Mint juleps are simple, refreshing cocktails that offer a boozy way to beat the heat on a hot day. Many of us associate them with the Kentucky Derby, as they are the official cocktail of that particular event, but they can be enjoyed any time of year. The basic recipe is made with nothing more than bourbon, mint, a little sugar and a lot of shaved ice. It’s easy to put your own spin on it by adding an ingredient here and there. I often put a fruity twist on this cocktail, like I did with my Strawberry Mint Juleps, and this version uses cherry.
Unlike strawberries, it takes a bit of work to extract enough juice from a cherry to flavor a cocktail, so instead of using fresh cherries, I used a cherry liqueur: Cherry Heering. Cherry Heering is a wonderful sweet cherry liqueur made from real cherries (so each batch can taste a little different, due to differences in the cherries from each season!) and spices. I added a generous pour of it to my julep along with bourbon, creating a cocktail that is still just as minty and refreshing as the original, but with a rich, sweet cherry backdrop.
These cocktails are easy to make for a party because they are so simple, though they do need to be assembled one at a time. If you’re a cherry-lover, they’re a must-try. Don’t forget to add a cherry to the top of the cocktail before serving as a garnish. I recommend a fresh cherry, if you have some on hand, or some high quality cocktail cherries. I used a Luxardo cherry as the garnish in the photo above.
Cherry Mint Julep
1 1/2 oz bourbon
1 oz Cherry Heering
1/4 oz simple syrup (or to taste)*
5-8 fresh mint leaves
In a glass (preferably an 8-10 ounce glass), simple syrup and mint. Muddle with a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon to smash the mint and release the oils from the leaves.
Pack the cup with crushed ice and add in Cherry Heering and bourbon.
Stir the drink until a frost forms on the outside of the cup and serve.
*Simple syrup is made by melting sugar into an equal amount of water to make a syrup that can be incorporated into both hot and cold beverages.