6 Refreshing Mint Julep Recipes for the Kentucky Derby

How Will You Take Your Julep?

The Kentucky Derby takes place the first week of May and the one drink that is on everyone's mind is the Mint Julep. It is a fantastic drink that has been around since (according to David Wondrich's Imbibe!) the Revolutionary War, though it wasn't always made with bourbon.

Today's Mint Julep is a simple mix of bourbon whiskey, sugar, and fresh mint and it is a fantastic base from which a number of other cocktails can be built. The recipes below show off some of those new...MORE interpretations and have a diverse mix of flavors.

There is one thing that you will need to create each of these cocktails, a good muddler. This is an essential tool that should be in every bar and it is vital to releasing the aromatics from your mint and other ingredients in the initial smash. It can also be used to create crushed ice, which is essential to many juleps.

Enjoy the race!

  • 01 of 06
    Mint Julep
    Claire Cohen

    What you need: bourbon, sugar, mint

    The classic recipe for a Mint Julep is really very easy to create and you will enjoy its refreshing taste. Don't forget the crushed ice and, if you're into recreating the true julep experience, pick up a silver julep cup. 

  • 02 of 06
    Woodford Reserve's 2017 Mint Julep Recipe - The Official Cocktail of the Kentucky Derby
    Woodford Reserve Bourbon Whiskey

    What you need: Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Pimm's, elderflower cordial, simple syrup, Earl Grey bitters

    Every year Woodford Reserve releases a special Mint Julep recipe created by some of today's best mixologists. In 2017, we see a simple rendition that has a British twist and it certainly is a lot of fun.

  • 03 of 06
    Bulleit Bourbon's Ginger Julep '68 Fastback Recipe
    Donna Alberico/Stockbyte/Getty Images

    What you need: ginger-infused Bulleit Bourbon, brown sugar, ginger, soda

    For this recipe, we skip the mint and opt for ginger instead. The first round of ginger comes in the bourbon infusion and the second in the muddle. It's a unique twist that is certainly different, just give yourself about two days for the infusion. 

  • 04 of 06
    White Peach Julep Cocktail Recipe
    James And James / Stockbyte / Getty Images

    What you need: Maker's Mark Bourbon, peach liqueur, white peach mint, peach bitters

    It's time to get peachy and though white peaches are not always available, this is a recipe to keep in mind for when they are. The julep's sugar is replaced with a peach liqueur and the peach bitters are the perfect finishing touch. 

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
  • 05 of 06
    Whiskey Smash Cocktail
    Dana Hoff / Photographer's Choice RF / Getty Images

    What you need: bourbon, simple syrup, lemon, spearmint

    As classic as the Mint Julep, the Whiskey Smash is nearly the same, though it brings lemon into the mix and typically skips the crushed ice. It's refreshing, semi-tart, and another simple adaptation that make a great option for race day. 

  • 06 of 06
    Royal Combier's Royal Smash Cocktail
    Andrew Unangst/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

    What you need: Royal Combier Orange Liqueur, lemon, mint

    We'll toss in one last non-whiskey drink as an option and it's quite fun and very easy. The lemon makes it more of a Whiskey Smash as well, though you will find that the citrus and mint are the perfect complement to this great orange liqueur.