Mint Julep Variations

As we move deeper into spring, it's undoubtedly becoming the season of the Mint Julep. This classic bourbon cocktail is boozy, a touch sweet, loaded with fresh mint, and so elegant. If there's one cocktail to master this spring and summer, this is it!

My goal with this post is to cover the basics first, then move on to some fun variations. I hope this will give you some ideas for your own variations too!


Let's start at the beginning: the classic Mint Julep. It's easy to make, so fresh, and is a perfect way to transition bourbon to the warmer months. You can vary the amount of bourbon as well as the sweetness, so you have a lot of control to cater to different tastes. Here's how to do it.

Thoughts About Ingredients
(These are just suggestions, since rogue is more fun than recipe)
  • Bourbon (~2.5 oz per drink)
  • Sugar. I like my drinks to be very non-sweet so I just use a tad, but do what works for you. Something like half a teaspoon to a full teaspoon is probably standard. Raw, coarse-grained Demerara sugar is my preference.
  • 6-8 fresh mint leaves, plus additional for garnish
Thoughts About Method
(These are just suggestions, be creative and make it yours)
  1. In a cocktail stirring glass, muddle the sugar and fresh mint.
  2. Add a few ice cubes.
  3. Add the bourbon, stir, and let it sit on the ice for a minute to chill.
  4. Serve over additional ice, with a few more mint leaves for garnish. Note that crushed ice is the classic southern approach, but I much prefer regular ice so that the drink doesn't get watered down.
I find that mint juleps are super versatile. They go great with anything on the grill, so they're a perfect cocktail to serve at an outdoor get-together. The mint also helps them work nicely with dishes that have fresh herbs, like summer salads. I'd happily pair a mint julep with this Watermelon, Snap Pea, and Feta Salad, this Roasted Corn, Strawberry, and Avocado Salad, or of course this Mint Julep Quinoa Salad.


Bourbon is obviously the key ingredient here, so don't skimp! This isn't the place for bottom-shelf bourbon, since there are no juices, bitters, or liqueurs to soften it. Although likewise, this isn't necessarily the place for your rare sipping bourbon either. My usual preference is a solid middle shelf bourbon like Knob Creek, Bulleit, or Buffalo Trace.

Now, let's check out some fun variations!


Vermont Mint Julep


Why sweeten with flavorless sugar when you can sweeten with maple syrup? We almost always go this route at home, and it's actually easier because the maple syrup is already liquid. So for the Vermont Mint Julep, just use a dash of maple syrup in place of the sugar; start small, you can always add more later. Bonus points for garnishing with a maple sugar candy! And if you're feeling like a high-roller, use Whistlepig (which is actually a rye, but it's one of Vermont's most well-known and delightful distilled products).


Strawberry Mint Julep


This version is fun, easy, and super summery. Just muddle some strawberries in at the beginning, strain to remove the pulp, and garnish with a couple fresh strawberries. I designed this cocktail in partnership with Bespoke Post and am in love with all these home bar goodies! This is all from their "Julep" box that includes these gorgeous silver-plated glasses, matching straws, and a killer muddler (check out the spikes on it, it's on the right side of the photo).


Honey Mint Julep


Like I mentioned above, why sweeten with something flavorless? I adore the combination of honey and mint, and it's just so summery! For this version, use honey in place of the sugar. Start with less than you think you need, since honey is actually sweeter than maple syrup. Garnish with a piece of honeycomb for extra flair and for a delightful, drippy treat. Although decidedly non-traditional, I like to make these with a honey-based distilled product, such as this gorgeous, aged honey spirit from Domeloz. Thank you, bees!


Cherry Mint Julep


This may be my favorite of all! Make your julep as you usually would, but add in a quarter ounce of Luxardo cherry liqueur (you'll see many other Luxardo creations on this blog, I'm so in love with the stuff). Back off the sweetener a bit because the Luxardo has some sweetness to it. Garnish with a cherry, or even better a homemade bourbon-infused cherry.


Peach Mint Julep


Peaches are, of course, an iconic southern fruit, so they make such perfect sense in a julep. Omit the sweetener, and instead use half an ounce of peach schnapps (it's both sweet and peachy, so no need to double-sweeten). Garnish with a few peach slices.

***

One final thought. If you have mint growing in your yard, you know that it can easily get out of control and take over everything. Drinking mint juleps is our preferred way to keep our mint in check, it's much more peaceful than trying to pull it out by the roots. So cheers to summer, and cheers to doing your duty to protect the yard from mint.

Please share your creations so I can see how you've interpreted the concept! Tag "The Rogue Brussel Sprout" on Facebook or hashtag #theroguebrusselsprout on Instagram.

Disclosure: This post is in part sponsored by Bespoke Post. However, all opinions and thoughts are my own. Thank you for supporting the brands that keep The Rogue Brussel Sprout running. 

The combination of bourbon and herbs is so interesting! If you love a mint julep, check out this Thyme Julep for fall.

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