Traditional Mint Julep Recipe with a Lemonade Twist

Are you planning to watch the Kentucky Derby?? It’s right around the corner and I have a delicious traditional mint julep recipe with a lemonade twist that is perfect for the occasion.

Did you know the Mint Julep is the iconic signature drink of the Kentucky Derby?

Whether you’re just watching the race or hosting a Kentucky Derby party, this refreshing cocktail is sure to be a crowd pleaser and one of your favorite cocktails.

mint julep cocktail in silver julep cup with mint sprig garnish on white platter with lemon slice and mint sprig

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I have to be honest, I am not typically a fan of bourbon.

Sometimes my husband drinks a bourbon cocktail, like an Old Fashioned, and the smell of it is fabulous!

However, when I have tried them, they are just a little strong for me.

In honor of my dinner club theme being the Kentucky Derby this month, I decided to experiment with the well known signature cocktail.

I started thinking of ways to tone down the strong flavor of the bourbon that I was opposed to.

Since mint is an essential ingredient in the classic cocktail I made a mint simple syrup instead of using the traditional simple syrup.

Then lemon flavor came to mind. I thought it would be a great compliment to the bourbon and mint flavors.

I have to tell you I was smitten after the first sip!

The lemonade cube melting into the bourbon and partnered with the mild hint of mint from the simple syrup was exactly what I needed to become a fan of this iconic cocktail.

So, without further ado, let me share a traditional mint julep recipe with a lemonade twist! My variation of the classic mint julep recipe. 

things you might not know about the Mint Julep cocktail

mint julep cocktail in silver julep cup with mint sprig garnish on white platter with lemon slice and mint sprig

The mint julep became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby horse race during the 1930’s, when the Churchill Downs racetrack started serving it in souvenir cups.

Roughly 120,000 mint juleps are served during the Kentucky Derby event that is traditionally held the first Saturday of May. 

The mint julep ties together two of Kentucky’s most well-known industries: horse racing and bourbon.

During the Kentucky Derby in 2022, special limited edition versions of the cocktail featuring gold and silver julep cups were sold for $2,500 as part of The Woodford Reserve Mint Julep charity program.

The concept behind the silver julep cup is the metal keeps the cocktail cold longer than glass.

ingredients for mint julep with a lemonade twist

Ingredients for mint julep kentucky bourbon mint simple syrup lemonade ice cubes julep cup

2 1/2 ounces Kentucky Bourbon
1/2 ounce mint simple syrup
1-2 lemonade cubes
fresh mint leaves for muddling and garnish – if you don’t grow your own mint, you can usually find small containers of mint in the produce section of your grocery store

how to make mint simple syrup

Add 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water to a saucepan, place over medium heat and stir until sugar is completely dissolved.

Remove from heat and add 3-4 mint sprigs and steep for 30 minutes.

Strain liquid and remove mint leaves and store in glass container in the refrigerator.

The mint simple syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month.

recipe for homemade lemonade

Add 1 cup simple syrup, 1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice and 6 cups water to a pitcher and stir.

lemonade ice cubes

Pour homemade lemonade into ice cube trays and freeze.

You can use traditional ice cube trays or any decorative ice cube tray you choose.

I like to add a slice of lemon to each cube for a decorative touch. Cut lemon into thin slices and cut each slice in half.

You can also use store bought lemonade if you are short on time or just don’t want to make homemade lemonade.

Of course, the fresh homemade lemonade is the best, but certainly store bought will work.

other uses for lemonade cubes

Lemonade cubes are delicious in iced tea.

Have you heard of an Arnold Palmer?? It is a combination of half iced tea and half lemonade.

This is my version of the popular drink. Just drop a few lemonade cubes into your iced tea for a refreshing addition.

Drop a lemonade cube into your glass and top with prosecco. As the lemonade cube melts into the prosecco if offers a delicious and refreshing flavor.

The lemonade cube is also wonderful in a vodka drink. Place a lemonade cube into a cocktail glass, add a shot of vodka and top with a sparkling water like Topo Chico for a light and refreshing cocktail that is perfect for your spring and summer gatherings.

directions for creating a mint julep with a lemonade twist

Start by muddling a few mint sprigs in the bottom of your julep cup to release the mint oils. If you don’t have a cocktail muddler, the handle of a wooden spoon will work just fine. 

