Mint Julep Cocktail

As the Kentucky Derby approaches there is one cocktail that is essential to have in your repertoire, The Mint Julep. Whether at the track or on the veranda watching the sun set, this refreshing, simple and elegant cocktail should be sipped and savored.


leaves from 4-5 mint sprigs

1/2 oz simple syrup

2 1/2 oz Bourbon


In a mint julep cup or heavy bottom glass, gently muddle mint and simple syrup.

Add crushed ice and Bourbon, stir.

Top with ice and a sprig of mint.


Thomas 1 May 2008
1:15 pm


Sprinkling sugar on the top was a complete surprise to me.  Mint Julep methods vary, but I’ve never heard of that. 

Any particular reason why you chose Maker’s Mark?  I’d choose a bourbon made with rye for that zing.

Thomas 1 May 2008
1:30 pm

I’ve wanted a Lewis Bag for a long time.  In acknowledgement of your sponsor, I looked at first for one.  Could not find it, there.  An impulse purchase lost!

Kimberly Patton-Bragg 2 May 2008
7:19 am

Thoroughly enjoyed this episode. At our restaurant we muddle the beejeezus out of the mint for our juleps and mojitos. I couldn’t agree with you more - gentler is better. Love the touch of the powdered sugar on top. Very elegant - warmed my Southern heart.

Robert Hess 2 May 2008
10:19 am


correct, KegWorks doesn’t carry the Lewis bag (yet?). You can however get them from my good friend Tony Abou Ganim over at his site here:

As for Maker’s Mark… I personally prefer bourbon in my Mint Juleps, perhaps it’s just because that is the way I got used to them.


Flinkman 2 May 2008
11:49 am

I like to enjoy my Mint Julep with an old r&b song called One Mint Julep from The Clovers. :)

Adam 3 May 2008
2:36 pm

Check out this $1000 Mint Julep from the Kentucky Derby

Berkana 5 May 2008
1:41 am

I’m confused about something in this episode:

The simple syrup squeeze bottle is labeled “rich syrup,” which you described in a previous episode as being a 2:1 volumetric ratio of sugar to water, whereas in an even earlier episode, you described “simple syrup” as being a 1:1 volumetric ratio of sugar to water. But in the video itself, and in the sidebar, the recipe calls for “simple syrup”. Which one is the correct one, and which one is the mistake?

Using rich syrup would make the drink have nearly twice as much sugar, wouldn’t it?  Surely that would throw off the balance of the drink, wouldn’t it?

Robert Hess 5 May 2008
6:30 am

Simple Syrup. Such a simple product which can cause so much confusion… Personally, I always use a 2:1 ratio simple syrup. I just feel it works better.

Cocktail recipes are always open to variation and interpretation (within certain limits), and how much sweetener you choose to use is one of the ways you can participate in the process and create a product that reflects not just your tastes, but some of the character of the products that you use as well. Using the same measure of simple syrup or rich simple syrup will have a “slight” change in the end result of the drink, but not to the point of doubling it’s percieved sweetness.

I would recommend trying the recipe as listed (either with 1:1 or 2:1 syrup), and determining for yourself if you think it is too sweet, or not sweet enough, note that the type/brand of whiskey you use will have an effect here, as will the quality and specific amount of mint that you choose to use. In fact, I’d probably be more concerned with exactly how the mint was being used than with what type of sugar syrup was being used.


Thomas 5 May 2008
7:17 am

I must apologize.  I just learned that “Professor” Jerry Thomas himself called for a sprinkling of sugar on the leafy garnish of a Mint Julep! 

Wondrich’s book /Imibe!/ is a wonderful read. 

And to clarify my earlier comment, Maker’s Mark bourbon has no rye, which makes it smooth and sweet.  But I tend to enjoy a traditional bourbon with rye for the spicy complement to the mint.

Will 5 May 2008
11:23 am

I would love to get a true mint julep glass and I looked on your sponsors site and could not find one can you point me in the right direction

Robert Hess 5 May 2008
11:33 am

Will, Kegworks “does” have a Mint Julep cup, but they are currently out of stock. The way their product database works, is that if they don’t have a product in stock, it doesn’t even show up on a search… but you can see some details in their blog here:

Another source for Mint Julep cups which I regularly use, is the “Silver Super Store” ( which as luck would have it is located in the Seattle area (down in Tukwilla). They have several different types, and pretty good prices.


Will 5 May 2008
1:50 pm

Well thank you very much Robert for your quick response and insight I appreciate greatly, just found the series and I love it keep up the good work

charlie 9 May 2008
9:34 am

I love your videos, but what happened to your first few, which used to be at the bottom of the screen? My friends are always asking me to bartend at their parties; since I’m a guest at their place and off duty, I like to send them here to pick up some pointers. The “stocking your bar” tips were especially great but now they’re gone.

