If you’re looking for your own taste of Kentucky to get the fully immersive 2022 Kentucky Derby experience, we offer the famous Mint Julep recipe. In multiple forms. We spoke to several mixologists and bartenders to bring you the classic Mint Julep recipe and some twists to spice up the flavor. You’re running out of time to pick up the ingredients to take your Kentucky Derby gathering to the next level.
The Mint Julep has been the drink of the Kentucky Derby since 1938. Nearly 120,000 are expected to be served this weekend, requiring £1,000 of freshly harvested mint. There is no real romantic origin story as to why the drink has become synonymous with the Kentucky Derby – the Mint Julep was served there and it gained popularity as the drink. Even Mental Floss – our go-to for this kind of thing – came up relatively empty on some really fascinating history between the drink and the racetrack (although winning a silver julep cup at a state fair would have been pretty awesome).
In its simplest traditional form, a Mint Julep is made with fresh mint, bourbon (not whiskey), simple syrup, and shaved or crushed ice. And from experience we can tell you that the use of crushed ice is one of the most important parts of the quality of the drink. The classic Mint Julep recipe on the Kentucky Derby Website calls for rubbing the essential oils of the mint in the glass; muddling through the currency is an important step.
Despite all the hype, the Mint Julep is not a complicated cocktail. But we tried our best with the twists on the classic cocktail below. And for one final pro tip – get your coin NOW. Your local grocer will likely be swept away by other amateur mixologists.
Classic Mint Julep recipe
- Leaves of 4-5 sprigs of mint
- 1/2 oz. simple syrup
- 2 1/2 oz. bourbon
- In a heavy-bottomed julep mint cup or glass, gently mix mint and simple syrup.
- Add crushed ice and bourbon, stir.
- Garnish with ice and a sprig of mint.
Now let’s have some fun…
The traditional Mint Julep is all well and good, but it may not be for everyone. So we reached out to some expert mixologists and bartenders for a spin. The first two recipes come from contacts at the liquor companies themselves (yes, they’re not all bourbon, but whatever. You’re home. No problem). The third — the Hot Rod Julep — comes courtesy of Rabbit Hole’s resident mixologist, Ashley Angel.
Jameson Honey Julep
- 1.5 parts Jameson
- 0.75 parts Irish honey syrup
- 8-10 mint leaves
How to mix: Mix one part honey with one part boiling water. Lightly press and roll mint leaves along a derby glass. Fill the glass halfway with crushed ice and pour in half the liquid. Top with some crushed ice and pour in the remaining liquid. Garnish with mint sprig.
Smooth Ambler West Virginia Mulep
- 2 ounces Contradictory Bourbon
- 4-8 sprigs of fresh mint
- ¼ demerara syrup
- 2-3 ounces ginger beer/ale
How to mix: In a camping mug, mix mint into syrup, add bourbon and crushed ice, stir until mug cools, top with crushed ice and add ginger beer/ale. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
And if you’re feeling really ambitious…
Hot Rod Julep
- 1.5 oz Rabbit Hole Boxergrail Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey
- 1 oz Blackberry Jalapeño Infused Syrup (recipe below)
- 4-6 Basil leaves
- crushed ice
- GH Mumm Brut Champagne
- (For garnish) Basil leaves, Jalapeño round slice, Blackberries
ingredients (Simple Syrup – Recipe below):
- 1c Sugar
- 1c Water
- 10-15 Blackberries (rinsed)
- 1 jalapeño
- Smack basil leaf to release aromas and place in the bottom of the glass
- Add syrup
- Muddle leaf and syrup together
- Add a small amount of ice and stir
- Add Rabbit Hole rye whiskey
- Top and “overflow” with ice for the classic Julep look
- Pour the cocktail to the top with champagne (avoid pouring directly over ice that could melt)
- Garnish with beaten “expressed” basil leaves (bundle for appearance), round slice of jalapeño, and whole blackberry
Easy Syrup Recipe:
- Combine sugar and water in a saucepan on the stove and bring to a simmer
- Meanwhile, mix 10-15 blackberries and 1 whole jalapeño with seeds removed
- Once the sugar has dissolved, remove the syrup from the heat
- Add fruit and jalapeño to syrup and let it stand for 15 minutes
- Strain and let cool
(Photo by Aaron Josefczyk/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)