If you are looking for a cocktail that is pure summer in a glass, you’ll enjoy celebrating National Mint Julep Day – honored each year on May 30.
A Mint Julep is a drink that is mentioned in the movie Gone with the Wind, and is considered a Southern Drink. It is sugary and minty and brings thoughts of the Kentucky Derby to mind. It’s only fitting that it has a National Day Devoted to it!
National days of the year are a fun way to celebrate odd and unusual foods, animals and items that you come into contact with. Be sure to check out my National Day Guide for more fun days to celebrate.
What is a Mint Julep?
A mint julep is made with three flavors: fresh mint, sugar and whiskey – traditionally Bourbon Whiskey. Often recipes also call for seltzer water or filtered water for a longer drink.
The cocktail is minty and cooling with a bit of sweetness and just enough whisky to make you forget the summer heat.
One legend has it that the mint julep became a drink in America when a man who was searching for water near the Mississippi to add to his bourbon saw mint growing wild and decided to drop a few leaves into his drink.
What kind of sugar is best for a Mint Julep?
Traditional mint julep recipes all call for some form of sugar, but that can vary from recipe to recipe. I have seen ingredient lists with cube sugar, some with granulated sugar, and others call for turbinado sugar or powdered sugar.
Some omit the sugar and ask you to use simple syrup instead.
And if that were not enough of a choice, there is even a product called Mint Julep Sugar! So, which to choose?
Cocktail experts seem to agree that super fine sugar is the best. The main reason for their choice seems to be that granulated sugar tears up the mint leaves and simple syrup doesn’t add enough texture.
Super fine sugar is simply granulated sugar that is ground more finely. If you only have granulated sugar at home, you can make your own super fine sugar in a food processor if you want the finest sugar for your mint julep.
Fun Facts about Mint Julep
Brush up on your knowledge of this summer time drink with these fun facts.
- The word julep refers to a syrupy drink used along with medicine.
- The name Mint Julep comes from a Persian word “gulab” and an Arab word “julab”. Together the two words mean rosewater, which is fascinating, because Mint Juleps don’t contain roses as an ingredient.
- 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.
- 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.
- Contrary to popular opinion, mint juleps were not served on the verandas of big plantation houses. Instead, the drink was popular in the south with city drinkers.
- A paragraph from Gone with the Wind seems to indicate that Charlotte O’Hara like the scent of Mint Juleps:
His breath in her face was strong with Bourbon whisky mingled with the faint fragrance of mint. Accompanying him also were the smells of chewing tobacco, well-oiled leather and horses—a combination of odors that she always associated with her father and instinctively liked in other men.
How to observe National Mint Julep Day
There are lots of ways to celebrate National Mint Julep Day. Here are a few ideas to help honor this day.
- Invite your friends over for Mint Juleps.
- Watch the Movie Mint Julep with James Gandolfini.
- Read the Book Mint Juleps with Teddy Roosevelt: The complete history of Presidential Drinking.
- Try one of the variations of Mint Julep drinks in the recipe list below.
- Put on your bikini (especially on National Bikini Day!) and head out to the pool with a refreshing Mint Julep cocktail.
- Use the hashtag #NationalMintJulepDay to spread the word about the day on social media. Here is a tweet to get you started:
Mint Julep Variations
Enjoy the classic taste of Mint Juleps with other flavors for a new cocktail sensation:
- Add a Southern twist to the Kentucky Derby version with a blackberry mint Julep.
- This simple fruity version of the classic cocktail is simply irresistible. Try a strawberry mint julep.
- The blackberry lemon mint julep is a fragrant and refreshing variation on the traditional drink.
- Get ready for derby days with a Hibiscus honey mint julep.
- A rhubarb mint julep gives a tangy taste to the traditional cocktail.
More National Days This month
Be sure to also check out these other drink inspired National Days:
- National Beverage Day
- National Cosmopolitan Day
- National Irish Coffee Day
- National Mimosa Day
- National Martini Day
- National Pina Colada Day
There are close to 2000 National Days in the year and over 150 of them are celebrated in May. To see them all, have a look at this post to discover more about the National Days in May, as well as the May Printable Calendar of National Days.
Is food your thing? Each day of the month has a food or drink associated with it, too. You’ll find all the May Food Holidays here.
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- 6 fresh mint leaves
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of superfine sugar (you can grind your own granulated sugar if you don't have superfine)
- 2 1/2 ounces of good quality Bourbon whiskey
- Seltzer water
- Place the mint leaves in a glass and top with the superfine sugar.
- Muddle the two ingredients together until they begin to break down.
- Add a splash of seltzer water.
- Fill the glass with ice and add in the bourbon.
- Add another splash of the seltzer water and stir.
- Garnish with a sprig of mint and serve immediately.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 119Total Fat: 1gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 24mgCarbohydrates: 12gFiber: 5gSugar: 6gProtein: 2g
Nutritional information is approximate due to natural variation in ingredients and the cook-at-home nature of our meals.