Robert Hess 9 May 2008
9:56 am

I guess now that we have enough shows posted to hit the “limit” that was set for the home page, we’ll have to think about how best to give links to the full archive.

Note that on the left hand side of each shows page, right below the recipe, is a “Next Episode” and “Previous Episode” link, so you can always go to the bottom most episode and just keep clicking on “Previous Episode” to get to earlier shows.


charlie 9 May 2008
7:53 pm

Thanks for the quick response. It looks like they’re all back on the home page for now, but I’ll keep the “previous episodes link” route in mind for the future.

When will you do an episode about the Sazerac? I had my first one recently, and I’ve been dreaming about them ever since. I wish I could find Peychaud’s in NYC. It must be around here somewhere.

Kimberly Patton-Bragg 10 May 2008
8:50 pm

If you’re looking for Peychaud’s in NYC, Dean & Deluca carries them, so does LeNell"s in Red Hook ( pain in the #%$! to get there but the best liquor store I’ve ever been to ). I’ve also heard that Pegu Club sells them as well as Regan’s orange bitters, which I feel is another must for any home or professional bar. Just Peychaud’s and soda after a night of debauchery is as delicious as it is soothing.

Al Nelson 10 May 2008
11:24 pm

I really enjoyed this recipe/episode.  I especially liked seeing you bust out the “Louis” (sp?) bag for the ice. I was surprised that you would go this far for crushed ice for the Julep, yet not do so for your Mai Tai recipe. Regardless…Please Keep em coming Mr. Hess!

Robert Hess 11 May 2008
7:29 am

Al, glad you like it. I am using crushed ice for the Mint Julep, because I think it really does make a difference with this drink, ESPECIALLY if you are serving it in a silver julep cup. It’s just part of the “ritual”.

Trader Vic’s does make their Mai Tai with crushed ice, but since I don’t feel that it specifically plays an important role in the drink, I usually choose not to go that far.

I’m trying to focus on making drinks as “approachable” as possible, and choosing how “fiddly” I get with making/serving them. I’ll go to slight extremes when I feel it is necessary, and when that’s the way I commonly make the drink for myself at home as well. Many of these drinks can be bumped up a notch or two by getting fancier or more particular with the preparation or presentation, but I think that might make them see a little more unapproachable to folks.

But as always, I recommend that people don’t just take my methodology as “the” way to make the drink, but instead to do a little research on their own, and see what other ways that the drink might be made, and to see which one they feel works best for them. I only hope I am providing a great starting point from which this adventure can start.


Chris Milligan 16 Apr 2009
6:19 am

Good to see tyhis episode again.  I was just working on a Mint Julep post as well.

One thing I’d like to add is there is a so called “proper” way to hold the julep cup to keep it cold longer.  Place your thumb on the lip of the cup, and your four other fingers on the base (most julep cups have a smalllip on the base as well).  This minimizes contact and body heat being transferred through the highly conductive metal.

Cheers, Y’all

Tony Harion - Mixing Bar - Brazil 16 Apr 2009
7:39 am

Nice show Robert!
I was wondering when the julep would come! Great Drink! One of favorites!

If anyone what

blair frodelius 16 Apr 2009
8:24 am


Just ordered some julep cups from the silver store in Seattle.  As you said, great prices.  I’ve yet to find any as reasonable elsewhere.

As an aside, I also enjoy the Georgia Mint Julep from Irvin S. Cobb’s Own Recipe Book.  Instead of bourbon, it calls for 2 oz. of cognac and 1 oz. of peach brandy.  Absolutely smashing!



Tom Anderson 4 May 2009
1:48 pm

Well we just hosted our first Kentucky Derby party and you, Robert, were the star! The mint juleps were a smash hit! Although I couldn’t get a Lewis bag in time, I used two ziplocs and some towels to dry off the ice. Also, to get everyone in the mood for Juleps we played this video on the big screen. Your background information at the beginning was perfect!

Thanks Robert!

Robert Hess 4 May 2009
2:01 pm

Wow! Sounds like that must have been a lot of fun!

