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How To: Make the Perfect Mint Julep

On a hot summer day, there isn't a cocktail that's as bold, yet refreshing as the Mint Julep. The combination of strong bourbon, fresh mint, and a hint of sweet simple syrup makes it the perfect cocktail to enjoy, even for people who don't consider themselves whiskey drinkers. 

The Mint Julep dates all the way back to the 18th century, and originated somewhere in The South. Although the exact details of when and how it was created are unknown — people were too busy drinking bourbon to jot these important facts down — the cocktail still holds strong as one of the most popular boozy beverages in the southern parts of America. It's also the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, but we think it's something to enjoy well into the summer and fall months. 



Although the ingredients are relatively simple, there's somewhat of a science that goes into making a julep. There are hundreds of twists on the recipe, and as many different methods to mixing, but we've come up with a simple, go-to recipe and tutorial to make the perfect mint julep every time. And since presentation is as important as what's inside, don't forget to serve it in a classic silver or pewter julep cup filled with crushed ice and garnished with a fresh mint sprig. 

A good julep starts with good bourbon, which is why we went with Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. Woodford Reserve is the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, so you know their bourbons are going to make a great julep every time. Their Double Oaked bourbon has notes of vanilla, caramel, and fruit and spices, which lends itself nicely to the sugar and mint leaves. The secret ingredient to our perfect julep is in the sweet stuff; we made a mint-infused simple syrup instead of a regular simple syrup. The extra hint-o-mint makes a big difference in the final cocktail. 



So grab a pewter cup (or a rocks glass, if you must), your floppy hat or bow tie, and get ready to mix up the perfect mint julep. Add this recipe to your cocktail repertoire if you really want to impress even the snooniest of cocktail connoisseurs. 

  • 6-8 fresh mint leaves + 1 sprig for garnish
  • 1 ounce mint simple syrup*
  • 2 ounces bourbon (we used Woodford Reserve Double Oaked)
  • 2-3 cups of crushed ice

*Mint Simple Syrup Recipe:

  • 1 cup white granulated sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • Handful of mint leaves (about 1 cup packed)



To Make the Mint Simple Syrup: Fill a small pot with water, sugar and mint leaves. Gently stir until sugar dissolves. Over medium heat, bring mixture to a gentle boil. Once boiling, remove from heat and let cool. Set aside. 

To Make the Julep: Start by throwing in your mint leaves into a julep cup. Frosting your julep cups beforehand is totally optional, but recommended!

Gently muddle the leaves on the side of the glass, enough to release the oils and fragrance but not too much to break them apart.

Pour in mint simple syrup. Add just 1 cup of ice. Pour bourbon over the ice.

Stir well using a cocktail spoon. 

Top with crushed ice, enough to fill the top of the julep cup. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig, add straw and serve! 

Makes: 1 Mint Julep

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