Mint juleps are wonderful cocktails to sip on a hot day, as they are both simple and refreshing. They are traditional served the first weekend in May, as that is the day of the Kentucky Derby and mint juleps are the official cocktail of that historic horse race. Whether you watch racing or not, a refreshing mint julep is definitely a nice accompaniment for a lazy summer weekend afternoon – and this Strawberry Mint Julep is even better.
A classic julep begins by muddling mint and sugar at the bottom of a glass. This variation adds fresh, ripe strawberries into the mix. The berries are muddled along with the mint, releasing plenty of sweet strawberry juice and a pretty pink color into the mix. Be sure to choose the ripest berries you can, as they will release the most juice and flavor into your drink. The berry mix is sweetened with simple syrup, then bourbon is added and the drink is topped with crushed ice. Packing the glass with crushed ice keeps the drink extremely cold, even on the hottest day. Strawberries and mint are a delicious combination no matter how you serve them, and the oaky, vanilla bourbon just adds one more (delicious) dimension to the combination! I used Maker’s 46 in my cocktail, however any bourbon you like will do the trick here.
If you are serving a crowd, it will save you time and effort if you puree the strawberries before making your drinks, so you can simply add a measure to each glass as you go. To make the puree, simply blend 1 pint of strawberries (hulled and washed) with about 1/2 cup of sugar, then strain out the seeds. The puree should be fairly sweet, eliminating the need for additional sugar in the drink. Then, add 1 1/2 – 2 ounces of strawberry puree to each glass when you muddle in the mint and you’ll be ready to go!
Strawberry Mint Julep
3 strawberries, hulled and quartered
3/4 oz simple syrup (or to taste)*
10-12 mint leaves
2 oz bourbon
In a glass (preferably an 8-10 ounce glass), combine strawberries, simple syrup and mint. Muddle with a muddler or the back of a wooden spoon to puree the strawberries and release the oils from the mint leaves.
Pack the cup cup with crushed ice and add the 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. You can buy it at a liquor store or make it yourself. It is much easier to use than regular granulated sugar in cold drinks and cocktaisl