It’s been a while since I’ve made a bourbon cocktail, and I thought I’de give a new one a try this week. I’m not entirely sure why, but this Blueberry Mint Julep got my attention as I scrolled through my the bourbon section of my Drinks board. I’m trying to remember if I’ve ever tried this classic cocktail, but I can’t recall ever trying one. So now I’m really looking forward to making this recipe and sipping on a classic Southern cocktail with a blueberry twist. I’ve got a bottle of Kentucky bourbon sitting on my bar, and I’m practically running to the grocery store for the rest of the ingredients. Let’s go!
This blueberry mint julep is an easy, seasonal, and fun twist on the classic summer cocktail that’s almost too pretty to drink – almost.
Seltzer, simple syrup (recipe below) and bourbon are staples in this house. I like to keep my bar stocked with basics in case we have company. Well, company and/or a stressful day, if I’m being completely honest.
That left me with just blueberries and mint to buy. Another super short grocery list of items from the same department, my favorite kind!
I went into this the same way I normally do, by following the instructions as closely a possible. They seemed clear and were easy to follow. However, the resulting blueberry mint julep cocktails looked a lot different from the author’s pictures. If you compare them, hers look like they were stirred after the ice was added. Mine were not because the instructions didn’t say to.
No biggie, until it came to the taste test. My husband, a real bourbon lover, graciously taste-tested with me. We did not use straws and both got sips of just bourbon and soda at first. I tried to add a straw, but the ice was too packed. Waiting for it to melt diluted the bourbon and finally allowed a straw to slip into the glass.
After a stir, the flavors of the mint, blueberries, and simple syrup became apparent. It was a whole different drink, and I enjoyed it. Still, I was left feeling I did something wrong, so I googled how to make and drink a mint julep. There’s a lot more history to this cocktail than I realized, and I knew I needed to give it another try.
Apparently, there are a lot of opinions on how to make a mint julep, but there are a few constants (besides bourbon and mint). I learned a major part of making a mint julep is the ice. Never cubes, and not just regular crushed ice from your ice maker, but finely crushed or shaved ice. So for my second try, I put ice cubes into a ziplock bag and smashed the bejesus out of them with a meat mallet. It was kind of fun!
The next change I made was to add the seltzer before adding the ice. That allowed me to stir all the ingredients to make sure the flavors melded. Then I piled on as much ice as I could fit into the glasses.
Oh, and I switched to a rocks glass. The traditional mint julep glass is a small metal cup (for lack of a better word), but I wasn’t going to go all out and buy special glasses just to make a cocktail. I’m not that fancy. A rocks glass seemed a little closer than a tall collins glass.
While I was photographing them, I noticed they frosted up like the traditional metal cups. The taller collins glasses didn’t do that, so I really think the rocks glasses were a better choice.
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup sugar of your choice (I use organic sugar, which gives the syrup an amber tinge)
- In a small saucepan, bring the water to a boil.
- Reduce heat to medium and add the sugar. Stir until dissolved (the mixture will become clear when the sugar is dissolved).
- Remove from heat and allow to cool. The simple syrup can be refrigerated in a bottle or other airtight container for up to 4 weeks.