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Best Mint Julep Recipe for Kentucky Derby Party

Have you watched the Kentucky Derby on TV? Then you know that the Mint Julep is the classic drink of the day. Want to try a Mint Julep? Then I’m going to share with you the best Mint Julep Recipe.

Most of the decorations I create for our Kentucky Derby party, I reuse. Each year, I come up with some new Kentucky Derby Party decorations to add to the old ones. One thing that never changes? The Mint Julep recipe stays the same.

It’s tried and true. In addition to our Mint Julep recipe, I thought I would show you our Pre-Race and Dinner menu also – just in case you needed some inspiration for your own Kentucky Derby party preparations.

Over the years that we have been hosting our Kentucky Derby party, we have learned that people think they won’t like a Mint Julep – until they try one!

We encourage our guests to have just one. We may not be in the Kentucky Bluegrass, but I still want our home to look festive and special for the Kentucky Derby party.

This mint julep recipe combines the essential mint julep ingredients, but it’s the proportions that make it the best.

Mint Julep Recipe for Kentucky Derby Party

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For the past 3 Kentucky Derby parties, we have served our main meal after the Derby. When our guests arrive, they are treated to a Mint Julep.

Mint julep recipe

We have 6 silver mint juleps cups – four that we bought at Paris Market in Savannah and two that I bought at the Lakewood Flea Market in north Georgia. We hope to add a couple more each year.

I do have to polish them a couple of times a year. My absolute favorite way to polish them is using these silver wipes. This product makes polishing so easy and fast and no messy paste or cream.

Mint Simple Syrup

One essential ingredient in the Mint Julep recipe is mint simple syrup. I (or Sweet Shark) make a pint of mint simple syrup a few days ahead for the party. It will keep in the refrigerator for weeks and weeks.

Mint Simple Syrup

The foundation of a Mint Julep, but can be used for baking and other cocktails.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 5 minutes
Course Cocktail
Cuisine American


  • medium saucepan
  • 1~cup liquid measuring cup
  • 1~cup dry measuring cup
  • wooden stirring spoon
  • plastic squeeze bottle
  • fine mesh sieve
  • funnel


  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cups granulated sugar
  • fresh mint 4 ~ 5 sprigs


  • In a medium saucepan, combine the water and the sugar.
  • Over medium heat, bring the water/sugar mixture to a simmer, stirring to dissolve. Do not allow the mixture to come to a boil.
  • When the sugar has dissolved, turn off the heat.
  • Add the mint sprigs to the simple syrup and stir. Allow the mint to steep in the simple syrup until the mixture is cool.
  • Strain the mint simple syrup through a fine~mesh sieve into a plastic squeeze bottle. Use a funnel to facilitate straining the mixture into the squeeze bottle.
  • Discard the mint. Refrigerate the mint simple syrup until ready to use.
Keyword mint julep ingredient, mint simple syrup, simple syrup
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!
Mint julep recipe

Kentucky Derby Mint Julep

This is Sweet Shark’s perfect start to a Kentucky Derby Party Day.

Just about any good bourbon will do for the mint julep. A couple of years ago a friend gave Sweet Shark this special Kentucky Derby bottle. He wrote a message on the back of the bottle.

We now have a bottle for each new year. They are like collector’s items.

Mint julep recipe

TIP: Mint Juleps are meant to be served over crushed ice. We buy bags of crushed ice at Sonic for about $2.79 a bag. That price has probably gone up, but it’s still the best ice for Mint Juleps.

Mint Julep

The iconic beverage of the Kentucky Derby. A simple drink meant for sipping through a straw.
Course Cocktail
Cuisine American
Servings 1 drink


  • tall cocktail glass or mint julep cup
  • ice scoop
  • bartender's small measuring cup
  • straw for drinking


  • 2 ounces Kentucky Bourbon
  • ½ ~ 1 ounce mint simple syrup
  • ice~cold water
  • mint leaves for garnish
  • crushed ice


  • Fill the serving glass with the crushed ice.
  • Add the bourbon and the mint simple syrup to the glass.
  • Top the glass with about 1 ounce of the ice~cold water.
  • Add a few fresh mint leaves for garnish. Serve with a straw.


