Mint Julep

Perfect for Derby Day or any other warm day, this cool and refreshing mint julep recipe is made with crushed ice, an easy simple syrup, Kentucky bourbon and fresh mint. This iconic Kentucky cocktail is just what you need this summer!

Looking for other Derby Day party food or drinks?  For an alternative drink, try my Kentucky Lemonade Cocktail.  For some amazing appetizers, try my Beer Cheese, Sausage Rotel Dip, Bourbon BBQ Smoked Chicken Wings, or Chicken Taco Pinwheels.

This Southern mint julep recipe is pretty close to the iconic Derby Day cocktail, made with simple syrup, Kentucky bourbon, fresh mint, and crushed ice.  Cool and refreshing, it's perfect on a summer day! #mintjulep #bourbon #derbyday #cocktail #mint #kentucky #southern #sipper


Are you a sports fan?  Most people who say yes to that love more traditional sports like football or baseball (yes to both for me please!!), but did you know that the Kentucky Derby is the longest running sporting event in the United States?

It takes place the first Saturday in May, annually, and is held in Louisville, Kentucky.  I’ve never actually been, but I have family that lives in Louisville, so I like to think of myself as an honorary Kentuckian!

So why am I going on about the Kentucky derby?

Well because the mint julep is the official drink of the derby, with over 120,000 mint juleps served over the derby weekend each year!  That’s a lot of bourbon!

Normally, Derby Day is the first Saturday in May, but with all the health issues the world has had so far this year, it’s be postponed until September 5.  I don’t know about you, but I may just have to celebrate the traditional day in May with an ice cold mint julep cocktail!

I’ve never had one of the infamous cocktails at Churchill Downs (where the Derby is run), but this is my spin on the classic mint julep!

making a mint julep cocktail


  1. Prepare simple syrup.  This is best done ahead of time.  It needs to be cooled when you add it to your cocktail.  The good news is, a simple syrup can be refrigerated for up to 2 weeks, so feel free to make it as early as you need to.
  2. Add mint and simple syrup to glass and muddle.  Muddle is a fancy term for mashing together, so the flavors are “muddled” and not distinctive anymore.  You can use a cocktail muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon, and just press down to sort of mash the mint into the syrup.
  3. Add plenty of crushed ice.  Almost all the way up to the top of the glass.  If it mounds over a little, that’s totally fine too.  You want A LOT of ice.
  4. Pour in water and bourbon.  Don’t worry, you’re not watering down the bourbon, it’s just a splash of water to help take some of the bite and burn out of a solid 2 oz of bourbon.
  5. Stir, garnish, and serve.


At the Kentucky Derby, mint juleps come in a beautiful silver cup.  The idea is once you add all the ingredients, the drink is stirred rapidly and the crushed ice causes the cup to frost on the outside.

It’s a beautiful sight, but I don’t have any of those cups, so I usually serve mine in a double old-fashioned glass instead.

two glasses with bourbon cocktail


They both utilize the amazingness of fresh mint, and a simple syrup… but where a mint julep is different is that it doesn’t have any citrus juice and it uses bourbon instead of rum.


  • Use quality bourbon –  Bourbon is absolutely the star here, so use your favorite brand.  Woodford Reserve is the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, but Knob Creek and Maker’s Mark are great alternatives.
  • Use plenty of ice… preferably crushed –  It really chills the drink, and mint juleps are traditionally served with a TON of ice.
  • Sipper bewareMint juleps are a fabulous warm-weather cocktail, and amazingly refreshing to drink!  But it’s definitely a strong drink… non-bourbon drinkers may find it a bit too strong, so feel free to add more simple syrup and water to dilute the bourbon.

classic mint julep in clear glass


  • NON-ALCOHOLIC – There’s really no way to make a non-alcoholic mint julep taste the same as a regular one, since bourbon has a distinctive taste.  But here’s how to make a mint julep that’s beautiful, yet alcohol-free:
    • When making the simple syrup, add a splash of lemon juice
    • Replace bourbon with ginger ale
  • SIMPLE SYRUP ALTERNATIVE – If a simple syrup isn’t possible, add some granulated sugar to the mint and muddle (just as you would with the syrup).  I definitely prefer the syrup though, since sugar can make the drink a bit grainy.


This cocktail comes together SO quickly, there’s really no need for making it ahead of time – and you want it to be ice cold when you sip it, so it’s definitely best served fresh.

However, you CAN, and should, make the simple syrup ahead of time.

Simple syrup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.


There really isn’t any storage necessary, as this recipe is only for a single cocktail.

fresh mint in a classic mint julep cocktail


  • Cocktail Muddler – a wooden spoon handle works well too, but I really love the grooves on this muddler… it works SO well!
  • Double Old Fashioned Glasses –  these glasses are perfect for so many drinks, and not just cocktails!



