Alcohol Free Mint Julep Recipe
If you're looking for a refreshing and classic spring whiskey recipe, it's hard to find something better than the mint julep. This traditional cocktail just gives you a taste of what life is like in the South - trying to stay cool on a hot day with a sip of something cold and icy.
That said, when it comes to mocktails, the mint julep is ripe for an update by using non-alcoholic whiskey. Plus, when adding Mashville whiskey-alternative from Seir Hill, the flavor of the beverage is taken up a notch or two.
Get your mint julep cup ready, and let's head down to the race track!
A Brief History of the Mint Julep
Even if you're not a cocktail aficionado, you probably know that the mint julep is a big part of the Kentucky Derby. Yes, it is the official drink of the race, but the history of the mint julep spans the globe, from ancient Persia to 19th-century America.
The name julep originated in Persia around 200 CE, although it was called gulab, and the beverage was reserved only for imperial princesses. The first gulabs were baths made with rose water, but eventually, they transformed into medicinal elixirs. By the 9th century, gulabs were more commonplace, and people were prescribed the rose-infused beverage to help relieve stomach issues and shortness of breath.
Around this time, the gulab underwent both an ingredient and a name change. Since mint was easier to find in the Mediterranean, many people started using mint leaves instead of rose petals. The name also switched to julab or julapium. Luminaries such as Michelangelo even drank his fair share of julabs during his life, although it's unclear how the beverage affected his artistic abilities.
By the 1700s, julapium reached the United States. By now, it was a mixture of muddled mint leaves and whatever high-proof alcohol one would have on hand. At that time, rum and brandy were everywhere, so they were the spirit of choice. Unfortunately, high taxes by the British made rum and brandy too expensive, so colonists began switching to something they could produce at home - whiskey (specifically, bourbon).
If you live in the US, you know that the home of whiskey is Kentucky, as distilleries within the state pump out both regular whiskey and bourbon at a phenomenal rate. So, by the time the first Kentucky Derby came in 1875, mint juleps were already pretty common. However, they were far from unique to the Derby.
As the Derby's audience grew, so too did everyone's love of the mint julep. The founder of Churchill Downs, a man aptly named Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr., started growing mint leaves behind the racetrack to use in the cocktails. By 1939, the mint julep was the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. At the same time, the track started serving the beverage in collector's cups so patrons could take the cup home (which they were doing anyway). That's why the mint julep cup is still a staple of the Derby to this day.
What You'll Need to Make a Mint Julep Non Alcoholic
For the best mint julep, you'll want super fresh mint leaves. Since muddling the leaves helps release their aroma and flavor, the fresher they are, the better the results. While you could use a pre-made julep mix, we recommend muddling leaves at least once so you can have the full experience. One taste and you'll understand why juleps were prescribed as health aids back in the day.
You'll also need a sturdy rocks glass, and a muddler to get the most flavor out of your leaves. Otherwise, the list of mint julep ingredients includes the following:
- 8-10 mint leaves
- 1.5 tsp refined sugar
- Seltzer water
- 2.5 oz Mashville alcohol-free whiskey
- Crushed ice
How to Make a Mint Julep Mocktail
If you have an actual mint julep cup, we highly recommend mixing this spring drink inside that so you can feel like you're at the race track. You can also feel free to wear a massive Derby hat to complete the ensemble.
First, put the mint leaves and sugar in the bottom of your glass. Muddle these ingredients until the leaves are well broken down. They shouldn't be mushy at the bottom, but they shouldn't look too much like leaves anymore.
Next, add a splash of seltzer, then fill the glass 3/4 of the way with crushed ice. Add your Mashville, then another spritz of seltzer on top. Garnish with a fresh mint leave and enjoy immediately for maximum refreshment.
Variations of an Alcohol Free Mint Julep
Now that you know what is in a mint julep, you may want to try a few variations to kick things up a notch. Here are a few mint julep recipes to tickle your tastebuds, but don't ask for these at Churchill Downs if you ever go. There, tradition is king.
- Make it Chocolatey - If you don't mind adding a little bit of alcohol, try pouring a dram of white cream de cacao. The flavor profile is similar to the Girl Scout Thin Mint cookie. This treat is perfect for a hot spring or summer day.
- Make it Fruity - Although the traditional ingredients in a mint julep are refreshing, they're awfully minty. To help cut down the intensity, you can add fruit like blackberries (or raspberries) along with honey instead of sugar or simple syrup. A dash of lime juice can also add a delightful zest to perk the drink up a bit.
Mashville is a remarkably well-rounded non-alcoholic spirit, so you can make all the classic whiskey cocktails with it. For more mocktail ideas, you can check out our recipe page. Seir Hill also offers alcohol-free rum and Tequila for your convenience.