Time for a Mint Julep

Juleps at a Derby party

Photo by Jeff Romaniuk

Well friends, the first Saturday of May is quickly approaching. Do you know what that means? If your answer was bourbon and a festooned headdress, I like you already! While I am known for taking my bourbon neat, even I can’t resist a mint julep on Derby Day. It is tradition after all!

Mint Juleps at Derby Day party

Photo by Jeff Romaniuk

The mint julep was popularized at the “Old White” (now The Greenbrier, a luxury resort in West Virginia) in the early 1800s. But for nearly a century now, it’s been the signature drink served at Churchill Downs. Can’t get there on Saturday? Here’s how to make your own.

Julep Ingredients

Photo by Jeff Romaniuk

2.5 oz Bourbon
1 Tblsp Simple Syrup
a few sprigs of Mint

Muddle your mint and simple syrup in your julep cup or highball glass.
Fill your glass halfway with crushed ice.
Add your bourbon.
Stir to mix. (This is when your julep cup will get frosty.)
Garnish with a mint sprig.

Mint Juleps at a Derby Day party

Photo by Jeff Romaniuk

A few tips:

Choose the right Bourbon:
While Churchill Downs now technically uses a whiskey in their juleps, the traditional julep is made with a Bourbon whiskey. That is a whiskey made in the USA with a specific ratio of grain to corn aged in new oak barrels.

Pick Your Mint:
My friend Billy prefers the Kentucky Colonel variety of mint which I think is rather appropriate for a Derby Day cocktail. But, use whatever variety you prefer.

A ‘muddler’ is a long pestle that’s commonly shaped like a baseball bat. The idea is to use the larger end to mash your ingredients. This will help release the flavor and break up the mint a little bit so it mixes well with your other ingredients.

Make a very Simple Syrup:
Simple syrup is super easy to make. In a small saucepan, mix 1 part water with 1 part sugar. Bring to a boil, and stir until the sugar dissolves. Not sure how quickly you’ll use your simple syrup? Add a little vodka. It doesn’t affect the taste, and will help prolong its life.

Why a Julep Cup?
Julep cups are hard to come by. What makes them special? The silver cups actually have a copper core to keep the contents colder.


Bonus: Want to make Deanne’s fabulous Derby Day hat? Click here to see the How-To! 

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About Hannah B. Slaughter 


I’m a graphic designer for HGTV and DIY who loves taking something old, making it new and then adding sparkle. Weekend activities include thrifting with my handsome husband, writing for ...

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