For multiple drinks, keep the ice~cold water in a pretty pitcher.
Large quantities can be made ahead by combining the bourbon and the simple syrup.
Keyword mint julep, mint julep recipe
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Pre-Race Menu

After our guests are served their mint juleps, they can enjoy one of these pre-race goodies.

Sweet Shark’s smoked salmon is famous among our friends and family. The pimento cheese recipe is my favorite version from Scott Peacock and Edna Lewis’s The Gift of Southern Cooking. It’s one of my very favorite Southern cookbooks and I highly recommend it. I set the pre-race snacks on our large kitchen island.

Kentucky Derby Pre-Race Menu

Sweet Shark’s Smoked Salmon with Dipping Sauce and Toast Points
Southern Pimento Cheese*
Assorted Crackers
Fruit Tray
Derby Trash

Here’s the Southern Pimento Cheese Recipe for you.

I have 5 tables set for our guests to enjoy dinner after the race – one in the dining room, one in the breakfast room, and three outside on the patio. We just pray it doesn’t rain!

Here is the breakfast room table. All the tables had red roses in mason jars tied with black & white check ribbons.

Mint julep recipe

We have enough of the official Kentucky Derby glasses to use for “water”. This glass is from 2001 when Sweet Shark and I attended the Derby. I think it’s one of the prettiest.

Mint julep recipe

A few jockey caps add to the festivities as do the sprinkling of little horses on the table.

Mint julep recipe

The race is almost ready to go off. We do have to bring out every chair we own!

Mint julep recipe

We don’t set up the outdoor tables until Saturday morning. That’s when I put all the flowers on the tables. Here are more Kentucky Derby Tablescapes.

This is our dinner menu. It’s tested and approved by our guests. I set all the food on pretty china and silver platters on our island and serve buffet style.

Kentucky Derby Post-Race Dinner Menu

Maple-Glazed Ham
Cheddar Chive Biscuits
Fried Chicken Drumettes with Ranch Dressing
Shannon’s Mother’s Cornbread Salad*
Sweet Shark’s Baked Beans
Lemon Bars
Raspberry Chocolate Mousse Tartlets*

Be sure to check out the recipes for Shannon’s Mother’s Cornbread Salad and the Raspberry Chocolate Mousse Tartlets. Both recipes are amazing.

It’s almost time to place your bets. Be sure to watch the race on Saturday. Post time is about 5:30 CST although coverage of the horses, trainers, jockeys and shots of the ladies in their hats come on early in the day. Don’t miss it – remember, it’s only 2 minutes long!

Cheers! And may be best horse win!

Mint julep recipe

Don’t forget to PIN this post so you have the menu and the recipes.

Mint julep recipe
Mint julep recipe
Mint julep recipe

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  1. Having a Derby Party for the first time, can you please share your Derby Trash recipe. Your party sounds great, and I have taken several ideas from the post. Thanks.

    1. Hi there and thanks so much for reading Bluesky at Home. I’m so excited that you are having a Derby party this year. I am actually in Kansas City – been year since Wednesday for a conference but I’m flying home today and Sweet Shark says he made the mint simple syrup yesterday and he’s chilling our Derby cups.

      The Derby Trash is simply the mix that you can buy with Chex, miniature pretzels and nuts. I sprinkle some cayenne or paprika and a squeeze of lemon juice over and lightly toss. You can table and add a little kosher salt too. Even a little Tabasco is nice. Hope that helps and have a great time.

  2. What fun! I’ve never been to a Derby Party but yours looks fabulous! SO perfectly Southern:) Thanks for sharing at Vintage Charm! xo Kathleen | Our Hopeful Home

    1. Kathleen, our party is one that all our friends look forward to every year. Food and friends always go together and the Derby is a wonderful reason to gather.