For years, we’ve been in pursuit of the perfect Mint Julep to accompany our Kentucky Derby Day festivities, which are a big deal in the Clayton household as my mom was raised in Louisville. We think this recipe is just right – not too much bourbon, not too sweet and just enough mint. Give it a try – you won’t be disappointed!

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Genuine Derby Day Mint Juleps

  • Yield: 12+ 1x


(From “A Well-Seasoned Kitchen®” by Sally Clayton and Lee Clayton Roper)


  • 2 cups water
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/3 cup + 1/4 cup packed fresh mint leaves, divided (plus sprigs for garnish)
  • 1 bottle good bourbon (Mom preferred Jack Daniels)


  1. Make a simple syrup by bringing the water to a boil. Remove from heat and stir in sugar. Continue to stir until sugar dissolves and the water is no longer cloudy (doesn’t take very long). Stir in 1/3 cup mint, crushing the mint leaves with the spoon. Cover and allow to steep for several hours or overnight (the longer the better!).
  2. Place a few mint leaves in the bottom of each mint julep cup, and crush with a muddler (or back of a spoon). Fill each cup with lots of ice (to the top). Add 3 ounces (1/3 cup) of bourbon, 3 to 4 tablespoons of the mint simple syrup (or more to taste) and a sprig of fresh mint. Enjoy!


The mint simple syrup will keep in the refrigerator for several months. It’s great for mojitos, too!


Lee Clayton Roper


I’m Lee Clayton Roper, and I’m passionate about making cooking and entertaining easy, elegant and fun. Here you’ll find scrumptious recipes, helpful tips and seasonal menus that will spark inspiration in your kitchen!
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Access more recipes in Lee's award-winning book, Fresh Tastes!

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