Toast to the Derby: Making the Perfect Mint Julep

Simple. Delicious. Refreshing. These three words describe the age-old Derby drink known as the Mint Julep. On race-weekend in May, nearly 120,000 of these cocktails are served at Churchill Downs Racetrack, and have been for more than a century. Even if you aren’t there in person, you can still immerse yourself in the race-day tradition by serving some at your own Kentucky Derby Party. Making the perfect Mint Julep is easy. Here’s how.


Start with the finest ingredients to finish with the best mint juleps. Rather than using white sugar, use turbinado sugar to pack more flavor into your drink. The granules contain more natural molasses.

  • 2 cups turbinado sugar
  • 1 cups water
  • Crushed ice
  • Fresh mint sprigs
  • Bourbon of choice, but preferably Old Forester Kentucky Bourbon for more authenticity


Bring sugar and water to a boil, and continue to boil for five minutes. Remove from heat. The mixture should have the consistency of syrup. Cool and refrigerate in a covered container overnight with six sprigs of fresh mint.

Cover the bottom of your pre-chilled silver julep cups with a layer or two of mint leaves (to taste). Pour one tablespoon of syrup over the mint and stir. Fill the cups with crushed ice and add two ounces of bourbon. Rapidly stir the cocktail with a spoon to frost the cup. Garnish with fresh mint if desired.

Raise your cups high when “My Old Kentucky Home” plays prior to the race. Drink. Enjoy. Repeat.

If you have any syrup left after your party, keep it refrigerated. It stays good for about a week and makes a delicious sweetener for iced tea.

What other signature Southern cocktails do you serve at your Kentucky Derby Party? Share your Black-eyed Susan, Bourbon Smash or other race-day recipes below.
Amy Johnson

is UDR’s budding social media guru, and has been instrumental in constructing the brand’s content strategy. After graduating from University of Colorado- Boulder, she started working for UDR as a marketing intern. When she isn’t perusing the web for the perfect pins and Facebook posts, she can be found hiking somewhere with her dog Rory.

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