There’s nothing like a frosty mint julep on a hot summer (or spring!) day. The cooling taste of fresh spearmint melds with the sweetness and vanilla notes from bourbon, making this drink the perfect refresher as the summer sun sets. This classic American cocktail is imbued with the Southern hospitality it is so often served alongside. Whether you live on the Bourbon Trail or enjoy this charming mint-infused cocktail outside of its regional Southern origins, mint juleps have an undeniable history, tradition and appeal.
History of the Drink: A Southern Classic
Since 1938 the mint julep has been the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, and it is recorded as being consumed as early as 1790. Historically, a “julep” was a medicinal preparation that doctors prescribed for ailments. Like many spirits and cocktails, it appears that the origins of the mint julep are as a tonic or “cure-all.” It wasn’t long before folks caught on and began to enjoy this cocktail for its flavor and refreshment.
Mixologists would classify this drink as a “smash,” which consists of various cocktails in which ingredients are muddled (smashed) on the bottom of the glass to release flavors. Not only is it fun to muddle the mint leaves and experience the release of their intense aroma, it also creates a fresh preparation with a flavor that cannot be duplicated any other way.
Mint Julep Day Is May 30
It’s time to celebrate! Mint juleps are steeped in history as a festive drink and are especially tied to the famed Kentucky Derby. Each year, over 100,000 mint juleps are enjoyed at the Kentucky Derby by race-goers. Missed the run for the roses? No worries: May 30 is National Mint Julep Day, giving everyone the chance to celebrate and enjoy this cocktail.
The Basics: How to Make a Mint Julep
For a drink with so few ingredients, it seems there’s always been a hot debate about the perfect way to make and serve it. At its core, though, the drink remains the same, no matter the regional variation. The quintessential ingredients are:
- Fresh mint leaves
In the classic preparation, fresh mint is muddled with sugar (usually powdered because it dissolves easily) at the bottom of the glass before adding bourbon and ice. A clever mint garnish adds interest and aroma. Spearmint is the Southern standard for this drink, and if you’re lucky, you’ll find the Kentucky Colonel mint variety, which is particularly prized for its large leaves.
Nowadays you might see mint-infused simple syrup substituting for the sugar, the addition of bitters or sparkling water and other clever riffs. No matter what recipe you chose, remember: mint, bourbon, sugar and ice are key!
The Perfect Glass
A great drink deserves a great glass. Our Classico DOF, with its heavy glass bottom and classic styling, will allow you to savor this cocktail in style. Like all Luigi Bormioli products made with SON.hyx, it carries a 25-year guarantee that guards against chipping on the rim, as well as discoloration or cloudiness resulting from washing. (Did we mention they’re lead-free and eco-friendly, too?) Not only will you enjoy great mint juleps in these fine glasses—you’ll enjoy them for years to come!
Raise a Glass
The perfect mint julep is a Southern classic and a quintessential piece of Americana. So why not celebrate Mint Julep Day this May 30? Grab your favorite bourbon, invite your friends and toast to May and warm weather ahead!
At Luigi Bormioli, we take pride in our Italian-crafted, superior quality glassware. Your glasses, created using our proprietary SON.hyx ultra-clear formula, will retain their brilliant and transparent appearance and are backed by our 25-year guarantee that guards against chipping on the rim or foot, as well as discoloration or cloudiness resulting from washing. You will enjoy their beauty, durability and strength for many years to come. We aim to enhance your tabletop lifestyle and entertaining experience with a glass for every occasion. When the moment matters, the glass matters.