Recipe of the day: Mint Julep

The Kentucky Derby is tomorrow, and whether you’re a fan of the races or just want an excuse to have a nice cocktail, there really is no better time to have a mint julep than on the greatest day of horse racing. This no-frills recipe stays true to the cocktail’s southern roots. All you need is bourbon, simple syrup, mint, and crushed ice.

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Why a mint julep? Of course, the drink can be made all year round, but – like a margarita for Cinco de Mayo – mint juleps are most closely associated with Derby Day. The cocktail is rumored to have evolved from a Middle Eastern drink called julab, which is made from water and rose petals. At some point the rose petals were swapped for mint, a bit of bourbon was thrown in and what we currently know as mint julep was born.

The cocktail itself is very easy to make, but one ingredient that you will need is simple syrup. You can use regular sugar instead, but it will take longer to dissolve as the cocktail will be cold. If you don’t have a simple syrup on hand, you can make it at home with just two ingredients: sugar and water. Put half a cup of granulated sugar and half a cup of water in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir the mixture until the sugar dissolves. Once the simple syrup has cooled, it’s ready to add to your cocktail.

Also, when making a mint julep, it’s important that you use crushed ice instead of cubed. Mint juleps are pretty cute by nature. The ice will dilute and subtly soften the drink until you get a fragrant, minty mix of ingredients. If you’re planning on celebrating the event but aren’t a bourbon fan, check out some of our best cocktails for the Kentucky Derby Beyond the Mint Julep.

ingredients

  • 8 mint leaves

  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup

  • 2 1/2 ounces of bourbon

  • Crushed ice

  • Mint sprig, garnish

Directions

Step 1: In a stone glass, mix 8 mint leaves with 1/2 ounce of simple syrup.

Step 2: Add 2 1/2 ounces of bourbon and a handful of crushed ice, stir well. Completely fill the glass with crushed ice.

Step 3: Garnish with a sprig of mint.

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