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

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

  • Yield: 12+ 1x


  • 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!


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About the author

Hi, I'm Lee.

I am inspired by my mother, Sally’s, love of cooking and entertaining to gather friends and family together over great meals and conversation. In fact, I held my first dinner party at the age of 16. Throughout the years, I haves provided recipes, menu advice and cooking tips to friends seeking uncomplicated and delicious ideas for home entertaining.

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