Let’s start with a question: What’s your favorite cocktail? I’m a bourbon girl, so nine times out of ten, I opt for a bourbon cocktail. While I always love a good Old Fashioned, it’s hard to beat a frosty, classic mint julep this time of year.
Did y’all know Mint Julep Month is a thing? A whole month in honor of my favorite cocktail sounds like a pretty fabulous idea. Last year I didn’t find out about Mint Julep Month until it was nearly over, so I was sure to mark my calendar for it this year. Garden & Gun did a fabulous piece on mint juleps and shared four fabulous recipes of their own.
Side note: Is there such thing as Old Fashioned Month? I could get behind that, too.
For Mint Julep Month, I want to share some fun, seasonal variations on the classic Southern cocktail. First up: strawberry mint julep! My farmer’s market here in Chattanooga has had some gorgeous strawberries the last couple of weeks. Naturally, now that my favorite fruit is in season, I can’t wait to use them in lots of different ways. I’m down to the last jar of my strawberry jam from last year, so that’s definitely on the list to make again.
Oh, and eat them. Lots of them. Also, May is National Strawberry Month, so it’s fitting to make a strawberry mint julep. Anyway, back to drinking.
The mint julep isn’t a difficult cocktail in theory. But the execution is key. I’ve had my fair share of mint juleps around Chattanooga, and I have to say, STIR does them the best, down to the frosty cup and shaved ice. They’re pricey, but completely worth it. If I can’t be at the Kentucky Derby, then sipping one at STIR is the next best thing.
Related: the Kentucky Derby is on my bucket list, solely so I can get all gussied up with a big ol’ hat and drink mint juleps all day. Who wants to go with me?
To make mint juleps at home, you’ll need a julep cup, a muddler, a bar spoon (or long teaspoon) and a jigger (or something to measure your bourbon and simple syrup with). Most bartender sets will have both of those items. I looked for proper julep cups forever before I finally found a set at TJ Maxx for $12.99.
The traditional mint julep calls for a sugar cube, but it’s not a sin to use simple syrup. Making your own simple syrup is pretty easy: 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat until the sugar is dissolved.
If you want to learn more about the mint julep and see a more in-depth tutorial, check out this video from The Educated Barfly.
P.S. if you’re making juleps for a large group, you can batch them! Mix 1 cup bourbon and 3/4 cup mint simple syrup in your bottle of choice, and fill with club soda. Toss some mint leaves and fruit pieces in there for additional flavor, if desired.
Strawberry Mint Julep
A fun seasonal twist on a classic Southern cocktail.
- 2 oz bourbon
- 0.5 oz simple syrup
- 2 strawberries, hulled and halved
- 6-8 mint leaves
- Crushed ice
- Fresh mint to garnish
Add strawberries, mint, and simple syrup to a julep cup, and muddle them together.
Add bourbon, and fill the cup with crushed ice.
Stir gently with a bar spoon (or other long spoon) to combine. Top with more ice as needed.
Garnish with mint and a strawberry.
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