Spring is finally in full effect, and with that comes some of our favorite cocktails! And while Derby day at Churchill Downs racecourse has already passed, it wouldn’t be May without a good Mint Julep.

2. Mint Julep, the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby

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Brief History of the Mint Julep

This famous classic cocktail is the semi-official drink of the Kentucky Derby, but it actually has a very long, rich history.

Originating in Persia and then the Mediterranean, the Julep began as a rosewater bath around 200-300 AD and eventually became known as a health and skincare tonic by the 9th century before its current incarnation became popular in the States in the late 18th century.

Who knew?!?

And due to a lot of politics, taxes, and the Whiskey Rebellion of 1794– which we won’t get into– whiskey production ended up thriving in Kentucky, ultimately causing the Julep to become associated with the South and then the Derby. In fact, it’s very likely that this delicious drink was served at the first Derby in 1875 because it was already a popular cocktail by that time.


3. Mint sprigs for garnish on a cutting board


Mint Julep Ingredients

Traditionally made with 2 ounces bourbon whiskey, 1/2 ounce simple syrup (or 2 sugar cubes crushed with a splash of water), and a generous sprig of mint, this is a pretty darn easy cocktail to make and requires very little prep time.

Because there are so few ingredients, this delicious tasting drink is a good mix of spicy bourbon flavor, aromatic mint flavor, and sugar.

Because it’s basically bourbon over ice with sugar and fresh mint, it’s a somewhat sweet drink– and also a lighter drink than you’d maybe expect!


How to Make Mint Juleps

There isn’t much to making this classic drink, which makes it all the better. Gather your ingredients & bar tools, and check out how Chris does it in the video:



Tip: Use the freshest mint you can so that it’s not too bitter, and also use quality bourbon since it’s the main ingredient and covered up by little else.


Mint Julep Variations

Again, because this is a pretty basic cocktail, you can have a little fun with it! Of course, there’s nothing to hide behind because this drink is so simple; you really have to work with balance and precision when working with a Julep. Here are some of the most common alternative drink options:

  • Use powdered sugar instead of granulated sugar, or garnish with powdered sugar.
  • Add an extra 1/2 oz of bourbon for a total of 2 1/2 ounces of bourbon instead of 2 ounces.
  • Create a mint syrup (boil 1 cup sugar to 1 cup water, and steep 8-10 mint leaves in the mixture for a simple syrup with mint).


4. wooden cocktail muddler with cocktail shaker and fresh mint

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Here are a few more creative options:

  • Add fruit– muddle up peaches, strawberries, blackberries, or cherries.
  • Try a lavender julep by infusing this botanic into your syrup. Or make other syrup infusions!
  • Infuse your base spirit– Try a honey bourbon, for example.
  • Split the base spirit, and combine a shot of bourbon with 1 ounce of mezcal— or another liquor of your choice. We have an awesome Julep with Fernet Branca Menta on the blog!
  • Replace the bourbon completely! Try it with gin or tequila— like our tequila melon Julep.
  • Create a honey syrup for a different type of sweetness, or use maple syrup instead.
  • The mint is really quintessential here, so don’t eliminate it… But you could pair it with another herb as well if you’re feeling creative in that area.


5. bartender holding a classic bourbon cocktail

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OK, ready to grab this classic cocktail recipe? Scroll down to see how to make this bourbon-based cocktail, and also let us know which fresh mint julep recipe version is your favorite: Do you love it with strawberry? Or are you a fan of the original cocktail of Derby fame? Let us know in the comments. Cheers!

6. Mint julep, garnish with mint sprig

Mint Julep

A traditional, classic Mint Julep with bourbon and mint-- you can't go wrong!
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Course: Drinks



  • 2 oz Maker’s Mark Bourbon
  • 10 each Fresh Mint Leaves Plus extra mint for garnish
  • 1/2 oz Simple Syrup
  • 1 tsp Powdered Sugar For garnish


  • Very lightly muddle the fresh mint in a Mint Julep cup (or double Old-Fashioned glass).
  • Prepare your crushed ice in a Lewis bag, and smash with an ice hammer.
  • Add the simple syrup and bourbon, and fill the cup or cocktail glass halfway with crushed ice.
  • Stir for approximately 15 seconds with a bar spoon, until the glass frosts on the outside of your Julep cup.
  • Garnish with extra crushed ice, a sprig of fresh mint, and (optional) powdered sugar.