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10 Mint Julep Facts to Quench Your Thirst for Cocktail Knowledge

If you’ve ever had a mint julep, you’ll understand why this tasty cocktail is so popular. Learn the mint julep facts below to impress all your friends during your next cocktail party.

What is a Mint Julep and why is it served in a silver cup?

Curious about what’s in a mint julep? You may be surprised to learn that this drink only has three ingredients.

A mint julep is a whiskey based cocktail that is made of fresh mint, sugar and whiskey (usually bourbon) and served over crushed ice. Some mint julep recipes also use seltzer water or filtered water to balance the drink.

Mint juleps are traditionally served in silver cups because they mirror the silver cup trophies jockeys would win during the Kentucky Derby. 

Also, similar to the copper mug which holds Moscow mules, the silver cup for mint juleps keeps the drink iced cold. This may explain part of why they became such a popular summer drink in the American south.

A mint julep sitting on a bar top with a white box filled with black text to the left of it that reads "do you know why mint juleps are served in silver? Learn the answer & more mint julep facts on Always the Holidays.

Fun facts about mint juleps

Brush up on your knowledge of this summer time drink with these fun facts about mint juleps and the history of mint juleps.

  • Before the mint julep, the word julep referred to a medicinal drink made from sugar, herbs, and spices. A spirit was often added to this medicine.
  • The name mint julep comes from a Persian word “gulab” meaning rosewater. Mint juleps don’t contain roses as an ingredient, having lost their floral notes as the drink evolved from a medicine into a cocktail.
  • Mint Julep is the traditional drink of the Kentucky Derby.
  • 7,800 liters of bourbon and 2,250 pounds of fresh local mint are used to make the 120,000 Mint Juleps sold during the Kentucky Derby weekend at Churchill Downs.
  • In the late 1700’s, Mint Juleps were used to treat upset stomachs.
  • Virginian socialites were drinking Mint Juleps at the turn of the next century.
  • The drink was first mentioned in print in 1803 when the US Senator Henry Clay from Kentucky drank a mint julep at the Round Robin Bar in Washington, D.C.
  • There is a national day dedicated to mint juleps on May 30 called National Mint Julep Day.

If you’d like to make your own mint julep, make sure to scroll down to the bottom of this post to get a mint julep recipe.

A mint julep garnished with mint on a silver saucer, in a traditional mint julep silver cup, with another mint julep and fresh mint in the background.

Mint julep facts

Keep learning facts about mint juleps. Some of the ones below might surprise you.

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  • When crushed ice is added to a Mint Julep, the drink becomes known as a Hailstorm Julep! 
  • Mint juleps are often served in silver goblets. This allows frost to form on the outside of the goblets.
  • The sugar used in mint juleps varies from recipe to recipe. Some use sugar cubes, while others use granulated sugar, turbinado sugar or even simple syrup instead. There is even a product called Mint Julep Sugar!
  • Mint juleps aren’t the only cocktail which heavily relies on the use of mint. Mojitos are another refreshingly minty summer cocktail.
  • The drink was popular in the south with city drinkers thanks to its prominence in the Kentucky Derby.
  • Mint juleps have made an appearance in books and movies, like The Great Gatsby, and Gone with the Wind.
  • There are only three mint julep ingredients you need to make this cocktail: bourbon, ice and fresh mint.

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A mint julep in a silver mint julep glass, garnished with a fresh sprig of mint, on a white countertop against a slate grey background with a fresh mint leaf in the foreground of the image, and a cocktail jigger, wooden muddler, and second mint julep cocktail cut off around the borders of the photo.

Yield: 1 mint julep

Traditional Mint Julep Recipe

Traditional Mint Julep Recipe

A traditional mint julep is sweet and minty and invokes thoughts of summer.

This cocktail, which is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby uses bourbon, sugar, and mint.

Print out the mint julep recipe and serve it during your next cocktail party!

Prep Time 5 minutes
Total Time 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 6 fresh mint leaves
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2 1/2 ounces bourbon*
  • Crushed ice

Instructions

  1. Place the mint leaves and sugar cube in a chilled mint julep cup.**
  2. Muddle the two ingredients together until the sugar cube has broken down entirely and the mint has released its oils.
  3. Add in the bourbon.
  4. Fill the cup with crushed ice.***
  5. Stir the drink.
  6. Slap a sprig of mint between your hands to release its fragrance, and garnish with it.
  7. Serve immediately.

Notes

*We recommend using a good quality bourbon. This drink has only three ingredients, and if you use a nice bourbon, you'll end up with a tastier cocktail.

**If you don't have a metal mint julep cup, you can use a rocks glass instead.

***While traditional mint juleps have crushed ice, if you don't have any you can substitute regular ice.

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Nutrition Information:

Yield:

1

Serving Size:

1

Amount Per Serving: Calories: 13Total Fat: 0gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 4mgCarbohydrates: 3gFiber: 1gSugar: 2gProtein: 0g

Nutritional information is approximate due to natural variation in ingredients and the cook-at-home nature of our meals.

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