julep Recipe

Julie Blanner
The best Mint Julep recipe, straight from the Kentucky Derby! A classic mixed drink everyone will love! This bourbon cocktail is easily made at home and features a delicious mint simple syrup. 
0 from 0 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 5 mins
Total Time 10 mins
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Servings 1 drink
Calories 186 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • ice crushed
  • 1 tablespoon mint simple syrup
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • 1 sprig of mint

Instructions
 

  • Fill glass to the brim with crushed ice.
  • Add one tablespoon (or more to your liking) of simple syrup.
  • Add 2 oz bourbon and stir rapidly to frost the outside of the glass.
  • Add 1 sprig of mint. {we liked crushing it down into the glass for more flavor.

Notes

Mint Simple Syrup Recipe
  1. Boil 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water for 5 minutes or until clear.
  2. Remove from heat.
  3. Add 4 sprigs of mint and allow to cool.
  4. Refrigerate until use.
Want to skip making simple syrup? Simply purchase it and muddle your mint in the glass to release the flavor.
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!
Always use fresh mint.
You can serve this classic Mint Julep recipe in a silver cup or old fashioned glass. 

Nutrition

Calories:186kcalCarbohydrates:15gProtein:1gFat:1gSodium:14mgSugar:15gVitamin A:85IUIron:1mg
Keywords classic mint julep recipe, derby mint julep, kentucky derby cocktail, kentucky derby mint julep recipe, mint julep recipe, mint simple syrup recipe
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