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Serve up a Non-Alcoholic Mint Julep to celebrate Derby Day with the whole family! This easy, sweet drink is minty, refreshing, and a fun way to start a new tradition!
If you are planning on watching the Run for the Roses, you might also want to check out some of our other great Kentucky-inspired recipes like Southern Fried Chicken, Kentucky Butter Cake, and a Hot Brown Sandwich.
I always look forward to planning the recipes I'm going to make for each state in my American Eats series! It's such a fun way to get to know a place better. So even though I haven't had the chance to make it to Kentucky yet, it feels like I've at least gotten a taste of it. Pun intended.
There are loads of ideas for foods that best represent Kentucky, and many of them revolve around what is perhaps their most famous sporting event: the Kentucky Derby. Since mint juleps kept coming up as being an iconic beverage served during the horse race, I decided to create a non-alcoholic one that we could enjoy with our fried chicken for dinner one night.
We don't drink much soda or juice on a regular basis, but for special occasions everybody loves a fun beverage! These mint juleps were a hit with the fam!
What does a mint julep taste like?
Since we don't drink alcohol, I have never actually tried a "real" mint julep, which is made with Kentucky Bourbon. But this non-alcoholic version is sort of like a sparkling minty lemonade. It's sweet and minty with a hint of lemon and lots and lots of ice!
This version is based off of a copycat version of Disneyland's mint julep recipe that they serve at New Orleans Square where it is served at the Blue Bayou, Cafe Orleans, and the French Market. Except instead of using creme de menthe, I made my own simple syrup by boiling sugar and water with fresh mint leaves, then letting it cool before stirring in some lemon juice.
How to make a [non-alcoholic] mint julep
- Prepare the simple syrup. This can be done ahead of time since it takes a while to cool down. You can speed up the process a bit by rubbing ice cubes around the pot to help the syrup cool down faster. Leftover simple syrup will keep in the fridge for about 3 weeks.
- Completely fill glasses with crushed ice. This beverage is served cold! You want the ice to go all the way up to the rim of your glass.
- Add ginger ale and simple syrup in a 2-to-1 ratio. So add ½ cup ginger ale for every ¼ cup of simple syrup, for example.
- Garnish and serve! You can keep things simple and garnish with sprigs of mint, or add lemon wedges and maraschino cherries on top.
How to serve a mint julep
Traditionally, mint juleps are served in special silver cups that frost and condense on the outside thanks to all the ice that is used to fill up the cup.
Since I don't have any of those special cups though, I opted to serve our non-alcoholic mint juleps in some pint-size mason jars for a fun presentation that was different from our typical glassware.
More delicious drink recipes
- Homemade Hawaiian Punch
- Virgin Pina Coladas
- Orange Julius
- Blackberry Lemonade
- Brazilian Lemonade
- Raspberry Peach Italian Cream Sodas
- Fresh Squeezed Lemonade
Non-Alcoholic Mint Julep
Lemon-Mint Simple Syrup
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 6 sprigs mint plus more for garnish
- 1 cup fresh lemon juice
- 3 cups ginger ale
- crushed ice
- maraschino cherries optional
- lemon wedges optional
- Bring water, sugar, and mint to a boil in a medium saucepan. Stir until sugar is completely dissolved, then remove from heat and cool completely.
- Remove the mint leaves, then stir in the fresh lemon juice.
- Fill glasses completely to the top with crushed ice. Add 1 part simple syrup to 2 parts ginger ale (so ¼ cup simple syrup with ½ cup ginger ale, for example). Garnish with extra mint sprigs, lemon wedges, or maraschino cherries.
More States I Have Visited in my American Eats Series
Alabama • Alaska • Arizona • Arkansas • California • Colorado • Connecticut • Delaware • Florida • Georgia • Hawaii • Idaho • Illinois • Indiana • Iowa • Kansas • Kentucky • Louisiana • Maine • Maryland • Massachusetts • Montana • New York • Oregon • Puerto Rico • South Carolina • South Dakota • Texas • Utah • Wisconsin