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The mint julep is a refreshing drink that will make you feel like you’re on the porch of a southern plantation. Good news: you don’t need to be in the south to enjoy this bourbon-based cocktail.
Here’s what you’ll learn in this guide:
- What is a mint julep?
- The history of the mint julep.
- How to make a mint julep.
- What to serve with a mint julep.
Whether it’s Derby Day, or any day, you can now enjoy an authentic-tasting Kentucky classic: The Mint Julep. Let’s jump right into it and discover everything there is to know about this delicious cocktail!
5-6 mint leaves
Mint leaves are the star of the show here, so make sure you’ve got fresh mint and that it smells amazing. I like to use mint with larger leaves, as they stay on the bottom of the glass better when muddling (see below). Add 5–6 mint leaves to your julep cup, then add 1 teaspoon (5 mL) simple syrup. Using a muddler (or a wooden spoon), gently crush the mint against the side of the cup for about 30 seconds—you want to release its oils without bruising it.
The crushed mint should be in every layer of your drink, so pour as much as you can into each glass before starting on another batch. You’ll have some leftover simple syrup and crushed mint at this point; just discard them and start with fresh ingredients for each new batch.
1 tsp. brown sugar
- Add 1 teaspoon of brown sugar. You should adjust this to taste, as the amount of sugar you want will depend on how sweet your mint julep base is.
- Stir in the brown sugar until it dissolves and is evenly distributed throughout the drink. The brown sugar helps to balance out some of the intensity of the alcohol, and also makes your drink a little sweeter overall. In addition, stirring in the brown sugar at this point helps it dissolve into your drink without creating any clumps from undissolved crystals or making it too thick from over-dissolving the sugar.
2 oz bourbon (or more)
The heart of any mint julep is the alcohol, and bourbon is the preferred type. The drink has a long history in Kentucky, and it’s only fitting that one of their state-produced products would be the base. If you don’t like bourbon, or if you’re at a bar where they only have whiskey or rum (this has happened to me), then use that instead! There’s no need to buy something you don’t enjoy just for one drink.
As far as how much alcohol, that’s up to your personal preference—and the size of your glass. I like 2 oz (4 tablespoons). I also like a tiny bit more for good measure—I always let out a little sigh when I realize my glass is getting low, and more booze makes me feel better about that.
The key to a properly made mint julep is crushed ice. Ice cubes melt too quickly, diluting the drink. However, using too much crushed ice will create an overly watery drink that’s not good for you. Using too little crushed ice will make the drink uncomfortably strong. To get it right, you must follow this formula:
- One Lewis bag or small plastic bag
- 3 oz of crushed ice (approximately)
Crushed ice can be made at home by placing regular-sized cubes in a Lewis bag and pounding them with a wooden mallet until they reach the desired consistency. Make sure not to overfill the bag or hit it too hard!
This is a recipe for the mint julep cocktail
So you have decided to take a break from your usual glass of [insert name of drink] and instead, wish to sip on the refreshing flavors of a mint julep cocktail. Certainly an excellent decision. The mint julep consists of bourbon whiskey, sugar syrup, crushed ice and fresh mint leaves. To prepare this drink for yourself, you will need to follow these steps:
- Pour the bourbon into a highball glass with some ice cubes.
- Add two teaspoons of sugar syrup and give it all a good stir.
- Add some more ice cubes until the glass is almost filled to the top.
- Garnish with fresh sprigs of mint leaves and serve immediately.
If you’ve followed this recipe through the end, then I hope you’re enjoying your mint juleps. If not, don’t worry. Your drink will be ready soon and there are a few things you can do while it sits!
One thing you can do is to invite over your friends. Mint juleps are great for warm days spent with family and friends. You can chat about whatever topics interest you or play lawn games or even watch horse races! Another thing you could do is try out some other drinks. Do you have a favorite summer cocktail? Let me know on my social media and I may feature it in my next post!
I hope that this recipe was helpful to you and that now, on any day of the year, when nostalgia strikes and you crave a taste of summer, that you have the tools to make it happen!
What’s the difference between a julep and a mint julep?
A julep is a type of mixed drink made with spirits, sugar, water, and mint. While there are many non-mint variations of juleps, the word “mint” is often included in their name.
What kind of bourbon should I use for my mint julep?
While it’s not necessary to use premium bourbon for your mint julep, it is important to avoid using flavored bourbons (such as honey or cherry varieties).
How much alcohol does a classic mint julep contain?
A classic mint julep recipe contains 3 oz of bourbon.
How many ounces are in a classic silver or pewter cup?
A classic silver or pewter cup measures 8 oz. The standard measurement for ice cubes is 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch by 1/2 inch; two dozen such cubes will fit in an 8oz cup. Of course, if you don’t have exact measurements, you can achieve similar results by simply filling up your cup with ice cubes 3/4 of the way full.