For you, and others who may not have a “Lewis Bag” handy… something which I have heard works, but have never tried myself, is to use a clean pillow case. :->... or so goes the stories I’ve heard from others who were in their hotel room and desparate for a Mint Julep…

Or just rolling the ice up in a clean tea towel. The goal here is to have a covering which will hold up to the pounding, and at the same time wick away any moisture. So any good heavy (non-fuzzy, lint-free) cloth will work.

blair frodelius 4 May 2009
2:20 pm

I was asked to make a few mint juleps for a small party on Saturday.  The host handed me a bottle of bourbon, a bunch of mint and a bottle of simple syrup.  Sounds like I’m all set to go, right?  Only one problem.  Not a single bar tool to be had.  So, I eyeballed the measurements, used the wooden end of a spatula to muddle, and crushed the ice in a bag made out of a piece of cheesecloth and held together with staples!  The tool I used to crush the ice was the bottom of a heavy glass beer mug.  (Do not try this at home).

It worked, and everyone was happy, but it made me realize that not everyone has the tools that I take for granted.


Good Spirits News

Jeff Dorenbush 20 Aug 2009
4:11 pm

I’ve never had the chance to try this cocktail, nor have I ever seen it made until now. After watching this I am definitely interested in having one of these. Looks quite refreshing.

Berkana 9 Dec 2009
11:06 pm

I found the video clip where Chris McMillan recites his Mint Julep poem:

Robert Hess 10 Dec 2009
4:02 am

And you can access all of Chris’s vidoes here in one place:

Mike McSorley 1 Jan 2010
9:08 pm

Great durable professional quality lewis bag available on

Josh Durr 28 Apr 2010
6:12 am

Did a recent morning show a few weeks ago were we showcased both a caipirinha and the mint julep

Emily Hirsch 12 May 2010
3:51 pm

Sounds delicious! I happen to have a jungle of mint taking over my backyard right now. I usually use Maker’s Mark. I read the comment on top about making the mint julep with rye, and while I think that a real rye whiskey might be too harsh, I am going to try Bulleit next time since I happen to have a bottle sitting around. It’s a bourbon with a fairly high rye content but still very smooth.

I have a set of pewter julep cups. They are beautiful and affordable. Silver would be nice, but very expensive!

BigSmooth 9 Sep 2010
10:48 am

I have read recipes where they prepare mint extract by wringing the mint with bourbon in a soft cloth.  Do you feel this would overly bruise the mint?  I like that your recipe is simple and clear—as all of your recipes are—but was intriguied with this possible addition.

Sam Ramirez 17 Dec 2010
7:17 am

what size and type glass do we use for classic cocktails like the Manhatten or Farmers cocktail.

Benjamin D. 3 May 2011
12:13 pm

Does anyone have any pointers for keeping mint fresh in dry climates? I’ve tried putting it with cut stems in a glass of water, both in and out of the refrigerator. I’ve tried wrapping them in lightly damp paper towels and storing it in the fridge. I’ve tried a plastic bag with holes. Nothing seems to keep mint for more than 2 or (with picking out the wilted bits) 3 days in Arizona or Mexico. Quite frustrating!

Chris Milligan 3 May 2011
12:57 pm

I live in a dry climate at 7000 feet above sea level and this is what we do…..

De-stem the mint and place in a stor-n-por or other sealable container with a lightly damped bev nap in the bottom.  Keep in the fridge.  I have had mint last up to a week this way

blair frodelius 3 May 2011
4:07 pm


I usually put the whole sprig of mint in a small sandwich sized zip-lock baggie with about a 1/4 tsp. of water and keep on the top shelf of the refrigerator.  At least for me, this keeps mint, basil and most herbs fresh for 5-8 days.



Benjamin D. 27 May 2011
4:45 pm

Chris and Blair,

A thousand thank yous for your great tips! I tried a Tupperware container (though I’m sure a zip-lock bag would work equally as well) and actually cut a corner off of an unused sponge, dampened it and stuck in a bunch of herbabuena with cut stems (the Latin-American, especially Cuban variety of mint). I threw the whole thing in the fridge and a week later it was still perfect—it looked even better than the store’s. After two weeks in the fridge, it was still usable! Unbelievable! I’ve never been able to get that kind of shelf life out of fresh mint. Thank you!

Ginty 9 Jul 2011
6:50 am

Don’t know if this will help,...I don’t live in a dry climate, but my girlfriend keeps the fresh herbs in a plastic bag but inflates it with air before she seals it.  That works well for us but again, I’m in a humid area.

Alan 27 Jul 2011
6:38 pm

Has anyone an opinion on washing mint before use? I buy supermarket bagged mint and the packaging suggests a rinse or wash prior to use. I find this can have a tendency to “wake up” some of the mint and release flavour.

I shall have to look in to storing the leaves in a container with a napkin.

jellydonut 11 Aug 2011
4:17 pm

If you shake the mint up, even that causes it to release its fragrance. Slapping it, as Chris McMillian does with his mint sprig garnish, will emit even more.

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