Even if you didn’t attend America’s Greatest Race in Louisville earlier this May, you can still celebrate National Mint Julep Day on May 30 with our twist on homemade versions of this refreshing, minty drink. Hold to tradition by serving it in a silver cup and enjoy with friends outside on the patio just in time for Memorial Day weekend. Big, floppy, fashionable hats are optional!
Known as the official drink at the annual Kentucky Derby horse race held the first Saturday of May, a traditional Mint Julep is made with mint, bourbon, sugar and water. Mint Juleps became a Churchill Downs track staple in 1938, when they sold for 38 cents in a souvenir glass.
The trick to creating the perfect Mint Julep is to start with a strong bourbon. We recommend one that is 90 proof or higher. In this adults-only recipe for Mint Julep Sweet Tea, mint is also an important ingredient for a top-notch beverage. Take a sprig of mint and slap it in the palm of your hand to release the oils, rub the mint on the sides of the glass and then drop it in the bottom. You can also choose to muddle your mint, just be sure not to crush it. If you have too heavy a hand, your Mint Julep will taste grassy instead of minty.
How To Muddle Mint
To ensure success, start by selecting a muddler made with unvarnished wood, metal or plastic (the handle of a rolling pin handle will also work in a pinch). Drop your mint leaves in a glass and with your muddler, press down on the leaves and gently twist several times.
Cucumber Mint Julep with Persian Mint Simple Syrup – Guests of all ages will jockey for a taste of this non-alcoholic Mint Julep inspired beverage. Tart and sweet Persian mint syrup is served over ice and topped with shredded cucumber. Creating your own simple syrup will give you the ultimate smooth beverage – and it’s easier to make than you think. Check out our quick and easy recipe that can also be used for a variety of cocktails, candied fruits, sorbet, snow cones and even popsicles.
Keep it Cool
Among vintage recipes for fizzes, flips and fountain favorites, we rediscovered this trick to making ice cubes more fun in our 1959 cookbook, Homemade Quick ‘n Easy Summer Coolers. Just add a mint leaf, maraschino cherry, or a few strips of orange or lemon rind to partially frozen ice cubes.