Mint Julep Recipes

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Mint juleps are practically synonymous with the Kentucky Derby, and indeed, large quantities of this traditional southern drink are enjoyed during the “Run for the Roses.” First served at the Derby in 1938 in souvenir glasses, today more than 80,000 glasses of julep are consumed during the two-day Kentucky Derby celebration. If you are hosting a Kentucky Derby party, or plan to watch the iconic race on television, a pitcher of mint julep is a necessity to create the proper Derby ambience. But don’t limit yourself to enjoying this refreshing, sweet drink only on the day of the race. Mint juleps are delicious any time of year, and particularly nice on a hot, humid summer night.

A traditional mint julep involves bourbon, sugar, water and mint, but there are many variations in the creation of this cocktail, which has been enjoyed for over two hundred years. Purists will insist that a mint julep must be sipped from a chilled silver or pewter mug, but if you don’t have one on hand, a chilled, tall cocktail glass will do. You can prepare a pitcher of julep in advance of your Kentucky Derby party, and keep chilled in the refrigerator until serving.

Traditional Mint Julep Recipe

For a traditional drink, you will first make the mint syrup.


  • 1-1/2 cups fresh mint, coarsely chopped
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  1. Combine all ingredients in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat.
  2. Stir constantly until sugar is completely dissolved.
  3. Remove from heat. Cover and let cool.
  4. Pour mixture through a strainer to remove the mint leaves.
  5. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Once you are ready to prepare your juleps, you will need:

  • Mint syrup already prepared
  • Bourbon
  • Fresh mint sprigs
  • Powdered sugar
  • Crushed ice
  1. Fill a chilled glass with crushed ice.
  2. Combine 2 to 4 tablespoons of bourbon with 1 tablespoon of mint syrup, pour over ice.
  3. Garnish with fresh mint sprigs and a dash of powdered sugar.

To prepare a pitcher of mint juleps, combine 1 cup of mint syrup for every 2 to 3 cups of bourbon.

mint julep recipes mint julep recipes

Alternative Mint Julep Recipes

If the traditional mint julep is not for you, or you want to serve a variety of cocktails at your Kentucky Derby party, try some drinks that are similar to a mint julep, with the same refreshing spirit.

Lemon Mint Cooler Recipe


  • 2 (16 ounce) bottles of fresh lemonade
  • 2 cups vodka
  • 4 cups ice cubes
  • 2 lemons, halved
  • 8 sprigs fresh mint
  1. In blender, combine lemonade and vodka, then fill blender with ice.
  2. Blend until ice is crushed.
  3. Pour evenly into four chilled glasses.
  4. Garnish with lemon halves and mint sprigs.

Kiwi Mint Julep Recipe


  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 cups ice
  • 3 kiwi fruit, peeled
  • 2 tablespoons frozen limeade mix
  • 2 tablespoons chopped mint
  • 3 ounces bourbon
  1. In small saucepan, heat water and sugar until sugar dissolves completely. Let cool.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a blender, mix until smooth.
  3. Pour evenly into two chilled glasses.

Georgia Julep Recipe


  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • Crushed ice
  • Water
  • ¾ ounce brandy
  • ¾ ounce peach brandy
  • Fresh mint sprigs
  1. Dissolve sugar in just enough water to cover.
  2. Fill chilled glass with ice.
  3. Pour in brandy and peach brandy.
  4. Stir in dissolved sugar.
  5. Garnish with mint.

Mojito Recipe


  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 8 mint leaves
  • Club soda
  • 1 lime, halved
  • 2 ounces light rum
  • Mint sprigs
  1. Place sugar, mint leaves and a little club soda into a chilled glass.
  2. Muddle to dissolve sugar and release mint oils.
  3. Squeeze lime halves over glass, collecting juice. Drop one-half lime into glass.
  4. Add rum, stir well.
  5. Fill glass with ice, then add rest of club soda.

Strawberry Mojito Recipe


  • White sugar
  • 1 lime, quartered
  • Small bunch mint leaves
  • 4 strawberries, quartered
  • ½ cup sugar
  • ½ cup rum
  • 1 cup club soda
  • 4 cups ice cubes
  1. Spread a thin coating of white sugar on a plate.
  2. Run a lime quarter around each of four chilled glasses, then dip rim of glasses into the sugar to coat.
  3. Squeeze lime quarters into pitcher, then drop in the limes.
  4. Add mint, strawberries, and 1 cup of sugar. Crush with a muddler.
  5. Stir in rum and club soda until sugar dissolves.
  6. Pour evenly into four sugared glasses with ice.

Nonalcoholic Mint Julep Recipe


  • 1 tablespoon mint syrup
  • ½ cup ginger ale
  • Ice
  • Mint sprigs
  1. Fill bottom of chilled glass with ice.
  2. Pour in mint syrup, topped with ginger ale.
  3. Stir with mint sprigs, leave as garnish.

Nonalcoholic Fruity Julep Recipe


  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1 ounce orange juice
  • 1 ounce pineapple juice
  • ½ ounce raspberry syrup
  • Club soda
  • Mint sprigs
  1. Combine all ingredients except for club soda in shaker half filled with ice. Shake well.
  2. Pour into chilled glass. Add club soda and stir.
  3. Garnish with mint sprigs.

Whether your taste tends to the traditional mint julep or you prefer an alternative, a refreshing drink with mint is a must-have while you cheer on the horses of the Kentucky Derby. Prepare chilled beverages before your Derby party, and get ready to enjoy the race.

Last Updated: April 26, 2012
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About Michelle Ullman Michelle Ullman has lived and gardened in Southern California since childhood. A freelance writer, she covers topics ranging from gardening to home improvement to health issues. She also has experience as a catalog copywriter and poet. Michelle has trained and worked as a respiratory therapist and surgical technologist, but prefers to spend her time gardening, and walking with her dog. Michelle holds a Bachelor's Degree from Redlands University in Business Management. 

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