How To Make a Proper Mint Julep

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All that talk about cocktail gear a few days ago started to make my mouth water for a juicy cocktail or two to toast the end of summer.

Now, it’s been raining in Boston for weeks, and my mint patch is absolutely thriving. This means one thing: It’s the perfect time for mint juleps.

My dear friend the Lady Otter reminded me of this fabulous drink when she asked me to plant some mint for her at the beginning of the summer. She brought me two tiny Kentucky Colonel Mint plants, the traditional mint used in this cocktail. In the last few months, they’ve taken over the front yard:

So, what exactly is a julep?
A julep is a cocktail with liquor and sugar, served with ice and garnished with mint. So, while most folks are familiar with the mint julep, this means that the ubiquitous mojito that we all started drinking with abandon a few years ago is also a julep, made with rum.

Juleps are said to have originated in the South and are drunk at the Kentucky Derby. They’re traditionally served in silver or pewter cups, or more popularly in a collins glass.

Mint juleps are refreshing and dangerously easy to drink. Here’s how to make one. (Or two, or three…)

A Proper Mint Julep

10 mint leaves
2 sugar cubes
2 oz. bourbon
crushed ice

Put the mint and sugar into a collins glass. Muddle them together until the sugar cubes are completely crushed and the mint is bruised. (Muddling releases the flavor and glorious aroma of the mint leaves.)

If you don’t have an actual muddler, use the back of a bar spoon or the end of a wooden spoon. We actually use the end of a small rolling pin.

Fill the glass halfway with crushed ice. Add the bourbon and stir with a spoon to mix well.

Add more crushed ice til the glass is full. Garnish with a few sprigs of mint and enjoy.

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Jessie Cross is a cookbook author and creator of The Hungry Mouse, a monster online food blog w/500+ recipes. When she's not shopping for cheese or baking pies, Jessie works as an advertising copywriter in Boston. She lives in Salem, Massachusetts with her husband and two small, fluffy wolves.


  1. Of course the Otter feels compelled to put on her historian hat, and point out that the word "julep" (French in origin) has its root in the Arabic/Persian "julab". A julab is, as far as I can gather, a rosewater drink, although other variations may be known. I got to spend a fair amount of my Summer Vacation making julabs in various flavors for the fine folks at Your Inner Vagabond. I think my favorite was their "Silk Road" flavor, which has saffron and a bunch of other delightful things. Num.
      • Hi Trixie! When in doubt, the Mouse runs to her big dictionary. The word "julep" comes from the Arabic "julāb," from Persian "gulāb," from "gul" (rose) + "āb" (water). Probably why you were seeing recipes for both. Cheers! +Jessie
  2. This picture and its accompanying post really made me smile. I had an absolutely perfect mint julep about this time of year with mint that was growing in a garden about three hours Northwest of yours. Your recipe also seems much less sloppy than the one we used. You ARE right, though. These are almost too easy to drink. Thanks for posting this!
  3. I love the mint julep and used some mind you provided the other day for one! Every Derby Day I indulge in the deliciousness of that cocktail. Even posted how to for large pitchers of juleps recently
  4. Thanks! Our front yard is absolutely overrun with mint at this point. It's a fairly small space (and very contained, as mint is so invasive when you put it in the ground), so that's OK. At some point, I should scale the recipe to pitcher size. Because it seems that we rarely ever have just one. :D If I do, I'll definitely post it up.
  5. To TheSalemInsider: For some reason your comment got caught out in the ether and showed up after I posted the last reply. Thanks SO much for the pitcher recipe! It's greatly appreciated. :D