Whether you’re celebrating Derby Day or simply looking for a refreshing cocktail, this strawberry mint julep is perfect for the occasion. Made with fresh strawberries and mint leaves, this mint julep has just the right sweetness to balance the bourbon for your perfect patio cocktail.
You know what’s funny? I didn’t used to like bourbon cocktails. Given my various bourbon recipes, like the popular orange-vanilla bean-infused bourbon or my cherry bourbon smash, you probably wouldn’t have guessed it, but it’s true.
Bourbon used to make my face contort. We were not friends. And then it started to change when I tried Bourbon County Brand Stout and instantly fell in love. From there, I started trying other bourbon barrel-aged beers. The style quickly became my favorite, and I thought I had finally developed a taste for bourbon.
Once Derby Day came around, I thought I'd give a mint julep a try. Nope, still not my thing. But I kept drinking my bourbon barrel-aged beers. For whatever reason, I still loved those, but bourbon cocktails weren't doing it for me. But I kept trying. A couple years later, I ordered a blueberry bourbon smash at this great cocktail bar in Denver. In that moment, my love for bourbon cocktails was born, and I never looked back.
If you’re like my former self and find bourbon too strong, adding a little fruit goes a long way in making a smoother drink. That's exactly what the strawberries do in this strawberry mint julep.
Of course, using a high-quality bourbon also helps. I have to wonder if I was just trying terrible bourbon in my younger and dumber years, but regardless, a little fruit still smooths out bourbon with its extra sweetness.
Rather than making a mint julep in a cocktail shaker, it’s generally made in the serving cup. A silver high ball cup is traditional, but an old fashioned glass also works fine. Just be cautious when muddling in a glass. That said, if the glass is delicate, you can always muddle in a cocktail shaker and then pour the muddled concoction into the glass to finish.
We start by muddling together a strawberry, simple syrup and lots of fresh mint leaves. This turns the strawberry into almost a chunky syrup, so we want to really work the strawberry to break it down.
Now we add the bourbon along with a little crushed ice and quickly stir to chill the mixture. From here, we add another scoop of crushed ice and shape the top of the ice into a mound.
Crushed ice is important here. Not only does it chill the strawberry mint julep better but the ice melts and mixes with the cocktail for an extra refreshing sipper. Unlike your old-fashioned, we want some melting action. And, yes, it’s a lot of ice, but that’s how your traditional mint julep is served.
To garnish our strawberry mint julep, we put a bundle of fresh mint into the palm of one hand and then clap our other hand on top of the mint. This releases the oils and gives you the most fragrant garnish.
With all the ice, some prefer to drink this fruity mint julep with a paper or metal straw, but you can also sip without one. Your call. Now sit back and enjoy.
Given that this is a perfect spring and summer cocktail, I like pairing this strawberry mint julep with something light and grilled. Try grilled shrimp kabobs with a green goddess dipping sauce. The caramelization on the shrimp from the grill nicely matches the bourbon, and the mint melds perfectly with the medley of herbs in the green goddess sauce.
Whether you need a cocktail to celebrate Derby Day or just enjoy patio weather with a fun seasonal sipper, I hope you try this strawberry mint julep.
Thirsty for More Bourbon Cocktails?
- Bourbon cherry limeade
- Gingered bourbon-apple cider cocktail
- Cherry-infused bourbon
- Blueberry bourbon smash
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Strawberry Mint Julep
- 8-10 fresh mint leaves
- 1 strawberry halved, top removed
- 1 ounce simple syrup homemade or store-bought (see note)
- 2 ounces bourbon
- Crushed ice
- 1-2 mint sprigs for garnish
- In a high ball or old fashioned glass, muddle the mint leaves, strawberry and simple syrup until the strawberry is well mashed.
- Pour in bourbon. Fill the glass halfway with crushed ice and stir to chill. Add more crushed ice and form a mound on the top of the glass like a snow cone.
- Place the mint leaves for garnish in one palm. Clap your other palm on top of the mint leaves to release their oils and fragrance. Stick the sprigs into the mound of ice. If desired, serve with a straw. Enjoy!
- To make the simple syrup, simmer the 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir frequently to dissolve the sugar. As soon as the sugar dissolves, remove from heat. Allow to cool and store chilled.
- If you prefer a less sweet mint julep, you may want to use only ½ ounce of simple syrup.
- Nutritional information is only an estimate. The accuracy of the nutritional information for any recipe on this site is not guaranteed.