Mint Julep (How to Make a Mint Julep)

Fragrant and delicious, this classic mint julep recipe is made with bourbon, muddled mint leaves, and simple syrup for the perfect Kentucky Derby drink.

Mint julep in a glass, garnished with fresh mint.

Mint Julep Season!

It’s season, friends! Spring has sprung here in Minneapolis and the Kentucky Derby is right around the corner, making us want a mint julep cocktail. Our take on a mint julep is made with a simple syrup, bourbon, and muddled mint — and it’s so easy to make. We will accompany you!

What is a mint julep?

A mint julep is a cocktail made primarily of bourbon with sugar and mint, served over ice. It is commonly associated with the Kentucky Derby and is often served at the event as well as parties around the world.

Mint julep ingredients ready for mixing.

What you need

  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Simple syrup
  • bourbon
  • Ice

Easy exchange

Honey syrup -> granulated sugar syrup: We LOVE our Simple Honey Syrup recipe, but if you’d rather make a traditional granulated simple syrup for this mint julep, go ahead!

Bourbon -> Rye Whiskey: A traditional mint julep calls for bourbon, which has a sweeter flavor profile than rye whiskey. If you use rye whiskey instead, you know the cocktail will have an earthier flavor, making it less sweet. You may need to increase the simple sugars used to compensate.

How to make a mint julep

This mint julep recipe is as easy as 1-2-3. Especially if you already have a simple syrup on hand. Don’t have plain syrup? Learn how to make one below!

  1. Place mint leaves and simple syrup in a lowball glass and crush until mint is fragrant and slightly broken up. If you don’t have a pestle, the back of a wooden spoon will work too. This will not only help sweeten your mint julep, but infuse the entire cocktail with tangy mint.
  2. Add bourbon.
  3. Finally, fill the glass with crushed ice and stir. You are welcome to garnish with a mint leaf or two when serving.
Mint blended in the bottom of a glass for mint juleps.

How to make a simple syrup

Simple syrup is so easy to make at home. It sounds intimidating, but let me tell you, it’s not! We guide you through:

  1. Put water and sugar in a saucepan.
  2. Bring to a boil then reduce to low and simmer for 10 minutes to dissolve the sugar.
  3. Turn off heat and let cool for 10 minutes. Once cool, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.

Storage: Store plain syrup in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 10 days.

honey simple syrup

Try it!

Simple honey syrup

Our goal Honey easy syrup recipe is an excellent all natural simple syrup and so easy to make. It’s delicious in cocktails, lemonade, and even some baking recipes!

received prescription

Bourbon stirred into a glass of ice with muddled mint for a mint julep.

Best bourbon for mint juleps

  • maker’s mark
  • Basil Haydens
  • Woodford Reserve
  • A rye whiskey would also work, but gives these mint juleps an earthy flavor that’s less sweet

Can I make this cocktail in batches?

To turn this single serve cocktail into a pitcher, simply use our ingredient multiplier in the recipe card. Follow the recipe as is, then garnish each mint julep cocktail with a mint leaf or two.

Mint julep in a low ball glass garnished with fresh mint.

serving tips

  • Use fresh mint leaves: The mint should be the star of the show, so make sure you use fresh, flavorful mint leaves.
  • Making Simple Syrup: Simple syrup is a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water that can be used to sweeten cocktails. It’s easy to make and can be stored in the fridge for up to a month.
  • Use a good bourbon: A good bourbon is essential for a great mint julep. I recommend using at least a 90 proof bourbon.
  • Use crushed ice: Crushed ice helps cool the drink and gives it a refreshing texture. It also thins the bourbon slightly to make it nice and smooth.
  • Garnish with mint: A sprig of mint is the classic garnish for a mint julep. It gives the drink a touch of freshness and beauty.
  • Don’t confuse the mint too much: If the mint is over-stirred, too much of its oils will be released and the drink will be bitter.
  • Serve the mint julep in a julep cup: A julep cup is a traditional glass for serving mint juleps. It has a long stem and a wide mouth that helps cool the drink.
Mint julep in a glass, garnished with fresh mint.

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