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Sparkling Julep

Sparkling Julep

Mint julep + bubbly? This cocktail recipe combines the two delicious classics and is the ultimate way to celebrate.


  • 6 mint leaves, plus sprig for serving
  • 3 ounces Champagne or dry sparkling wine
  • 1 dash bitters (such as Angostura)
  • Lemon twist (for serving)

Recipe Preparation

  • Muddle mint leaves and simple syrup in a julep cup or rocks glass. Add Champagne, cognac, and bitters. Fill glass partway with crushed ice and stir gently to combine. Mound more crushed ice on top and garnish with a mint sprig and a lemon twist.

,Photos by Michael Graydon Nikole HerriottReviews Section

Mint Julep

The Mint Julep is a bourbon cocktail best known for being the signature drink of the Kentucky Derby. But this refresher composed of bourbon, sugar, mint and crushed ice shouldn’t be reserved for only one day a year.

The Mint Julep gained prominence in the southern United States during the 18th century, and it first appeared in print in 1803 in John Davis’ book “Travels of Four and a Half Years in the United States of America.” He wrote that the Mint Julep is a “dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning.” An ice-cold whiskey drink is certainly one way to start your day.

Since its creation, the Mint Julep has remained popular, but the julep itself is actually a category of drinks featuring a spirit served over crushed ice. So, it comes in more varieties than only bourbon and mint, and it’s likely that the first juleps were made with cognac or even peach brandy. After the phylloxera epidemic of the mid-1800s, which infected France’s grapevines and temporarily hindered that counry’s cognac trade, whiskey became the julep’s go-to liquor.

The Mint Julep is traditionally served in a rocks glass or, ideally, in a silver julep cup. Since bourbon is the only liquid in the drink, you’ll want to use a high-quality bottle that you know you love. A slightly higher-proof bourbon—something in the mid-80s or around 90—will keep the crushed ice from diluting the cocktail too quickly.

This recipe comes from San Diego bartender Erick Castro. Try making it for yourself, and see how a few ingredients can combine for ultimate refreshment. Sure, the Mint Julep is typically consumed on Derby Day, but don’t let that keep you from enjoying one whenever the mood strikes.

Sparkling Mint Julep Cocktail

Like a traditional mint julep, this cocktail combines mint, sugar, and bourbon. For the finishing touch, it’s topped with chilled Riondo Prosecco.

Make a mint infused simple syrup, instead of muddling together mint and sugar. The mint syrup can be used to sweetened cocktails, iced tea, and coffee!

Italian Sparkling Wine

Riondo Prosecco is an authentic Italian sparkling wine. It is widely accessible throughout the United States.

Riondo Prosecco can be enjoyed chilled on it’s own, or mixed with a variety of juices and spirits. It pairs well with mint and bourbon as shown in this cocktail.

How about trying an Italian version of French 75? Or putting an Italian twist on a margarita? Be sure to visit Riondo for more cocktail recipes and ideas.

Like Champagne, the name Prosecco refers to a specific region and grape. Prosecco has definitely gained in popularity over the years due to it’s approachable style. It’s light and fruity with a hint of sweetness.

While you’re trimming the tree, baking some cookies, or perhaps enjoying movie night with the family, this Prosecco julep would be a fantastic beverage to serve! Cheers!

Sparkling Ginger Mint Juleps

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This has been the week of Gatsby!

Last Saturday, my delightful book club spent an entire evening talking all things Gatsby and Fitzgerald (which led to a 90’s hits dance party…of course). Then on Monday night, three of us Gimme Some writers had the chance to attend an early screening of Baz Luhrmann’s new film at our favorite movie theater downtown. But people, this wasn’t just any screening. Full-on 20’s costumes were required, vintage cars were parked up and down Main Street, old movie posters lined the theater, and everyone came ready to have a roaring good time. Our friend Malina, a remarkably talented and gracious costume designer, was to thank for most of our group’s amazing costumes (including some great hats!). Our own Sarah from Gimme Some Film gave a rockin’ interview after the screening. And the movie — well, you must experience it for yourself. It’s epic Luhrmann, and a given must-see.

