The classic flavors of mint julep with a New England twist! Maple mint juleps are refreshing and easy to make with muddled mint and a swap for naturally sweet maple syrup over standard simple syrup combined with the perfect amount of bubbles.
Whether you’re into the Kentucky Derby or you just like refreshing cocktails that are perfect for those warmer days, maple mint juleps are going to be just the treat you needed. Granted, I’d like an excuse to wear a really over the top hat more often, so maybe more derby days?
Regardless of festivities, on a hot, humid day this thirst-quenching, palate cooling cocktail will certainly ease you into a more refreshed state of mind.
Traditionally, a mint julep involves bourbon, mint, sugar, and water (aka simple syrup) and crushed ice. Putting a maple spin on the julep involves two twists to the classic recipe.
- Instead of using simple syrup, you substitute with real Maple Syrup.
- The other twist is the addition of club soda and pouring the drink over regular ice – which makes a great option for making a pitcher or non-alcoholic drinks.
If you live for traditions, keep your serving glass in the freezer so your crushed ice won’t melt so fast when it comes time to sip your beverage.
How to make a maple mint julep
The traditional Kentucky Derby cocktail calls for a classic 1:1 simple syrup recipe that cools overnight with fresh mint. Instead of having to wait for that, we’re going to lightly muddle the mint with the maple syrup. You’ll also need a muddler (affiliate link.)
Think of it this way, you want to bruise the mint rather than crush and tear it with the muddle. So just a light twist of the muddle is perfect.
Top your sweet maple mint with bourbon crushed ice and a splash of club soda!
What bourbon should you use?
Overall, use one you like if there’s a standard bourbon you keep stocked in your liquor cabinet. If this is your first time dipping your toes into bourbon cocktails, then the world is your oyster but here are some thoughts.
- Woodford Reserve is the ‘official’ bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, but that’s a combination of quality and advertising. Woodford is a delicious bourbon, but on the pricier side.
- Since we’re mixing the bourbon with sweet maple, you can opt to go for something less expensive if that fits into your budget better, but maybe not the cheapest option.
- Old Forrester, Knob Creek, and Four Roses are other quality bourbon brands, but at the end of the day it comes down to using what you like/what’s easiest for you.
Making your own crushed ice
Nothing beats a mint julep with crushed ice. Its science. Okay, maybe it’s more preference than science but it’s still the best part.
If you don’t have a fridge that will do it for you, to make your own crushed ice you can:
- Use a crushed ice mold
- Run some ice through the blender
- Add cubed ice to a plastic bag and smash it with the meat mallet (this is what we do and the kids get a kick out of it.)
Looking for a minty non-alcoholic beverage to sip on? Try this drink without the booze! Just reduce the maple syrup 1/2 an ounce so it’s not too sweet.
With lots of ice and a little more club soda, it’ll be the perfect refreshing treat.
Making this cocktail in a pitcher
Maple mint juleps are cooling and refreshing, which makes them great for summer parties. You can easily turn this one cocktail recipe into a ‘for a crowd’ serving.
There are 2 ounces of bourbon per serving, so you’ll multiply that by the number of servings you want…let’s say 15 for a pitcher because we still need room for the other ingredients.
Then use old google to convert fluid ounces to cups. If the answer is a weird fraction, round down to the closest simple fraction (for example 2.81 cups to 2.75 cups) then add 1 tablespoon.
Converting a cocktail into a batch recipe will also require more mixer than the original recipe, so add a little more club soda than you’d typically add and you’re good to go!
The bourbon with its classic smokey caramel and vanilla flavors slightly sweetened by the maple syrup and a punch of tang from the muddled mint topped off with the fizzy club soda, it’s enough to bring a little bubble to the drink without over carbonating the palate and keeps the drink from too much sweetness.
So put on your floppiest hat, kick back and sip on this satisfying cocktail in the spirit of the Kentucky Derby!
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Maple Mint Julep
Maple Mint Julep
- 5 mint leaves
- 1 ½ ounces grade A maple syrup
- 2 ounces bourbon
- 3 ounces club soda
Maple Mint Juleps for a crowd (serves 15)
- 30 to 40 mint leaves about 2 bunches
- 2 ¾ cup Grade A maple syrup
- 3 ¾ cup bourbon
- 4 cans club soda
Non-alcoholic Maple Mint Julep
- 5 mint leaves
- 1 ounce grade A maple syrup
- 5 ounces club soda
Maple Mint Juleps
- Muddle mint leaves and maple syrup together. Using the muddler, press onto the mint leaves and twist. You want to squeeze out the oils from the leaves, not smash them to bits.
- Add bourbon and roll the drink from one glass to another to incorporate the syrup and the bourbon. Pack the glass with fresh ice.
- Top with club soda and garnish with a fresh mint leaf.
- How to make a batch: working in 3 batches, muddle the mint leaves in a cup or directly in the pitcher. Add the maple syrup and stir in the bourbon, mixing until all the ingredients are combine and the maple syrup is thinned out. Slowly pour in club soda. Fill cups with ice before pouring.
- How to make non-alcoholic: Follow steps 1 through 3, without the bourbon using the non-alcoholic quantities (because there is no alcohol, there is less maple syrup.)
- Don't have a muddler? Try using a wooden spatula or spoon. Alternatively you can combine the maple syrup and mint over low heat and simmer for 3 to 4 minutes. Let it cool completely before using.