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Mixology: Mint Julep for Derby Day featuring Bulleit Bourbon

how to mixology montana rae recipe whiskey May 04, 2022

The Kentucky Derby horse race is this Saturday and I'm putting together the classic cocktail for the occasion: The Mint Julep. The drink begins with a base of fresh mint leaves which are gently muddled with granulated sugar. Next, a sturdy pour of one of my favorite spirits, Bulleit Bourbon. The mixture is topped with a mound of crushed ice which dilutes it and brings the temperature as low as it can go for maximum refreshment on a sunny race day in May.

Since this is a simple, spirit-forward drink, the ingredients are more important than ever. Look for the freshest mint you can find and be sure to get plenty of it since each drink uses a generous amount. For sugar, I used granulated organic white sugar. Some people prefer to use sugar cubes or simple syrup and either option works!

Bourbon Selection

A Derby Day celebration calls for a Kentucky-made spirit, of course. I chose Bulleit Bourbon for its subtle, complex style. The flavors and aromas are intense but balanced and are lifted beautifully by the delightful scent of the mint. The sugar is just enough to balance the powerful nose and palate of oak, maple, and baking spices. Bulleit has an especially high content of rye in the blend, as well as corn, barley, malt, and specially selected yeast strains. The distillery uses pure, limestone-filtered water from Kentucky to bring this whiskey to life from a 150-year-old family recipe.

If you’d like to experiment with a different bourbon with this recipe, I also recommend trying Angel’s Envy, Buffalo Trace, or Woodford Reserve.

What You'll Need

Simple and straightforward, this cocktail doesn’t require much in the way of fancy bar tools. Just a few simple items are all you need. If you’re missing, anything, I’ve linked out to a few of my favorites from Amazon!

Bar Tools


  • 2.5 ounces Bulleit Bourbon or bourbon of choice
  • 8-10 mint leaves, reserve one for garnish
  • 1 tablespoon granulated white sugar, or 2-3 sugar cubes, or ¾ ounce simple syrup
  • ice, crushed
  • bitters, optional – I used Bittercube Orange Bitters because I love the way the aroma plays with the mint and bourbon. You can also use Angostura bitters, the classic choice for this recipe.

Let’s Build It

This cocktail comes together right inside the glass it’s served in. Start by laying your mint leaves down in the bottom of the glass and muddle them gently to release the oils and aromas. Next, add your sugar or simple syrup and muddle again gently. Pour your bourbon directly on top of the mint and sugar in the glass. From here, pack the glass with crushed ice, creating a small dome on top of the cocktail. Finally, add a few drops of bitters on top of the ice, and then add your final mint leaf for a pop of color as a garnish.

Let me know if you decide to make this delightful drink this Derby Day! What bourbon did you decide to go with? Let me know in the comments below!

Cheers and good luck on race day!

- Montana Rae and The Wine Ship Cru

Photography & Videography by Andy Petek

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