Pitcher Cocktails: The Muddle-Free Mint Julep

Derby hats not required.

Ah, the mint julep. The quintessential drink of the South. The drink of the Kentucky Derby! But more importantly, mint juleps are what you drink when it’s over a hundred degrees outside, the humidity is at one hundred percent, and all you want to do is lay on a hardwood floor under a fan on its highest setting. Which, here in Georgia, is the entirety of July and August. Oy.

The real key to a mint julep is to not use a lot of sugar. Mint has a sweetness to it, so you should always, always have a higher ratio of bourbon and soda water to simple syrup. Otherwise, you’re going to be drinking what essentially tastes like gum, or cotton candy. Not very appetizing.

Sparing poor wedding bartenders’ arms from the toil of muddling heaps of mint during your reception (and let’s be honest, sparing your guests a long line at the bar) is probably the main reason mint juleps, and other muddled cocktails, get thrown out of the usual list of wedding cocktail ideas. But mint juleps are delicious, and possibly your wedding is going to be on a very hot day. So we’ve come up with a mint julep that skips the muddling, in favor of a mint simple syrup. A mint simple syrup that is probably equally delicious in other drink recipes you can try—I’m looking at you, mojitos. (And, funny enough, crazy good in iced tea, for the non-drinkers at your wedding.)

We’ve already written about how to prepare cocktails in big batches in advance, so review that if you need to. Done? Excellent. All cocktail recipes are essentially ratios, and just like with our previous drinks, we’ll give you the recipe for one cocktail (which one should always have, in case of I-need-this-tonight emergencies) and then the basic ratio for scaling up.

To Make Mint Simple Syrup

Bring a 1:1 ratio of sugar and water to a boil. Simmer for ten minutes, dissolving the sugar, then remove from the heat. For every cup of water, add one bunch of mint. Steep for twenty minutes, strain, and refrigerate.


2 oz bourbon
1 oz mint simple syrup
2 oz soda water


2 parts bourbon, 1 part mint simple syrup, 2 parts soda water

For 100 Cocktails you need

200 oz bourbon
100 oz mint simple syrup
200 oz soda water

You may need to do some math at the store when you are buying your booze. Some spirits are sold in ounces, others in liters, others in quarts, pints, or gallons. We highly encourage using this smartphone app or this one, or this website for your conversions.

Now, put on your big hat and grab a drink. It’s time to get hitched, y’all!

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  • emmers

    Love this! Any thoughts as to how large said bunch of mint should be when making the syrup? And do you think the syrup would store OK in fridge or freezer? I have visions of making mint syrup portions in an ice cube tray for …er… personal emergency cocktail use.

    • Emily

      Simple syrup in my experience does …ok in the freezer, well enough for emergency use. Make sure to let the cubes melt before you add your other ingredients so that you can stir it around a little.

    • KC

      Herb-infused strained simple syrups generally store just fine in the fridge for at least a month (provided it’s in something that protects it from other fridge “friends”, such as garlic). Freezing should be fine with the same caveats.

      I don’t know how large of a bunch of mint was used in the making of this particular cocktail recipe, but in case there aren’t amounts available (which there probably aren’t, really, because even the same mint plant [not even a different plant or a different variety!] can be more potent or less potent depending on season and time of day picked): in general with mint, you can just steep it longer/shorter if you want it stronger/weaker . Smashing it up also helps make the final potency stronger (see: muddling – although in this case you’d probably use a potato masher after you’ve added it to the syrup, or wring the stalks of mint like you’re wringing out a washcloth or similar before dropping it in to steep).

      Good luck! And yum.

      • emmers

        So freaking excited!!!!

  • E

    But of course! We always do this for our Derby parties. Who has time for muddling mint when there’s betting to do!

    • JY

      My late mother-in-law would also do this for their Derby parties every year. They were always delicious! Now all it needs is some Derby pie.

  • Fiona

    YAY! Thank you thank you thank you for the mojito advice. We’ll definitely do the mint simple syrup for mojitos…

  • So if one were to have a huge jug of starbucks mint syrup lying around, could one just cheat and use that with bourbon and soda water for a few cocktails in a pinch, if one were both lushy and lazy? (Asking for a friend.)

    • Meg Keene

      Cough. That friend could get quite tastily SMASHED. Mint Juleps, man. They can really screw you up…

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  • lady brett

    yes, please.

  • Bsquillo

    The day after our wedding, my husband and I bought two bottles of nice bourbon as a “we’re married” treat. I see these mint juleps in our future…

  • Megera

    Oh goodie — we’re just starting to buy booze for our October wedding. I’ll try to wait patiently for pitchers cocktails suitable for early fall: one light & one dark please?

  • Kerry

    We are doing this with mojitos for our wedding! After many taste-testing sessions, we nailed down a pretty similar recipe. Just sub white rum for the bourbon, and add lime juice. We’re actually mixing the non-bubbly ingredients to be stored in a big jug, and then having our bartender top each glass with club soda individually. That way, the bubbles stay bubbly!

  • ART

    I have never had a mint julep, and I have rye and soda water at home. What is stopping me? Tonight, maybe nothing.

  • LisaG

    Mint syrup is also a tasty addition to lemonade, with or without booze. One of the best meals I ever had was at a Moroccan restaurant in Granada, Spain and was washed down with mint lemonade.

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