Recipe originally published in 2018, and has been republished in 2020 with additional information.

classic mint julep in clear glass

Mint Julep Recipe

Perfect for Derby Day or any other warm day, this cool and refreshing mint julep recipe is made with crushed ice, Kentucky bourbon and fresh mint.
4.9 from 22 votes
Prep Time 5 mins
Cook Time 10 mins
chilling time 1 hr
Total Time 15 mins
Servings 1 drink
Calories 133


  • 4-5 fresh mint leaves, - roughly torn
  • 1 1/2 - 2 oz simple syrup (recipe below in recipe notes)
  • crushed ice
  • splash of cold water
  • 2 oz bourbon
  • sprig of fresh mint - (for garnish - optional)


  • To bottom of serving glass, add mint leaves and simple syrup.  Muddle together with a muddler or handle of a wooden spoon.  
  • Top with plenty of crushed ice, then pour in splash of cold water, and bourbon.  
  • Stir, garnish with the sprig of mint, and serve!


Simple Syrup Recipe
1 cup water
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
Add water and sugar to small saucepan.  Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally until sugar dissolves, boiling about 2 minutes.  Remove from heat and let cool completely.
** makes more than needed for this recipe, but leftovers can be kept refrigerated 1-2 weeks **
Author The Chunky Chef
Tried this recipe?Mention @the_chunky_chef or tag #thechunkychef!

If changing the recipe serving quantity, the recipe plugin will change the ingredient values for you, but it does NOT change the written instructions, those are manually added and not subject to a slider/button. You will have to extrapolate that multiplication to any amounts listed in the instructions.

For example: if an ingredient calls for 4 cups, and you doubled the recipe, it will automatically change to 8 cups. In the instructions, if I say “use 4 cups of cheese”, you will have to realize that since you doubled it, you use 8 cups, not 4


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Recipe Rating

30 comments on “Mint Julep”

  1. I made and drank this Mint Julep today for the Kentucky Derby. Used Makers Mark, my home grown mint leaves and it was delicious. Thank you for this wonderful drink.

  2. This was way too sweet for my taste. I’m a bourbon drinker, so I prefer to taste it. It recommend 3/4 oz max of the simple syrup.

    Ps I love your sloppy joe recipe. 

  3. This is the perfect Julep!

  4. I love how refreshing this is!! So delicious!

  5. Oh my goodness! I need one of these right now!

  6. This loos delicious! Great way to end every week with!

  7. This sounds so refreshing for summer!

  8. Such a refreshing classic and your pictures are absolutely gorgeous!

  9. Always a favorite. I love all the mint!

  10. This was fantastic! Thank you for posting! We only added one quick stir at the end to bring the sweetness up into the bourbon. I will check out other ideas you post!

  11. This is not how they just demonstrated making the Kentucky derby mint julep! They use honey that has been aged in a bourbon barrel for over a 120 days they took the mint leaves and rubbed them all over the inside of the cup added 2 tsp. of the aged honey sauce in bottom of cup a shot of bourbon lots of ice they place a silver stirrer in the cup and garnish with mint leaves. They had 2 different cups one sold for 1000 dollars the other which was served in a good cup sold for 2500 dollars a piece! Expensive drink for no more than you get but everything used in the drink is locally grown or produced there locally and the money goes to a good cause

  12. This looks incredibly delicious! I’m going to have to try this.

  13. Mmmm, this sounds so good. I would like to try it without the bourbon!

  14. Looks absolutely awesome! Such a fun cocktail, really can’t wait to give this a try!

  15. This is exactly what I need for my relaxing evenings! Looks so good!

  16. I always love a cool and refreshing drink! This looks spot on!

  17. This looks so light and refreshing! I want to be sipping it by the pool!

  18. My husband would love it for sure. I would like to try it though. I’m curious how it tastes like. 🙂

  19. Sounds delicious. This past weekend I realized I’ve never actually tried a mint julep so this may be the recipe for me to try one!

  20. First time I had a mint julep I was a precocious teen looking for trouble while working at a rest home kitchen. Yours looks much more appealing and I’m sure it tastes it as well!

  21. I adore the layers of colors in this mint julep! It truly is a beautiful cocktail!

  22. This drink is absolutely amazing! I will definitely try it this weekend!

  23. YES, please!!! This looks fantastic!!

  24. I have some friends that will love this drink!

  25. This looks so refreshing! Great Summer drink!

  26. What a fun drink to celebrate the derby….or making it through the week, lol! Looks fantastic!