Mint Julep

The mint julep is a classic cocktail that holds a special status as one of the quintessential summer classics.

Food + Drink Cocktail of the Week Brian Webb

This article was published on August 7th, 2020

Few cocktails are as synonymous with the phrase ‘ southern comfort’ as the mint julep, a classic that dates back centuries yet still holds special status as one of the quintessential summer classics that comes with a distinctive look and history. 

The Origins of the Mint Julep

Dating back to the late 1700s, the mint julep made its presence among Virginia’s upperclass citizens when it was prescribed to soothe aching stomachs and assist patients who had difficulty swallowing. But it soon made its way into farmer’s coffee cups as a pick-me-up before tackling the fields early in the morning. From Virginia, the bourbon cocktail headed due west to Kentucky, where it was formerly made with rum and brandy. Fast forward a century or so, and the mint julep that dominates the scene now is a mixture of bourbon, sugar, water, and mint – the official drink of the Kentucky Derby since 1938. Not only is the mint julep associated with horse racing’s most elite event, but it is also revered in music through Ray Charles, who reached the top of the R&B charts with the song ‘One Mint Julep’.

The Proper Mint Julep

Fittingly, Kentucky bourbon became the de facto spirit in the cocktail and connoisseurs insist that a proper mint julep should only be made with bourbon whiskey. With Bourbon County the birthplace of bourbon whiskey, the connection between the state of Kentucky and the mint julep remains strong. Pewter julep cups are the calling card of the cocktail and the crushed ice inside creates a frost on the outside that creates the signature look of the drink. 

  • 3 ounces of bourbon 
  • 5 mint leaves 
  • 1 teaspoons of sugar 

Take a pewter cup, then muddle mint and sugar to the bottom and then pack cup with cracked ice. Next, add bourbon, stir, and then add more ice. Garnish with fresh mint and enjoy. 

The mint julep is the perfect classic cocktail that is not only refreshing, but easy to make and quite the status symbol as far as drinks go. Drink responsibly and enjoy one (or two or more) during the summer!


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