Although before or after you check it out, I highly recommend reading Sarah’s Great Gatsby review on Gimme Some Film. And checking out our Great Gatsby giveaway, F. Scott Fitzgerald giveaway, a reading by Carey Mulligan, thoughts on Gatsby hope and tragedy and epigraphs, and some Fitzgerald poetry on Gimme Some Reads. If you’re into art, definitely look into this Gatsby art project on Gimme Some Style. And if you haven’t already, pick up the book. It’s only 120 pages, and makes for a great Saturday afternoon read.

Of course, I couldn’t let the week go by without posting a recipe for mint juleps. Although for a different “sparkling” twist, I decided to try making some with my favorite ginger beer. Crazy good! All you need are 3 ingredients, and you get all of the goodness of a classic mint julep, but also a perfectly sweet and fizzy spin.

(If you, like Gatsby, think that “it’s a great advantage not to be drinking around drinking people”, these are also yummy without the bourbon.)

Sparkling Cider Mint Julep Mocktail Recipe

5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Happy New Year! Pop the… Martinelli’s? Yes! If you’re looking for some bubbly for your New Year’s celebration, grab a bottle of sparkling cider to ring in the New Year while avoiding the hangover. Or skip the bubbly and try this Cider Julep for a non-alcoholic twist on a classic cocktail. You’ll thank us later.

To craft our version of a Mint Cider Julep, start with a few cups of golden Martinelli’s Cider. Stir in pineapple juice, orange juice, and lemon juice to add a bit of tartness. Add crushed ice and top with some fresh sprigs of mint leaves. Savor each sip as the ice melts. It’s a delightfully refreshing drink that anyone can enjoy!

Mint Julep recipes for Kentucky Derby

Classic Mint Julep from "Julep: Southern Cocktails Refashioned" by Alba Huerta of Julep bar, Houston. These juleps will be served at Huerta’s 2019 derby party.

Julie Soefer / Julie Soefer Show More Show Less

Knob Creek Bourbon's simple mint julep recipe can be enjoyed while watching the Kentucky Derby.

Sparkling Rose Julep is made with Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon, rum, peach liqueur and bitters with rose water and sparking wine or cava.

Goode Co. Armadillo Palace will be serving mint juleps all day at its 2019 Kentucky Derby party.

Allison Moorman / Allison Moorman Show More Show Less

2 mint sprigs for garnish

Instructions: Place mint leaves and syrup in a julep cup (or old fashioned glass) and lightly muddle. Leave muddler in the glass and add the bourbon, pouring it over the muddler to rinse it off. Stir with muddler to mix. Fill the cup a little more than halfway with crushed ice and stir with a bar spoon 15-20 times. Add more ice to form a dome on top. Place a straw in the cup. Garnish with mint sprigs (press mint to release aroma) tucked into the ice. Dust the mint sprigs with powdered sugar. To make turbinado syrup: Place 1 cup demerara or turbinado sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan over medium heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature. Transfer to clean jar with lid and refrigerate for up to 2 weeks.

Makes 1 cocktail

From Alba Huerta, Julep bar Houston


1 ½ ounces Four Roses Small Batch Bourbon

½ ounce Plantation Dark Rum

½ ounce crème de peche de vigne (peach liqueur)

½ ounce mint-infused simple syrup

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Mint sprigs and rose petals, for garnish

Instructions: Combine all ingredients except sparkling wine in a cocktail mixer and stir. Pour into a julep cup or old fashioned glass. Top with crushed ice. Top with sparkling wine and garnish with mint and rose petals. To make mint-infused simple syrup: Combine 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar and 1 cup mint leaves in a small saucepan. Simmer until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and let steep. Strain into clean jar with lid, removing mint leaves. Can be stored in refrigerator for 2 weeks.

