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Virgin Mint Julep Mocktail Recipe

Much like the classic, virgin mint juleps are all about aromatics. The aroma of mint should be the first thing you notice. It is undeniably fresh which in turn infuses the drink with the freshness that only mint leaves can impart. For this reason, you want to select mint leaves that are perky and even colored to ensure the best quality. As for flavor, bourbon has a strong presence and then the sweetness comes in. Pairing apple cider with vanilla extract closely mimics the signature notes of bourbon. The apple cider features that earthy complexity you get with the spirit while the vanilla extract brings the strong vanilla notes. As for the mint simple syrup, it adds another fragrant layer, increases the sweetness level just a bit and produces that lingering cooling effect on the tongue that makes this mocktail all the more enjoyable.


Total Time: 40 minutes

Active Time: 10 minutes


Ingredients for the Mocktail

Serves 1

Mint simple syrup

  • ½ cup water

  • ½ cup granulated sugar

  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves


Mint julep

  • 2 large mint leaves

  • 1 tablespoon mint simple syrup

  • Crushed ice

  • 2 tablespoons apple cider

  • 1 tablespoon alcohol-free vanilla extract

  • Splash of cold water


Virgin Mint Julep Recipe Directions


To make the simple syrup:

  1. Add the water and sugar to a small saucepan.

  2. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat.

  3. Stir and let boil for 3 minutes or until the sugar dissolves.

  4. Remove from the heat then add the mint.

  5. Leave to cool for 30 minutes.

  6. Strain and store in a bottle or jar.


For the mint julep mocktail:

  1. Add the mint leaves and mint simple syrup to the bottom of a julep cup.

  2. Muddle to release the flavors of the mint leaves.

  3. Tightly pack the cup with crushed ice.

  4. Pour the apple cider and vanilla extract over the ice followed by the cold water.

  5. Enjoy.


Looking to impress your guests with a little extra history? Explained below is everything you need to know about the fascinating, slightly muddled history of this popular drink.

History of the Mint Julep

Some historians believe the first iteration of the mint julep (which is made by combining bourbon, fresh mint, water, and a little sugar) was an Arabic drink known as julab, which was made with water and rose petals.

When the julab made its way over the Mediterranean region, the rose petals were replaced with the mint that is indigenous to that location. After this, the drink quickly spread throughout Europe.

The Mint Julep as Medicine

The earliest known reference to the mint julep in the U.S. dates all the way back to 1784 on the east coast. At this time, it served as a medicinal beverage to treat ailments such as an upset stomach. 

The Mint Julep as a Morning Drink

The mint julep is mentioned again in the 1803 publication "Travels of Four and a Half Years in the United States of America." It's believed that, at this time, the mint julep was the preferred energizing morning drink for southern farmers, similar to coffee these days.

The Mint Julep and the Kentucky Derby

The mint julep has come a long way since it first served as a medicinal beverage and a morning pick-me-up. 

It's now the official drink of the Kentucky Derby and has been since 1938 (although, people enjoyed it long before it attained official drink status). Every year during the Kentucky Derby, more than 80,000 mint juleps are sold.

Try a Refreshing Mint Julep Today

You don't have to attend the derby to enjoy a mint julep. They're easy to whip up at home, and you can even replace the bourbon with ginger ale for a tasty virgin mint julep.