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Mint Julep recipe: The must-have cocktail at your Kentucky Derby party

Mint Julep
Mint Julep

There is a southern beverage masterpiece that has delighted the palates of Southern society and derby race fans for many years. This fun and refreshing drink is none other than The Mint Julep. As staple cocktail at the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Derby parties, the Mint Julep features fresh mint and Kentucky bourbon.

Captain Frederick Marryat’s diary (1838):

"I must....descant a little upon the mint-julep, as it is, with the thermometer at 100 degrees F., one of the most delightful and insinuating potations that ever was invented, and may be drunk with equal satisfaction when the thermometer is as low as 70 degrees."

The official recipe for a Mint Julep not secret; however the secret to a perfect Mint Julep is to serve it in a frosted silver cup. When a Mint Julep is served in a silver cup, it comes to you perfectly chilled with unsmudged condensation for a perfectly frosted presentation.

The 140th annual run of the Kentucky Derby will be held on May 3, 2014. The derby will begin at 4:00pm ET and will be televised on the NBC network. The derby usually lasts around two minutes; therefore it would be unadvised to be fashionably late. For more information on the 2014 Kentucky Derby, please visit the official website of the 140th Kentucky Derby.

Ready to try your hand at making a Mint Julep?

Mint Julep recipe


  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 1/2 cup lightly torn fresh mint leaves
  • 32 fluid ounces Kentucky bourbon
  • 8 sprigs fresh mint leaves for garnish


  1. Combine water, sugar in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Turn heat to medium and continue to boil for 5 minutes. Allow syrup to cool, approximately 1 hour.
  2. Pour syrup is a container with lightly torn mint leaves; cover and refrigerate overnight. Remove mint leaves before assembling the cocktail.
  3. Fill eight chilled cups or frozen silver goblets with finely crushed ice and pour 4 ounces of bourbon and 1/4 cup mint syrup in each. (Proportions can be adjusted depending on each person's sweet tooth).
  4. Top each cup with a mint sprig and a straw. Trim straws to just barely protrude from the top of the cups.

Mint Juleps are a time honored tradition at the Kentucky Derby and in many southern social circles. As you can see, making a Mint Julep is not too difficult and the mint flavor is refreshing. Have some friends over for a Kentucky Derby party this year and serve up your own new tradition!

Henry Watterson, the longtime editor of The Louisville Courier-Journal, with the best-known description of how to make a mint julep:

"Pluck the mint gently from its bed, just as the dew of the evening is about to form upon it. Select the choicer sprigs only, but do not rinse them. Prepare the simple syrup and measure out a half-tumbler of whiskey. Pour the whiskey into a well-frosted silver cup, throw the other ingredients away and drink the whiskey."

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