As we’ve discussed here before, the Mint Julep is a bit of a divisive cocktail. It’s often dismissed out of hand (especially by those damn Yankees) as being too cloyingly sweet, too simplistic, or even too heavy on the bourbon. While the latter complaint is one we could never endorse, the first two certainly have some merit. Our classic Mint Julep recipe strives to resolve those issues, as when made properly it can be a refreshing, well-balanced drink that simply hits the spot on a hot summer afternoon.
For the intransigent julep-haters out there, though, there’s still hope. Over the years, creative bartenders and home enthusiasts have been tweaking the recipe to find new flavor profiles and, hopefully, make it a little more widely palatable. It saddens us to know that some people will never experience the serene joy of sipping one of these on a back porch in the humid Kentucky summer, so open your mind and give the Mint Julep variations below a shot—you might just end up with a new favorite cocktail.
Created by Reddit user timboevbo, we came across this recipe while, uh, “working.” Sloe gin, crème de cassis, and fresh blackberries present a fruity profile without sweetening the classic Mint Julep up too much, making this one of our favorite variations.
This recipe doesn’t deviate too heavily from the original, but employs a bit of champagne to mellow out the sugar and give the drink a bit of cosmopolitan elegance on top of its genteel roots.
Looking to spice up your Derby experience? Mix up this twist on the classic Julep, which calls for a healthy dose of moonshine. Liquor.com advisory board member and award-winning author David Wondrich created this tasty tipple in honor of Kentucky’s 220th anniversary of being a state.
I’ve yet to come across a cocktail that couldn’t be improved with ginger—well, okay, that might be an exaggeration, but it certainly fits the bill when it comes to juleps. A ginger liqueur, such as Domaine de Canton, spices up this recipe while a splash of citrus keeps it light and fresh.