Makes 1 cocktail

From mixologist Tommy Flynn for Four Roses


1½ parts Knob Creek Bourbon

Instructions: Muddle a few sprigs of mint with syrup and soda in a julep cup or highball glass. Fill with crushed ice. Pour in bourbon. Decorate with additional sprigs of mint. Dust powdered sugar over top for a frosty appearance.

History of the Mint Julep

According to Travels of Four and a Half Years in the United States of America, an 1803 book written by John Davis, the mint julep was a cocktail steeped with mint that was imbibed in the morning by many Virginians. But the libation had already gained popularity by then in fact, there were multiple types of juleps widely available in the 18th century, as &ldquojulep&rdquo was more of a cocktail category for any spirit served over crushed ice, rather than a specific drink. The O.G. mint julep was likely made with cognac or brandy, but once France&rsquos cognac trade slowed in the mid-1800s due to the phylloxera epidemic (aka when a particular aphid insect destroyed a great deal of the country&rsquos vineyards), whiskey took its place in the cocktail. Over time, bourbon whiskey specifically became most associated with the mint julep because it was the go-to for poor farmers who couldn&rsquot afford imported spirits, like rum.

By the late 1930s, the cocktail was declared the official drink of the Kentucky Derby and started being served in souvenir julep cups. Experts say that the julep cup was first used as a horse racing trophy back in 1816, reflective of the drink&rsquos historic association with racing. Today, nearly 120,000 mint juleps are sold at the racetrack for the Kentucky Derby (that takes about 10,000 bottles of bourbon and 1,000 pounds of fresh mint!).

Champagne Julep Recipe

Let's start the weekend right--with a cocktail recipe from Paul Clarke (The Cocktail Chronicles). Need more than one? Hit up the archives. Cheers!

The great heat wave of aught-nine seems to have broken in the Northwest, but that doesn't mean it's time to disarm the heat-busting liquid arsenal. And even if you're in a place where the daytime highs aren't going to top 60 degrees today--hope you brought a jacket, San Francisco!--there are still some summer coolers that are worth breaking out just for the hell of it. Here's one: the Champagne Julep.

Bourbon gets all the glory when talking about juleps, but the drink has traditionally been made with an assortment of spirits. Rum, rye whiskey, and brandy all have a history in the julep department (and in the case of brandy, a longer history as a julep component than bourbon has). The Champagne Julep takes one of these elements, cognac, and fleshes it out in an extraordinarily decadent manner by contributing bubbly to the mix.

As described in the recipe below, the Champagne Julep is flavorful and, it should be noted, fairly powerful. You can reduce the drink's firepower, if desired, by cutting back on the cognac, and you'll still have a very refreshing and indulgent drink--not to mention a battle-ready summer cooler ready for the next heat wave that comes your way.

Champagne Julep

  • 1/2 ounce cognac
  • 3 ounces champagne or other dry, sparkling wine
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup or one sugar cube
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 6-7 mint leaves

Garnish: mint bouquet and lemon peel

  1. In a julep tin or rocks glass, add mint leaves and simple syrup (or sugar cube and a splash of water). Gently press mint leaves with a muddler to release oils.
  2. Add cognac, champagne, bitters and crushed ice and stir gently.
  3. Top with more crushed ice to mound.
  4. Garnish with a mint bouquet and lemon peel.

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Recipe Summary

  • 1 1/2 cups bourbon or corn whiskey (such as Uncle Nearest)
  • 2 black tea bags or 2 teaspoons loose black tea
  • 1/2 cup Oleo Saccharum (citrus oil)
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves, plus mint sprigs, for garnish
  • Crushed ice

Combine bourbon and tea bags in a 1-quart mason jar. Let steep 15 minutes. Discard tea bags (or strain mixture, if using loose tea), and return infused bourbon to jar. Add oleo saccharum, mint leaves, and 1 cup ice cover tightly with lid. Shake vigorously until chilled. Fill 6 chilled mint julep cups with crushed ice strain mixture into prepared cups. Garnish with mint sprigs.