Triple Crown Julep

Willa Van Nostrand, Little Bitte Artisanal Cocktails, Providence Always garnish with a fresh mint sprig, and remember: These little darlings pack a punch.

Photography By Chip Riegel | March 19, 2016


In a chilled mint julep cup, add ice, followed by mint syrup and bourbon. Stir, then top with more ice to crown the cup. Garnish with fresh mint.

* Combine 1 cup granulated sugar and 1 cup water in a saucepot over low heat until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat, add ¼ cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves and gently muddle. Allow to cool for at least 1 hour and refrigerator overnight. Strain, discard solids and pour into a clean bottle. Refrigerate up to 2 weeks.

About this recipe

Derby Day & The Etiquette of the Julep

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The mint julep became the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby in 1938. The recipe calls for muddled spearmint, sugar and a splash of water topped with crushed ice and bourbon. The cocktail was born in the American South in the late 18th century and was originally made with brandy, gin, genever and, finally, whiskey. Today, Woodford Reserve bourbon is the definitive brand of the Kentucky Derby. A julep is meant to last several hours, hence the heavy proportion of whiskey to sugar and copious amounts of crushed ice.

The silver (or pewter) julep cup insulates the cocktail, forming an icy crust on the exterior, so be sure to handle a julep by its lip and base to ensure a prolonged chill. Some prefer to “spank” or “clap” their mint before muddling but I like to prepare a heavily minted simple syrup the day before, muddling the mint into the syrup instead of goblet per goblet. Use mint varieties such as orange mint, Kentucky Colonel mint, apple mint or Lebanese mint for variation, and appreciate the sweet and pungent chords of each.


  • 4 ounces Woodford Reserve bourbon
  • 1 ounce mint-infused simple syrup*
  • Plenty of crushed ice
  • 1 sprig fresh mint for garnish
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