10 Mint Julep Recipes for the Kentucky Derby

Refreshing Cocktails and Sweet Treats

The Kentucky Derby takes place the first week of May and the one drink that is on everyone's mind is the mint julep. It is a fantastic drink that has been around since the Revolutionary War, according to David Wondrich's book, "Imbibe!," though it wasn't always made with bourbon.

Today's mint julep is a simple mix of bourbon whiskey, sugar, and fresh mint and it is a fantastic base from which a number of other cocktails can be built. These recipes show off some of those new interpretations and have a diverse mix of flavors. There are even a couple of delicious treats inspired by the famous cocktail.

The one thing you need to create any of these drinks is a good muddler. This is an essential tool that should be in every bar and it is vital to releasing the aromatics from your mint and other ingredients in the initial smash. It can also be used to create crushed ice, which is essential to many juleps.

  • 01 of 10

    The Classic Mint Julep

    Mint Julep
    Claire Cohen

    The classic recipe for a mint julep is very easy to create and you will enjoy its refreshing taste. It is a simple mix of your favorite bourbon poured over muddled mint and sugar. Don't forget the crushed ice.

    For an authentic Kentucky Derby experience, pick up a silver julep cup. It's a small touch that adds elegance to the occasion and ensures your julep stays frosty cold.

  • 02 of 10

    Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby Mint Julep

    Woodford Reserve's 2017 Mint Julep Recipe - The Official Cocktail of the Kentucky Derby
    Woodford Reserve Bourbon Whiskey

    Woodford Reserve is an impressive bourbon and they often debut a new mint julep recipe for the Kentucky Derby. They get quite creative and explore the limits of what is possible in this classic cocktail.

    One of the more unique Woodford Reserve mint julep recipes puts a British spin on the drink. It pairs the American-made bourbon with Pimm's and elderflower cordial. Finish it up with Earl Grey bitters and you have a delightful drink.

  • 03 of 10

    White Peach Julep

    White Peach Julep Cocktail Recipe
    James And James / Stockbyte / Getty Images

    It's time to get peachy and, though white peaches are not always available, any peach will do for this recipe. The bourbon of choice here is that ultra smooth Maker's Mark, which has just enough sweetness to perfectly complement the fruit.

    The white peach julep recipe is quite fun and a simple twist on the original. The julep's sugar is replaced with a peach liqueur and the peach bitters are the perfect finishing touch. 

  • 04 of 10

    The Ginger Julep ’68 Fastback

    Bulleit Bourbon's Ginger Julep '68 Fastback Recipe
    Donna Alberico/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    Bulleit Bourbon is rather bold and will certainly not get lost in any julep. It gets even more daring when you infuse the snappy spice of fresh ginger into the whiskey.

    For the ginger julep '68 fastback recipe, the mint is left out entirely. Instead, ginger is muddled to ramp up the ginger flavor and it pairs perfectly with brown sugar. It's a unique twist, just give yourself about two days for the infusion. 

    Continue to 5 of 10 below.
  • 05 of 10

    Jerry Thomas' Whiskey Smash

    Whiskey Smash Cocktail
    Dana Hoff / Photographer's Choice RF / Getty Images

    As classic as the mint julep, the whiskey smash is nearly the same drink. It dates back to at least the 1880s and is one of the most refreshing smash drinks you can mix up.

    This classic whiskey recipe brings lemon into the mix. This gives it a semi-tart background that is fascinating against the cool taste of fresh spearmint. It typically skips the crushed ice and makes a great option for race day. 

  • 06 of 10

    Brandy Smash

    Classic Brandy Smash Cocktail
    Donna Alberico/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    Though whiskey is essential to a mint julep, it's not the spirit of choice for everyone. If brandy is more your style, break with Derby Day tradition and mix up this classic drink.

    The brandy smash is very much like a julep. It begins with a muddle of mint, sugar, and a splash of club soda. Add a shot of your favorite brandy, fill the glass with ice, and enjoy. If you prefer a good gin, pour genever and you have a gin smash.

  • 07 of 10

    Eye Candy

    Touche Miami's Eye Candy Gin Cocktail Recipe
    Touche Restaurant Miami

    Using the gin smash as inspiration, for a gin drink that will surely tantalize your taste buds, give the eye candy a try. This modern drink will create quite the buzz at your Derby watching party and it's fun to mix up.

    The recipe is filled with fresh flavors and is perfect for the spring season. It combines the popular Bombay Sapphire Gin with St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur and bring fresh ginger root into the minty muddle.

  • 08 of 10

    Combier Royal Smash

    Royal Combier's Royal Smash Cocktail
    Andrew Unangst/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

    Let's toss in one last non-whiskey drink as an option and it's quite fun and very easy. The Combier royal smash features the delightfully sweet flavor of Royal Combier, an orange liqueur that can easily become a new staple in your bar.

    The lemon in this recipe makes it more of a whiskey smash. Yet, you will find that the citrus and mint are the perfect complements to the liqueur.

    Continue to 9 of 10 below.
  • 09 of 10

    Peach Julep Ice Pop

    Peach Julep Popsicles with Bourbon Whiskey
    Katie Cawood/Moment/Getty Images

    A fun treat that every adult at your Derby party will enjoy, these peach julep ice pops are just as fun to make. The recipe combines fresh mint with peach juice, and the bourbon of your choice. To give them an even mintier flavor, you can sprinkle fresh mint on the boozy treats before they freeze.

  • 10 of 10

    Mint Julep Cake

    Kentucky Derby Mint Julep Cake
    Peggy Trowbridge Filippone

    When it comes to dessert for the Kentucky Derby, few will beat a homemade mint julep cake. It has everything that makes the cocktail great, including a bourbon butter sauce and a white chip mint frosting. It's the perfect way to celebrate the end of the day.