You can certainly use any type of cocktail glass, but there is just something about that little pewter cup that makes a mint julep even more special.

Add a frozen lemonade cube to your glass.

Pour 1/2 ounces of mint simple syrup and 2 1/2 ounces of bourbon over the lemonade cube.

Garnish with a fresh mint sprig.

As the lemonade cube melts into your cocktail it offers a subtle hint of lemon to a traditional mint julep cocktail.

Enjoy!!

mint julep cocktail in silver julep cup with mint sprig garnish on white platter with lemon slice and mint sprig
Print

Traditional Mint Julep Recipe with a Lemonade Twist

The Kentucky Derby is right around the corner and I have a delicious traditional mint julep recipe with a lemonade twist that is perfect for the occasion.
Course Drinks
Cuisine American
Keyword cocktail, drink recipe, mint julep
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Servings 1 serving
Cost 5

Ingredients

Traditional Mint Julep with a Lemonade Twist

  • 2 1/2 ounces Kentucky Bourbon
  • 1/2 ounce mint simple syrup
  • 1-2 cubes lemonade
  • fresh mint leaves for muddling and garnish

Mint Simple Syrup

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 3-4 sprigs fresh mint

Homemade Lemonade

  • 1 cup simple syrup
  • 1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 6 cups water

Instructions

Mint Julep with a Lemonade Twist

  • Start by muddling a few mint sprigs in the bottom of your glass.
  • Add a frozen lemonade cube to your glass.
  • Pour 1/2 ounce of mint simple syrup and 2 1/2 ounces of bourbon over the lemonade cube.
  • Garnish with a fresh mint sprig.

Mint Simple Syrup

  • Add 1 cup sugar and 1 cup water to a saucepan, place over medium heat and stir until sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Remove from the heat and add 3-4 mint sprigs and steep for 30 minutes.
  • Strain liquid and remove mint leaves and store in a glass container in the refrigerator.
  • The mint simple syrup will keep in the refrigerator for up to a month.

Homemade Lemonade

  • Add 1 cup simple syrup, 1 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice and 6 cups water to a pitcher and stir.

Notes

To make lemonade ice cubes, pour lemonade into ice cube trays and freeze.
You can use homemade lemonade or store bought. 

want to grow your own mint?

Growing mint is so easy!

Mint will grow in most soils and in full sun to partial shade.

Mint is a perennial so it comes back every year. Depending on your climate, it will typically die back in the winter, but comes back with a vengeance in the spring.

The more you harvest the mint, the more it grows!

There are lots of varieties of mint plants, but the most popular are spearmint and peppermint.

One thing to note about mint is it is a vigorous grower and can be invasive.

Because mint tends to take over, you can plant mint in a pot and or in bottomless bucket buried into the ground, to keep the roots contained.

creative ideas and variations for a traditional mint julep

Like any cocktail there are countless variations of the Mint Julep.

You can use regular simple syrup instead of mint simple syrup if you choose.

Store bought lemonade will work for the ice cubes if you are short on time or just don’t want to make homemade lemonade.

Making limeade cubes with fresh lime juice in place of the lemon juice would be a great variation.

The mint julep is traditionally served with lots of crushed ice instead of an ice cube, so that is certainly another option for the cocktail.

You can add a lemon twist to the rim of the cocktail for an added garnish.

2 traditional mint julep cocktails with a lemonade twist in silver julep cup with mint sprig garnish on white platter with lemon slice and mint sprig

This mint julep lemonade cocktail has simple ingredients and is the prefect drink for a warm day.

I hope you enjoyed this traditional mint julep recipe with a lemonade twist.

I would love to hear if you try one for your own derby day gathering!

blessings,

michele signature
mint julep cocktail in silver julep cup with mint sprig garnish on white platter with lemon slice and mint sprig

8 Comments

  1. Wendy McMonigle says:

    These look delicious, Michele. I love the fresh mint and lemon ice cubes ideas.

    1. Thank you Wendy! They are pretty tasty!

    1. Thank you Cindy! Have a wonderful weekend!

  2. I’m not a huge bourbon girl either, but this looks so refreshing. I can’t wait to try it! Pinned!

    1. Oh good! I hope you like it Jen!

    1. Thank you Stacy! It was so refreshing and delicious!

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