Food blog

Raise a Toast to Memorial Day with the Irresistible Mint Julep Cocktail

Why you should make the Mint Julep your go-to Memorial Day cocktail

The History of the Mint Julep

The Mint Julep is a classic bourbon cocktail with deep roots in American history. Its association with the Kentucky Derby and the celebration of Memorial Day make it a popular choice for many cocktail enthusiasts. The origins of the mint julep can be traced back to the year 900, with references to medicinal juleps. It is believed that the drink may have evolved from another cocktail called the Sling.

The Mint Julep and the Kentucky Derby

The Mint Julep has become synonymous with the Kentucky Derby, one of the most prestigious horse races in the world. The drink’s association with the race dates back to 1937, when Churchill Downs, home of the Kentucky Derby, began offering the Mint Julep in a commemorative cup. Since then, sipping a Mint Julep has become a cherished tradition for racegoers, often accompanied by the donning of extravagant hats and the excitement of the race.

Celebrate National Mint Julep Day

If you enjoy sipping mint juleps, you’ll be happy to know that there’s an entire day dedicated to this refreshing cocktail. National Mint Julep Day is May 30, which coincides with Memorial Day. It’s the perfect opportunity to indulge in this iconic drink and celebrate the holiday in style. The celebration even has its own hashtag, #MintJulepDay, so enthusiasts can share their love of the cocktail on social media.

How to make the perfect Mint Julep

To make a classic Mint Julep, you’ll need a few key ingredients. Recipe developer Michelle McGlinn recommends using spearmint leaves, simple syrup, bitters and bourbon. The combination of these ingredients creates a refreshing and aromatic cocktail perfect for warm summer days. For an authentic experience, consider serving your Mint Julep in silver cups, which are traditionally used for this drink.

Discover the Best Mint Juleps in America

If you’re planning on traveling this Memorial Day weekend, you can take your Mint Julep experience to the next level by trying some of the best versions of the cocktail across the country. Southern Living, in partnership with Yelp, has compiled a list of the best Mint Juleps you can find from coast to coast. Whether you’re in the South or the West, there’s a delicious Mint Julep waiting for you to discover and enjoy.

Bottom Line

More than just a cocktail, the Mint Julep is a symbol of tradition and celebration. Whether you’re attending the Kentucky Derby, celebrating National Mint Julep Day or simply enjoying a relaxing Memorial Day weekend, the Mint Julep is the perfect companion. Its refreshing flavors and rich history make it a favorite of cocktail enthusiasts across the United States. So gather your ingredients, mix up a classic Mint Julep, and raise a glass to the joyous occasions this iconic cocktail represents. Cheers!


What is the significance of the Mint Julep on Memorial Day?

The Mint Julep has become closely associated with Memorial Day because of its refreshing and celebratory nature. It’s a perfect drink for outdoor gatherings and a symbol of relaxation and enjoyment during the holiday.

Can I make a nonalcoholic version of the Mint Julep?

Absolutely! You can make a delicious non-alcoholic Mint Julep by replacing the bourbon with a non-alcoholic alternative or using a mix of fresh fruit juices. That way, everyone can enjoy the flavors of this classic cocktail.

Are there other variations of the Mint Julep that I can try?

While the classic Mint Julep recipe is widely popular, there are variations you can explore. Some popular twists include adding fruit like strawberries or peaches, incorporating herbs like basil or lavender, or experimenting with different types of bitters for unique flavor profiles.

Can I make a big batch of mint juleps for a Memorial Day party?

Absolutely! To make a large batch, simply multiply the measurements of the ingredients in the recipe. You can mix the mint, simple syrup, and bitters together in a pitcher and pour the bourbon into individual glasses as you serve. Remember to garnish each glass with a fresh mint leaf for an attractive presentation.

How do I properly muddle the mint leaves for a Mint Julep?

Muddling is an essential step in making a Mint Julep. To properly muddle the mint leaves, gently press them into the bottom of the glass with a muddler or the back of a spoon. This helps release the mint’s essential oils, which enhance the flavor of the cocktail. Avoid over-muddling, which can result in a bitter taste.

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