Mint Julep Recipe: A Cocktail with History and Tradition

The mint julep is a typical alcoholic cocktail of the southern United States. Peppermint liqueur is traditionally made with four ingredients mint, bourbon sugar and water. It can also be prepared with rosemary, basil, peppermint and other aromatic herbs. Traditionally green mint or peppermint is used in the southern states, especially in Kentucky.

In the use of sugar and mint it looks like mojito. When preparing the mint julep, a bouquet of fresh mint is used mainly as a topping, to introduce the flavor and aroma through the nose. If mint leaves are used in the preparation, they should be crushed very lightly.

The proper preparation of this cocktail is often discussed, as the recipe can change considerably from one barista to another. In one of them, the mint julep can be considered a distant member of the family of drinks called smashes of which the smash of Brandy and mojito are other examples, in which fresh mint and other ingredients are stirred or crushed in the preparation to flavor the resulting beverage. This process also releases essential oils and juices into the blend, enhancing the flavor of the ingredients.

Traditionally mint juleps are usually served in silver or pewter cups that are held only by the base and the upper edges, allowing frost to form outside the cup. The traditional way of placing the hand may have arisen as a way to reduce the heat transferred from the hand to the cup. The Mint Juleps currently are served mainly in vessels tumblers, Collins or highball with straw.

The origins of mint julep are diffuse and may never be known. Its first appearance in a written medium was given in Travels of Four Years and a Half in the United States of America, a book by John Davis, published in London in 1803, where it is described as a gulp of leaf brandy of peppermint that the inhabitants of Virginia took in the mornings. However, Davis did not specify whether bourbon was the used liquor.

The jump to fame occurred when the mint julepe became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby in 1938. During the Derby and in the events that were held in the previous days were served between 80,000 and 120,000 cocktails of mint julepes. Acceptance was immediate. Mint julep arose in the southern United States, probably during the eighteenth century. Kentucky Senator Henry Clay brought the drink to Washington DC, to the Round Robin Bar of the famous Hotel Willard during his stay in the city.

The Americans not only took juleps based on bourbon in the nineteenth century, but also others based on gin. However, recently juleps made from bourbon have eclipsed these. As a film reference it can be stated that in the 1964 film Goldfinger of the saga of 007, the villain Auric Goldfinger offers and shares a julepe with James Bond. Kremlin Colonel is made with vodka instead of bourbon, distinguishing the fresh mint flavor of the similar vodka stinger that uses mint cream.

There is some controversy about two fundamental aspects of this drink. Some argue that it should be prepared with gin, and although with the passage of time this idea was discarded giving way to bourbon and some of its derivatives, there are still those who continue with this idea.

The other question concerns mint and how it is used in the drink. There are those who maintain that mint leaves should be crushed to almost disintegrate, others that not only have to be crushed but also cut into small pieces similar to the mojito and finally there are those who maintain that the leaves simply should be squeezed delicately to release their essence, flavor and aroma in the drink.

The truth is that to prepare a perfect mint julep should be used bourbon, where possible from Kentucky and the mint leaves should be used in the latter way. Let's see below how it is done properly and what things are needed.

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking time: 10 mins
Servings: 2 servings
Calories per serving: 155 calories per 100 gms


6 oz bourbon
2 oz syrup or simple sugar syrup
15 mint leaves
Crushed ice

Recipe Method:

In a stainless steel glass place about 8 leaves of mint and add the syrup. Then carefully crush the leaves to give off their essence and give flavor and aroma to the preparation, being careful not to crush or tear them apart.

Add the bourbon and complete the glass with crushed ice until it overflows. Stir with a spoon until 80% of the ice absorbs all the mixture and there is room in the glass to add even more ice. Add crushed ice again by filling the beaker.

Decorate with the rest of the mint leaves and place one or two small size straws. The small straws will make that when drinking the swallow the person approaches his nose considerably to the leaves and feels the fresh aroma of mint with depth.