Love bourbon? Learn how to make a mint julep from scratch! This classic Kentucky cocktail is perfect for hot summer days and Derby day!
Each spring, I start collecting mint plants. Sweet mint, peppermint, chocolate mint, pineapple mint– any mint is fair game! (Is that normal? I think it’s normal.)
And each spring, my mom collects mint by accident, because the invasive and hardy plants that I buried in her garden years and years ago are still popping up to say “hello!” to the world. You could say it’s my legacy.
As any self-respecting bourbon lover knows– mint and bourbon were born to be together. They’re a classic combination– like peas and carrots, you might say.
This recipe tutorial will walk you through how to make a mint julep– the classic Kentucky cocktail that mixes mint and bourbon into a refreshing glass of awesomeness.
Do I Need A Cocktail Mix?
No! In fact, those neon green bottles of mint julep mix should stay far, far away from your liquor cabinet.
How to Make a Mint Julep from Scratch
If you want to learn how to make a mint julep– you’ve come to the right place. And you don’t need anything fancy to get started.
To make a mint julep, you need three ingredients– and you might want a fourth.
First, you need mint. Are you growing mint in your garden? This is a perfect time to use unusual varieties of mint. (My favorite mint for this is chocolate mint.)
Next, you need bourbon. Not sure what kind to buy? Check out this How to Taste Bourbon guide. (Or buy my favorite– classic Maker’s Mark.)
Finally, you need sugar. You’ll be turning the sugar into a quick and easy simple syrup along with a little water.
What’s the optional fourth ingredient? I like to add sparkling water, tonic water, or club soda to my mint julep. It adds a little sparkle and fizz, and makes the cocktail even more refreshing.
Do I Need Any Special Bar Equipment?
Not really. You need to muddle the mint leaves into the simple syrup by pressing them around in the syrup. This will release some flavor from the mint into the syrup. So, you might want a cocktail muddler.
Don’t have one? You can also use a pestle or the handle of a wooden spoon.
Do I Need Special Julep Glasses?
No. Traditionally, juleps are served in metal julep glasses (like the ones in the photos). These glasses are nice because they keep this icy drink extra cold.
If you’ve ever experienced a hot, muggy summer in Kentucky– you’ll understand why this is a very good thing.
That said, it’s perfectly acceptable to serve a mint julep in whatever glass you do have. If you’re skipping the sparkling water, an old fashioned glass would be perfect. If you’re adding sparkling water (or club soda, or tonic water), a highball glass would also work well.
How to Make a Mint Julep
Once you’ve gathered all your ingredients, simply chill your glasses, muddle the mint with a little simple syrup, add the ice, add the bourbon, and stir it all up!
Pour a little sparkling water on top (if you want), and top it all off with a little more mint! Enjoy this cold, refreshing drink, and then let me know what you think!
Want to LEARN MORE ABOUT BOURBON? Read these:
Want more BOURBON COCKTAILS? Try these:
- Kentucky Bourbon Coffee
- Bourbon Sour with Lavender
- Mint Julep Recipe with Blackberries and Lemon from Striped Spatula
How to Make a Mint Julep
Yields 1 cocktail
- 1 cup sugar
- 5 mint leaves, plus more for garnish
- 1 tsp simple syrup, or more if desired
- 2 oz bourbon
- crushed ice
- Optional: sparkling water, club soda, or tonic water
- Make simple syrup: In a small saucepan, heat 1 cup water with 1 cup sugar until sugar dissolves. Set aside to cool. Use 1 tsp per mint julep cocktail.Store leftover syrup in a sealed container in the fridge. Use in more mint juleps, iced tea, or other drinks. Use within a year.
- Chill an old fashioned cocktail glass (or mint julep cup). Muddle mint leaves and simple syrup until mint leaves look softened and smell very fragrant.
- Fill glass with crushed ice, then pour bourbon over ice. Stir once or twice, and fill glass with sparkling water, club soda, or tonic water if desired.
- Garnish with more mint. Serve immediately.