Jenn here, gearing up for “the most exciting two minutes in sports” this coming weekend! Yes, it’s that time of year again — when ladies and gentlemen gather at Churchill Downs to place their bets on the finest horses in the country. I still haven’t been to the Kentucky Derby (definitely on my “bucket list”), but I usually manage to put on a great hat and find a fun party to attend here in town. Turns out that one of the best Derby Day traditions is one you can stir up for yourself right at home: the classic Kentucky mint julep. Traditionally served in a chilled silver cup, this simple bourbon cocktail packs a lot of punch. This bold and refreshing drink got me thinking about the winning horse from last year… his name was “I’ll Have Another.” We recommend going heavy on the crushed ice, which will slightly dilute the drink as it melts.

Classic Kentucky Mint Julep


  • 2.5 ounces bourbon
  • 25–30 mint leaves
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • ice cubes
  • crushed ice

For the mint simple syrup:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 large bunch mint leaves


1. First, you’ll make the simple syrup. Combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Place the bunch of mint leaves in an old mason jar (or other heatproof container) and pour the syrup over the leaves. Place the jar in the fridge and let the leaves steep in the syrup for at least one hour. Strain the leaves from the liquid and set the syrup aside.

2. Place your 25–30 mint leaves in a cocktail shaker and pour in the 2.5 ounces of bourbon as well as one ounce of your simple syrup. Top with a few ice cubes and stir. Fill your chilled silver cup with ice about halfway. Strain the liquid from the cocktail shaker into the cup. Pack crushed iced on top of the liquid to the top of the glass. Garnish the drink with a sprig of mint leaves and a straw.

3. Place your bets!

*This recipe was inspired by “Mint Juleps” via The Crepes of Wrath and “Stir Up a Classic Mint Julep” via Southern Living.

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Comments (56)
  1. 1
    Tiffany @ Savor Home May 1, 2013 at 1:26 pm

    That looks so good! Beautiful styling, too!

    • Jennifer Rose Smith May 1, 2013 at 1:51 pm

      Thank you so much, Tiffany!

  2. 2
    thejunkdrunk May 1, 2013 at 1:28 pm

    Looks delicious! I’ll be stirring some up as well with my mint and blackberry infused bourbon that’s soaking away in my fridge.
    Bourbon infused with blackberries and mint

    • Jennifer Rose Smith May 1, 2013 at 1:52 pm

      Oh wow. That looks heavenly. Thanks for sharing your recipe — I’ll have to try that out soon!

  3. 3
    Bri | Mamages May 1, 2013 at 2:03 pm

    oh this looks delicious! thanks for this recipe. this is the first time since high school that i won’t be at the derby so i’ll have to whip some of these up to make me feel a home 🙂

    • Jennifer Rose Smith May 1, 2013 at 2:14 pm

      Ah! So jealous that you’ve been — and multiple times, at that! Here’s to enjoying a good strong julep from home.

      • Bri | Mamages May 1, 2013 at 7:53 pm

        yes! it’s so fun. i hope you get to go some time!

  4. 4
    Ashley @ Any Lovely Thing May 1, 2013 at 2:05 pm

    I made Julep’s the other week after my first trip to the horse tracks. Though we went to Southern California’s Santa Anita Park and not Churchill Downs it was still such a treat! I’ve left links to both posts if you’re interested.


    • Jennifer Rose Smith May 1, 2013 at 2:18 pm

      Love your photos, Ashley! Thanks so much for sharing. Great hat, and Santa Anita’s Park looks fabulous! I’ll have to give your recipe a try as well. I’m interested in trying a version of this drink that includes powdered sugar.

  5. 5
    Zoë May 1, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    I’ve never had a mint julep but I think you’ve sold me and I’ll have to whip some up this weekend! Sounds like the most perfect hot weather drink 🙂

    • Jennifer Rose Smith May 1, 2013 at 4:54 pm

      Yes! The perfect drink for hot weather — crushed ice is key.

  6. 6
    Lindsay {Everistta} May 1, 2013 at 3:01 pm

    Those look yummy! I have to say, I do love this time of year. It’s a fun 2 minutes!

    • Jennifer Rose Smith May 1, 2013 at 4:55 pm

      So much fun! I always bet on the horse with the best name. This year it’s “Fear the Kitten”! Go, Kitten, Go!

  7. 7
    angelica May 1, 2013 at 4:06 pm

    Where are the mint julep cups from?

  8. 8
    diane smith May 1, 2013 at 7:47 pm

    I will have to try your recipe. Surely looks refreshing! I especially liked the straws…where
    can you find them? D

  9. 9
    Violet May 2, 2013 at 12:03 am

    By the way, the mint syrup is delicious in iced tea. I keep a big pot of mint on my patio so that I can have mint syrup in the fridge at all times!

    • Jennifer Rose Smith May 2, 2013 at 12:19 am

      Mmm! Sounds divine… Good idea. Thanks for sharing! I’ll have to try that this summer.

  10. 10
    thesheratongunter May 2, 2013 at 8:04 pm

    Where did you get those glasses/goblets/silvercups?! What would you call them? hahah

  11. 11
    leaner by the lake May 3, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    This looks incredible! And love your photography. Saving this and making this weekend! Happy to have found your blog from Bubbly In Brooklyn!

    • Jennifer Rose Smith May 3, 2013 at 1:51 pm

      Thank you so much! Have fun watching the race!

  12. 12
    Morten William James March 3, 2014 at 10:27 am

    Fantastic pictures, and the recipe is very good as well, though I find the amount of sugar a little too high. I would usually go for just half an ounce of sugar syrup since the crushed ice already helps sweetening the bourbon simply by diluting it!

  13. 13
    Christina L Frederick (Christina Leigh Events) April 28, 2015 at 11:13 am

    Thank you so much for your post! I was able to use one of your images in my inspiration today and hope you enjoy the post as much as I do! I always love a good min julep and can’t wait to try my hand at this recipe!

    xo Christina

  14. 14
    Debbie April 30, 2015 at 9:21 am

    How many does this recipe serve?

  15. 15
    Courtney June 10, 2015 at 12:03 am

    What a classy presentation! May I ask where you got the silver cups and tray?

    • Jennifer Rose Smith June 26, 2015 at 10:59 am

      Thank you, Courtney! The silver cups and tray were graciously lent to us by my mother. The silver tray is an old family heirloom and the silver cups can be purchased many places online like Silver Queen She had hers monogrammed which is always a fun Southern touch. Bottoms up!

  16. 16
    Lauren June 26, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Hi! Im a wedding planner in California and I would love to use one of these images for the wedding blog that I write. Would that be alright with you? I’ll include the direct link to this page underneath the photo : )

    • Jennifer Rose Smith June 26, 2015 at 10:56 am

      Hi Lauren! And thank you for asking — yes, we would be honored for you to include our image on your site. Please be sure and include a link to underneath the photo to direct readers to the full recipe! Cheers, jenn