A simple blend of bourbon, simple syrup and mint, The Mint Julep has served as the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby for more than a century. There’s a wide variety of authentic methods for preparing this iconic Southern drink but this recipe, adapted from “Southern Living Feel Good Food,” is by far our favorite.
- 8 to 10 fresh mint leaves
- 1 ounce mint syrup (see instructions below)
- Crushed ice
- 3 ounces bourbon
- 1 ounce soda water (optional)
- Fresh mint sprig for garnish
- Place mint leaves and syrup in a chilled julep cup, and muddle. Pack the cup tightly with crushed ice, add the bourbon, top with soda water and garnish with a mint sprig.
How To Make Mint Syrup:
- Place 1-1/2 cups sugar and 1-1/2 cups water in a small saucepan. Bring the mixture to a boil and stir until the sugar is completely dissolved, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat, add about 15 fresh mint sprigs, and allow to cool completely. Cover and refrigerate for 24 hours, then strain the syrup and discard the solids.
Makes about 1-3/4 cups
Mint Syrup Flavor Variations
Prepare the mint syrup as directed above, reducing the sugar to 1/2 cup and stirring 3/4 cup fresh grapefruit juice, 1/2 cup honey, 3 (2 x 4-inch) grapefruit rind strips, and the rind from 1 lime (cut into strips) into the sugar mixture along with the mint. To make the julep, muddle with 1 small grapefruit rind strip with the mint leaves.
Prepare the mint syrup as directed above, substituting basil for mint and stirring 2 (5-1/2 ounce) cans peach nectar and 1 split vanilla bean into sugar mixture along with the basil. To make the julep, muddle 1 peach slice with the mint leaves.
Prepare the mint syrup as directed above, adding 6 oounce of fresh blackberries, halved, along with the mint. To make the julep, muddle 2 fresh blackberries with the mint leaves.
Prepare the mint syrup as directed above, reducing the sugar to 1 cup, adding 1/2 cup light brown sugar, 1 cup pineapple juice, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice, and 3 (3-inch) pieces fresh lemongrass into sugar mixture along with the mint. To make the julep, muddle 1 small pineapple chunk with the mint leaves.
Flavored syrup recipes courtesy “Southern Living Feel Good Food,” a collection of 150 recipes for Southern-style comfort food with a modern flair.