Kentucky Derby Mint Julep Recipe

Considered the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, the Mint Julep cocktail is a beverage made using sugar, bourbon, and mint leaves. Each year, over 120,000 Mint Juleps are served during Kentucky Derby weekend at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Whether you want to expand your classic cocktail offerings or host a derby-themed party, a Kentucky Derby Mint Julep recipe is a delicious beverage addition to your menu. Keep reading to find our Kentucky Derby Mint Julep recipe, learn how to muddle mint leaves, and see our suggestions for how to serve this classic cocktail.

Shop All Mint Julep Cups

When Is the Kentucky Derby?

The Kentucky Derby takes place on Saturday, May 6th, 2023. By hosting a viewing party, complete with sun hats and Mint Juleps, you can use this event as a bar marketing opportunity. Be sure your business has access to the race and that you are tuned in at the right time. The Kentucky Derby track is only 1 1/4 miles and the race is over in minutes. It is important to draw attention to the screens before those gates open.

Mint Julep Recipe Video

Use the following video to learn how to create a classic Mint Julep recipe:

Kentucky Derby Mint Julep Recipe

This is how to make a Mint Julep for your Kentucky Derby-themed party:

Mint Julep Ingredients

Below are the ingredients in a Mint Julep recipe:

  • 3 sprigs of fresh mint
  • 1 teaspoon of water
  • 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar
  • 2 ounces of bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon of powdered sugar
  • Crushed ice

How to Make a Mint Julep

Here is how to make a classic Mint Julep recipe:

  1. Put granulated sugar, water, and leaves from mint sprigs into glass. Save a few leaves for garnishing.
  2. Muddle everything together in bottom of glass.
  3. Pour in bourbon.
  4. Fill separate glass with crushed ice.
  5. Using julep strainer, pour bourbon mixture over ice.
  6. Garnish with remaining mint leaves, and sprinkle powdered sugar on top.
  7. Serve and enjoy!

Editor's Tip: You can use 1 Tablespoon of simple syrup instead of water and sugar.

How Do You Muddle Mint Leaves?

Muddling mint helps to release flavorful mint oil that enhances your Mint Julep recipe. Here's how to properly muddle mint leaves:

  1. Select a glass with a sturdy base and sides, like a pint glass or a mixing tin.
  2. Put your mint leaves in the glass, along with any sugar or fruit your recipe calls for.
  3. Use a muddler to gently press down on the mint leaves. After pressing on the mint, twist the muddler slightly. Repeat this a few times, but be careful not to tear the mint leaves too much. This will give your drink a toothpaste-like taste that overpowers the other flavors.

What Bourbon Is Best for Mint Julep?

The best bourbon for a Mint Julep is Woodford Reserve. Woodford Reserve is the official bourbon for the Mint Juleps at the Kentucky Derby because of its bold, oaky, and fruity flavors that pair well with the mint. Bourbon specifically is used because it is sweeter than other types of whiskeys made with different grains.

How to Serve Mint Juleps

For over a century, Mint Juleps have been served in sterling silver cups at the Kentucky Derby. Since the 1950s, Churchill Downs has produced an official sterling silver Mint Julep cup for the event. These silver cups are prized for their opulence and ability to become frosted with the addition of the cocktail's crushed ice, like Moscow Mule copper cups. Today, many establishments opt for more affordable glass, pewter, or stainless steel alternatives when serving the iconic Mint Julep recipe.

how to make a Mint Julep

Whether you're hosting a viewing party for the Kentucky Derby or you want to add a classic cocktail to your bar offerings, the Mint Julep is a great option made from simple ingredients. The freshness of mint combined with rich bourbon and sugar gives this cocktail a distinctive taste that is perfect for spring and summer.

Posted in: Bars & Breweries|Recipes|By Christine Potts
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