Classic Bourbon Mint Julep

Classic Mint Julep Cocktail

The Spruce Eats/Madhumita Sathishkumar

Prep: 3 mins
Cook: 0 mins
Total: 3 mins
Serving: 1 serving
Yield: 1 cocktail
Nutrition Facts (per serving)
181 Calories
0g Fat
5g Carbs
0g Protein
Show Full Nutrition Label Hide Full Nutrition Label
Nutrition Facts
Servings: 1
Amount per serving
Calories 181
% Daily Value*
Total Fat 0g 0%
Saturated Fat 0g 0%
Cholesterol 0mg 0%
Sodium 3mg 0%
Total Carbohydrate 5g 2%
Dietary Fiber 0g 2%
Total Sugars 5g
Protein 0g
Vitamin C 1mg 4%
Calcium 13mg 1%
Iron 1mg 5%
Potassium 32mg 1%
*The % Daily Value (DV) tells you how much a nutrient in a food serving contributes to a daily diet. 2,000 calories a day is used for general nutrition advice.
(Nutrition information is calculated using an ingredient database and should be considered an estimate.)

The Mint Julep is an iconic bourbon cocktail you definitely don't want to miss. Drinks that are this popular can sometimes seem difficult to make, but this recipe is actually incredibly easy and only requires a few ingredients.

What Ingredients Are in the Mint Julep?

Beyond the bourbon, sugar, and mint, the only other requirement for this drink is crushed ice. Other forms of ice won't create the same effect, so take the time to create a nice mound of crushed ice before mixing this cocktail. Traditionally, Mint Juleps are served in silver or pewter cups and held by the handle or rim so the cup maintains optimum frost. They work just as well in any tall glass.

Where Does the Mint Julep Come From?

The Mint Julep is the traditional drink of the Kentucky Derby, which has helped propel the cocktail's popularity. Tens of thousands of Mint Juleps are served at Churchill Downs in Louisville, and countless more are enjoyed by fans watching the race throughout the country.

Why Are Julep Cups Silver?

The mint julep's signature serving vessel, a silver cup, comes from the drink's context. It is a miniature mimic of the silver cups won by jockeys at the Kentucky Derby. With a balance of sweet, smoky, and herbal flavors, the Mint Julep will indeed make you feel like you're winning at life.


Click Play to See This Kentucky Classic Mint Julep Recipe Come Together

Tips for Making Your Best Mint Julep

  • Gently muddle your mint. The intention is to release the essential oils, not tear the leaves to bits.
  • Making crushed ice without a machine is another use for your muddler: Place ice cubes in a Lewis bag (a cloth bag made specifically for this purpose) or wrap it in a towel and whack it until your cubes become finely crushed ice. (This is a wonderful and safe stress reliever, too.)
  • Once you build the drink, take the time to stir it gently until the glass gets frosty. This should take at least 30 seconds, but the longer you do it, the better.
  • Pour your favorite bourbon. It's best to choose one of the higher-end brands for the simple fact that bourbon is the Julep's only liquid. Though it is sweetened and flavored, the whiskey is primarily what you will taste.
  • Before garnishing with the mint sprig, gently slap it with your hands to release the aromatic oils of the mint.
  • Mint Juleps are good for sipping but also pair nicely with Southern appetizers. Try pairing with pickled shrimp, deviled eggs, and pimiento cheese.

"The Mint Julep is one of the great all-time cocktails. Stiff and thirst-quenching, there's nothing quite like it on a hot day. Use the smallest ice cubes you can. The extra dilution chills the drink way down and takes the edge off the bourbon. This recipe has my ideal ratios, absolutely delicious." —Tom Macy

Classic Bourbon Mint Julep in a copper mug garnished with mint
A Note From Our Recipe Tester


  • 4 to 5 mint sprigs, leaves only

  • 2 sugar cubes, or 1/2 ounce simple syrup

  • 2 1/2 ounces bourbon whiskey

  • Mint sprig, for garnish

Steps to Make It

  1. Gather the ingredients.

    Ingredients to make classic mint julep

    The Spruce Eats/Madhumita Sathishkumar

  2. Place the mint leaves and sugar or simple syrup into a julep cup, collins glass, or double old-fashioned glass. Muddle well to dissolve the sugar and release the oil and aroma of the mint.

    Pour simple syrup into cup.

    The Spruce Eats/Madhumita Sathishkumar

  3. Add the bourbon. Fill the glass with crushed ice and stir well until the glass becomes frosty. Garnish with a mint sprig.

    Stirting ice in mint julep.

    The Spruce Eats/Madhumita Sathishkumar

Recipe Variations

The Mint Julep has been around for so long that it has been adapted countless times. The technique for mixing it has been simplified, and ingredients have been added or substituted to create new variations. While the classic cocktail is fantastic, it's fun to explore all your options.

  • As an alternative to muddling the mint and sugar, you can infuse simple syrup with mint. You can skip right to pouring and stirring, and it's a good way to preserve fresh mint that's starting to go bad.
  • There are also many Mint Julep-inspired recipes to explore. You can enjoy a White Peach Julep or one that features ginger, for instance. Some take a completely different approach and swap the whiskey out for gin or brandy, too.
  • The taste of the Mint Julep is also captured fantastically in a frozen ice pop. It's perfect for the hot days of summer.

How Strong Is a Mint Julep?

The Mint Julep has a pleasant taste, but it includes a long shot of bourbon and little else to knock down its alcohol content. If you make it with an 80-proof whiskey, it should weigh in somewhere around 28 percent ABV (56 proof). The drink will be even stronger with higher proof bourbons. It's best to enjoy this one nice and slow.