Since everything about Derby Day is different from usual this year, I’m going to give you a collection of 7 fun mint juleps to chose from for your home and small party celebrations. So, get ready to gather your mint julep ingredients because this list gives you the best mint julep recipes (non-traditional).
The Run for the Roses evokes a deep emotional response for me. Growing up in the Louisville area, the weeks before Derby were the most special time of the year. A sense of anticipation and giddiness builds. We’re all planning parties or outfits, or what dishes to share with friends and family. I’m planning mint juleps and fun cocktails for the parties I’ll attend.
Even though visitors won’t be consuming thousands of mint juleps at the track this week, we need to celebrate the Kentucky Derby and a homemade mint julep or a pitcher of juleps with a small group of friends in the way to do it in 2020. We’ve got breakfast juleps, ice cream juleps, peanut butter banana juleps, chocolate pecan juleps, every kind of fun julep you need to put together a home Derby celebration and create a mint julep for every palate.
What makes a great julep? It’s the perfect combination of spirit, flavor and herb garnish in a frosty cold beverage. Juleps are easy cocktails to make, just spirit, sweetener, crushed ice and an herb sprig. Originating in the 1700s, it came from a centuries-old Arabic tradition of sweetened rosewater called a julab. Head forward the US and by the late 1700s we have a tipple used in Kentucky and Virginia that migrated to the rest of the country.
At a normal Kentucky Derby, more than 120,000 mint juleps would be sold Derby weekend. This year, everything is different, so let’s head into a range of fun and easy juleps to keep your Derby party at home. All of these are fun variations on the classic mint julep, so you won’t mind spending the day watching horses on the television instead of live at the track.
Peanut Butter Banana Julep – The Elvis
I’ll start with my favorite. This combination of banana liqueur, peanut butter liqueur and bourbon easily steals the show for any collection of mint juleps. Named the Elvis Julep for the king’s love of all things peanut butter and banana, this one’s easy to batch and fun to serve with a tiny peanut butter banana on the side.
Breakfast Mint Julep
Start Derby Day off right at home with this Breakfast Mint Julep – it’s a strong drink of bourbon, coffee liqueur, maple and orange – all the tastes you’d normally find in a great Derby breakfast, but in drink form. While this doesn’t have to be relegated to your first mint julep of the day, it’s an easy one to sip while making that Triple Crown Pie.
Triple Crown Pie Mint Julep
Bourbon, chocolate and pecan in a mint julep riff is a match made in heaven. Step into bliss sipping this easy and fast Triple Crown Pie mint julep based on the flavors of the Derby’s favorite Triple Crown Pie. Every family has their own pie recipe, but now you have your own favorite cocktail to sip while making that pie and watching the Derby run.
Root Beer Float Mint Julep
Let’s go all the way over the top for this root beer float julep. All the way. This mint julep is basically a combination of a boozy adult root beer float and the basic elements of a mint julep. Served with a huge dollop of vanilla ice cream on top and a spoon, it’s more dessert than cocktail, but rest assured, we got your bourbon (and bourbon cream) in this one. Perfect for drinking after the Derby runs when you’re munching on that chocolate pecan pie.
Weep No More: Blueberry Lavender Julep
Heading away from dessert mint juleps for this variation, I’m taking a more floral and fruity take on the basic julep. Using aromatic florals from a lavender simple syrup, and a gorgeous blueberry syrup, the blueberry lavender julep is a quick and easy julep to put together that’s elegant and easy to sip. Garnish with a sprig of lavender from the garden and put your Derby hat on for this one. I loved the color so much I served it neat, but it’s amazing over crushed ice with a lavender garnish in a standard julep cup.
Apricot Rose Julep
Another fruity, gorgeous take on the mint julep, the apricot rose julep is a more refined julep, with hints of rose simple syrup and apricot liqueur along with our usual bourbon and mint sprig. It’s refreshing, light and goes with any Derby hat or fascinator to up your julep game. Each sip is slightly fruity and floral without being overpoweringly sweet. It’s a summer refresher perfect for this year’s September Derby
Pineapple Sage Rum Julep
Did you think you could only use whiskey in juleps? Let this rum julep change your mind with pineapple syrup (very quick to make) and a sprig of fresh sage from the garden as garnish. It’s a tropical take on our usually American-spirit-centered julep. Plus, it’s blue, so you might forgo the traditional silver or pewter julep cup and go for a clear glass to let that color shine.
So try out some of these fabulous juleps while watching the Kentucky Oaks or Derby from home. It’s a non-traditional Derby, so let’s have a non-traditional mint julep while we’re at it.
Did you try it? I love getting unsolicited DRINK pics from you when you try out a cocktail. Send them along to me on social media. Join me on my social channels at @cocktail_contessa on Instagram and Cocktail Contessa on Facebook and use the hashtags #cocktailcontessa and #bourbonismycomfortfood.
Want more cocktail content? Subscribe to my weekly newsletter here and get a free ebook of my favorite cocktails I can’t stop making!
Recommended Bar Tools
You don’t need every slick, beautiful bar tool out there, but there are several I’ll recommend. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. However, that does not affect the cost of the items below.) My favorite pieces:
You probably already have these, but you may need them, too: