Five Unique Mint Julep Variations to enjoy watching the KY Derby

According to, The Mint Julep has been quenching thirsts since it arrived on the scene in the southern United States in the 18th century. Composed of bourbon, sugar, mint and crushed ice, this refreshing cocktail was liquid air conditioning served in a silver cup. Although the bourbon-spiked Mint Julep is the most well-known version on the cocktail, the julep is actually a category of drinks featuring a spirit served over crushed ice. So, it comes in more varieties than only bourbon and mint, and some of the first juleps were made with cognac and brandy. It became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby in 1939. Here are five different variations of the classic cocktail to enjoy while watching “the most exciting two minutes in sports.”

A sweet tea mint julep is the perfect spin on the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby.

Sweet tea mint julep (

Ingredients: 2 cups water, 1 cup sugar, 5 to 6 mint leaves, 2 family-sized tea bags, 3 cups water, 3/4 to 1 cup bourbon, crushed ice, lemon slices, mint sprigs

Instructions: Bring 2 cups water, sugar, and mint leaves to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Steep for about 5 minutes. Remove tea bags and add 3 cups cold water. Refrigerate until ready to serve. Add bourbon to tea mixture. Fill glasses with crushed ice. Add tea mixture and garnish with lemon and mint. Squeeze lemon into drink if desired.



The Thin Mint Julep is a modern invention from bartender Kristen Struckmeyer that’s perfect for anyone who wants to pair their Girl Scout cookies with whiskey. The Thin Mint Julep is constructed like traditional juleps, and crushed ice is packed generously into the silver mug until the vessel is frosted on the outside. The pièce de résistance is the garnish, a Thin Mint cookie that looks good and provides a tasty snack between sips. This recipe strays from the classic formula, but it’s still recognizable as a julep.

Thin Mint Julep (

Ingredients: 8 to 10 fresh mint leaves, 1/4 ounce simple syrup, 1 1/2 ounces bourbon, 1/2 ounce white creme de cacao, Garnish: mint sprig and a Thin Mint cookie

Steps: Place the mint leaves and simple syrup into a Julep cup and gently muddle. Add the bourbon and white creme de cacao, then pack the cup halfway with crushed ice. Stir until the cup is frosted on the outside. Top with more crushed ice to form a mound. Garnish with a mint sprig and a Thin Mint cookie.

Champagne Julep Cocktail

The Champagne Julep Recipe is a variation of the Mint Julep recipe and is perfect for champagne lovers (

INGREDIENTS: 2 oz bourbon, 6 mint leaves, 1 tsp superfine sugar (or 0.5 oz simple syrup) 4 oz champagne, Garnish: mint sprig, Old-Fashioned Glass

In a julep cup, gently muddle the mint leaves and the sugar or simple syrup (if using sugar, also add a few drops of water to help with dissolution). Fill cup three-quarters of the way with crushed ice. Add bourbon and stir very gently. Add more crushed ice. Add champagne. Top the cup with a dome of crushed ice, garnish with a sprig of mint, and serve.

For a more tropical take on the drinks, try the Pineapple mint julep.

Pineapple Mint Julep (

Ingredients: 2 1/2 ounces bourbon, 1 ounce mint simple syrup, 1 ounce mint pineapple puree, crushed ice, fresh mint leaves

MINT SIMPLE SYRUP: 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 1/3 cup water, 1 bunch of mint leaves

PINEAPPLE MINT PUREE: 3/4 cup fresh pineapple chunks, 2 tablespoons mint simple syrup

INSTRUCTIONS: Combine bourbon, mint simple syrup and mint pineapple puree together and shake or stir well. Pour over crushed iced and serve with extra mint leaves.

MINT SIMPLE SYRUP: Combine sugar, mint and water together in a small saucepan and heat over high heat until boiling, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to low and cook for another minute or so, then set aside to cool completely. Remove mint before using. You can do this ahead of time and store it in the fridge!

PINEAPPLE MINT PUREE: In a food processor or blender, combine pineapple and mint simple syrup until pureed.


 The cherry and mint combination puts a refreshing twist on the julep.

Cherry Mint Julep (

Ingredients: 2 oz bourbon, ¼ oz cherry liqueur, ¼ oz maple liqueur, 8 large mint leaves

5 cherries fresh or frozen, but defrosted. Garnish: mint and frozen cherries

INSTRUCTIONS: Muddle large mint leaves and cherries in the bottom of a julep cup. Add maple liqueur, bourbon and cherry liqueur and give the cocktail a good stir. Fill with crushed ice, stir once or twice and place the mint sprig and straw in the cocktail. Garnish with a skewer full of frozen cherries.


Written by Kathryn Winter


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