Recipe for Mint Julep


One of my favorite cocktails is the mint julep. I love chewing on the crushed ice to offset the punch of alcohol from the bourbon and the tingle from the mint leaves as they mix with the ice. It reminds me of an adult snow cone, like the fruity, icy ones I used to get from the ice cream truck as a kid. Substitute lemon soda for the bourbon and you have a nice mocktail that both grown-ups and kids can get behind.


  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 cups loosely packed fresh mint leaves
  • Grated zest and juice of 3 large lemons
  • 12 to 16 ice cubes
  • 10 to 12 ounces (1¼ to 1½ cups) bourbon (or lemon soda for a no-alcohol version)
  • Maple syrup
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons raw sugar, such as Demerara
  1. MAKE THE MINT SYRUP: In a small saucepan, heat 2 cups of water and the granulated sugar over medium heat, stirring, until the sugar dissolves completely, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour the sugar syrup into a bowl. Add 2 cups of the mint leaves and let steep while the sugar syrup cools for about 15 minutes, then strain out the mint leaves (or use a slotted spoon to remove them). Stir in the lemon zest and juice, and refrigerate until completely chilled.
  2. CRUSH THE ICE: The ice for this drink is very important. I like to wrap regular ice cubes in a kitchen towel and crush them with a rolling pin until fairly fine. I fill a bowl with this ice and keep it in the freezer until I’m ready to serve the drinks.
  3. SERVE: Juleps are traditionally served in silver cups, but any fun cup will do. Mix the remaining 1 cup mint leaves into the crushed ice, and fill each julep cup amply with the mint ice, mounding the ice above the rim of the cup. Pour about ½ cup of the chilled mint syrup over the ice in each cup, add 2 to 2½ ounces (4 to 5 tablespoons) of the bourbon, and top with a splash of maple syrup and a sprinkle of the raw sugar for texture.

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