The mint julep is a classic bourbon based cocktail frequently associated with the Kentucky Derby and the American South. You can still enjoy the refreshing mint flavors in a nonalcoholic mint julep, served with plenty of finely crushed ice. Even without the bourbon, it's a true Southern classic.
Can You Really Make a Nonalcoholic Mint Julep?
Southerners take great pride in the traditional mint julep, and the very thought of making a nonalcoholic version might seem like sacrilege to many julep enthusiasts. The cornerstone ingredients of this cocktail have always been good bourbon and fresh mint. So the question begs, how can someone make a julep without the alcoholic component and still have it taste like it should?
The honest answer is that the resulting drink won't taste exactly like a true julep because it doesn't contain bourbon, but it can still be a pleasing drink that honors the spirit of the original while still providing that delightfully cooling tickle across your tongue. If you really want to mix a nonalcoholic mint julep, it's certainly worth it to give one of the following recipes a try.
Alcohol-Free Mint Julep
When you just need to make a cocktail or two, this single serving recipe will serve you well.
Crush Your Ice
The key to a good mint julep is to make it super frosty and make the collins glass or julep cup you serve it in equally chilled. Do this by making finely crushed ice (slightly chunkier than snow cone consistency). The best way to create the ice is to put ice cubes in a Lewis ice bag and pound the heck out of it with a wooden mallet. Make more ice than you think you'll need, because you want to mound it in the cup.
- Put the mint leaves and ½ ounce of the simple syrup into the julep cup or collins glass.
- Muddle with a long-handled muddler, just three or four presses to break open the veins in the mint leaves to release the flavor. Do not over-muddle, or the mint will become bitter.
- Use a scoop to fill the collins glass or julep cup to the top with the crushed ice.
- Pour the cola or iced tea over the top of the ice. Stir with a barspoon until the glass frosts.
- Add more crushed ice on top until it mounds over the rim of the cup
- Drizzle the remaining ¼ ounce of simple syrup over the top of the ice.
- Garnish with a few attractive fresh mint sprigs. Before adding them as garnish, give the sprigs a light slap between your palms to release the mint oil in the leaves.
Mock Mint Julep Punch
Here's a tasty recipe that allows you to make an entire batch of alcohol-free mint juleps to serve at a special gathering. Even the kids can give it a try. It makes about nine 8-ounce servings.
- Bunch of fresh mint leaves, stems removed
- 1 cup simple syrup
- 1 cup cold water
- 2 liters ginger ale
- Add the mint to the bottom of an empty punch bowl.
- Pour the simple syrup over the leaves and gently muddle with a long handled muddler to release the flavor. This only requires a few gentle muddles to break open the veins in the leaves and release the aroma. Do not over muddle, or the mint will become bitter.
- Pour the cold water over the mint and syrup and stir.
- Add the ice.
- Pour the ginger ale over the top of the ice.
- Stir slowly to mix the ingredients and allow to chill for a few more moments before serving.
Once you've given this recipe a try, you can adjust the amount of any particular ingredient to make the punch more to your own taste. You can also double the ingredients to fill a larger punch bowl if you wish.
Making the Most of Nonalcoholic Mint Juleps
These recipes do make a tasty beverage, but don't try to pull the wool over your guests' eyes. Be up front about the fact that this is an alcohol-free version of the classic mint julep. Your guests will appreciate your honesty, and they're more likely to give the beverage a fair try rather than dismiss it as a poorly-made cocktail.