For Derby Day and beyond, the Classic Mint Julep recipe is a southern cocktail that’s simple and refreshing. Made with Kentucky bourbon, mint, sugar, water and crushed ice, this easy drink is a must at summer parties.

Mint julep cocktail in a glass julep cup with mint and crushed ice.

Mint Julep

It’s almost here…..with all it’s epic fanfare and Lilly Pulitzer clad spectators…..the Kentucky Derby. And, once again, I’m home….on my couch….with a bag of tortilla chips perched to my right and a bowl of guac on my lap.

One day, I’ll be there too with a icy cold Mint Julep in my hand and all my money riding on the underdog. Until then, this Classic Mint Julep recipe will have to do. It’s a good thing I’ve had tons of practice making these because for non-bourbon lovers…I’ve made this simple cocktail even more tasty with a few variations over the years.

Now all of you can also couch spectate for the fastest horse race ever while enjoying the very BEST Mint Julep recipe in your very own home. In your sweaty gym clothes or in your PJ’s….or in your own giant fascinator and garden party dress.

Four Roses Bourbon bottle with Mint Juleps in glass julep cups.

What is a Mint Julep?

The Mint Julep has a loooooong history and can be traced back to the middle east but let’s just fast forward a bit. It’s now a staple in the American south and a must have cocktail at the Kentucky Derby. A bourbon based libation, it’s traditionally served in a highball glass or a silver julep cup. 

Classic Mint Julep in a glass julep cup.

How To Make a Mint Julep

The Mint Julep cocktail is really simple to make with a few ingredients, although I share a few easy variations below. 

  1. Place a few mint leaves in the bottom of your glass and top with simple syrup or caster sugar (superfine sugar).
  2. Using a muddler, gently muddle the leaves in the bottom of the glass.
  3. Top with the bourbon and then fill the glass with ice.
  4. Add the water to the glass and garnish with mint.
  5. Serve immediately.

How simple is that? Faster than placing your bet at the race, right? I can never decide which horse deserves my hard earned dollar. And I always lose so….I should just save my money for more Mint Juleps. 

Classic Mint Julep in a glass julep cup.

What kind of mint is used in a Mint Julep?

Traditionally, the Classic Mint Julep at the Kentucky Derby is made with spearmint, which is always my mint of choice. You can use whatever mint that is readily available to you. And feel free to mix things up and try other herbs….I have made one with basil, accidentally, once and it wasn’t awful. At all.

Serving Suggestions

All Mint Julep cocktails are served on the rocks….over ice. But to be sure your cocktail is the very BEST Mint Julep and true to tradition, be sure to use crushed or shaved ice. And mound the ice high in the glass, almost like an adult snow cone. Actually, it’s exactly like an adult snow cone now that I think about it.

Three mint juleps in a row on a blue background.


First of all, this recipe for the BEST Mint Julep is a bit different because I use seltzer instead of flat water. But I like to add a few twists and turns to make my drink a little more interesting.

Here are a few ways to put a fresh spin on your cocktail:

  • Flavored seltzers go incredibly well in this recipe….my favorites are orange or VANILLA!
  • Add fruit like blueberries or raspberries to the bottom with the mint before muddling to add a fresh fruity taste.
  • Switch out the mint for basil or thyme or lavender….I know, gasp!
  • Skip the sugar and use caramel sauce for a deeper, richer flavor.
Mint Julep in a glass julep cup with a bottle of Four Roses Bourbon in the background.

Want even more easy Kentucky Derby party ideas? Try these favorites:

Not having a Derby party but just here for the booze? Here are my other favorite cocktails for parties all year long.

More Easy Cocktail Recipes

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Mint julep cocktail in a glass julep cup with mint and crushed ice.

Get the Recipe: The Very Best Mint Julep Recipe

Super easy to make, this classic Mint Julep recipe is ready in seconds. The best summer cocktail.
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  • 5-10 mint leaves
  • 1 tsp simple syrup, or superfine sugar
  • 2 1/2 ounces kentucky bourbon
  • crushed ice
  • seltzer water


  • Place the mint leaves in the bottom of a glass and top with simple syrup or sugar.
  • Using a muddler, crush the leaves until they begin to break down.
  • Add the bourbon to the glass and stir.
  • Fill the glass with ice and top with the seltzer water.
  • Garnish with mint and serve immediately.


YouTube video
Calories: 186kcal, Carbohydrates: 5g, Protein: 0g, Fat: 0g, Saturated Fat: 0g, Cholesterol: 0mg, Sodium: 6mg, Fiber: 0g, Sugar: 5g, Vitamin A: 215IU, Vitamin C: 1.6mg, Calcium: 12mg, Iron: 0.5mg