This jalapeño mint julep recipe is made with bourbon, jalapeños, fresh herbs, sugar, and ice. The perfect spring cocktail. (And, of course, Kentucky Derby quaff.)
To be honest, most julep recipes I’ve had are overly sweet, cloying, and hard to finish. This jalapeño mint julep is my twist: It’s minty and verdant, with a kick of spice at the end that makes you want another sip. Serve this jalapeño mint julep in a pewter or silver julep cup, and drink it outside on a porch sheltered by a magnolia tree.–Edward Lee
LC Lip Tingler Note
If you’ve always craved a little tingle as you’ve knocked back a mint julep, all you need is some jalapeño. Well, and something of a daring spirit, but we’d venture to say you’ve already got the latter.
Jalapeño Mint Julep
- Julep cup and wooden muddler (recommended but optional)
For the jalapeño simple syrup
- 1 cup water
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2 jalapeños stemmed and chopped (seeds and all)
For the mint julep
- 5 mint leaves plus a sprig for garnish
- 1 ounce jalapeño simple syrup
- Crushed ice
- 2 1/2 ounces bourbon
- 1 splash club soda
- 1 jalapeño slice for garnish
Make the jalapeño simple syrup
- In a small saucepan, combine the water, sugar, and peppers and bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Turn off the heat and let the mixture steep for 20 minutes.
- Strain the syrup and let it cool to room temperature. You should have about 1 1/2 cups. (You can pour any unused simple syrup into a resealable container and refrigerate for up to a couple weeks.)
Make the mint julep
- Place the mint leaves in the bottom of a julep cup, highball glass, mason jar, or some other julep-to-lips facilitator. Add the 1 ounce jalapeño simple syrup and gently bruise the leaves with a wooden muddler or a wooden spoon.
- Add enough crushed ice to fill the cup almost 2/3 full. Add the bourbon and stir gently, then fill the cup almost full with more crushed ice. Top with a splash club soda. Garnish with the mint sprig and jalapeño slice and serve immediately.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
This recipe is a very nice twist on the regular mint julep. It’s different but doesn’t stray crazy far from the classic. The jalapeño syrup gives it a nice gentle kick and adds a terrific green vegetal background that works really well with the mint. The recipes for the syrup and the cocktail are clear and make for a well-balanced drink with little fuss. I had several of these, with and without the club soda splash. I don’t think the soda water is really required. The drink is good with or without it, in case you don’t want to open a bottle of soda just to use a splash.
I’m a bourbon drinker, but mint juleps always seemed to be a little too soft around the edges for me to enjoy. Juleps are for people who want to like bourbon but need to hide it with mint and sugar, I thought. Still, I was willing to give this spicy version a try. Whoa! I took a little taste of the jalapeño simple syrup and immediately wondered if I was hardcore enough for this drink. It’s very spicy!
But once the spicy syrup is added to the muddled mint and bourbon, the spice softens and the earthiness of the jalapeño comes out. And it plays so nicely with the mint and bourbon. I enjoyed this well-balanced, refreshing drink immensely. I may have had 2—you know, in the interest of testing thoroughly.
Talk about a perfect cocktail! I was so pleased with this recipe. This is a seriously strong drink that sneaks up on you, and it’s divine. The jalapeño simple syrup was a wonderful concoction. It lent a mystical quality to the cocktail. (That’s right. Mystical! People couldn’t put their finger on the secret ingredient.) This drink was lovely in its complexity, strength, and appearance. It wasn’t very sweet, which was a great surprise. The heat is so much more complementary to the bourbon. And of course, with the bright mint sprigs, it’s darling to serve.
As a Southerner visiting her sister in the Pacific Northwest when this recipe came in, I found it to be an absolute must-try for our “Seattle misty mavericks.” First off, the jalapeños in the local markets out here appear to be genetically modified to be enormous…either that, or they just have really gorgeous growing conditions. As a result, I used only 1 for the syrup…and probably could’ve just used 1/2 of one. (A more detailed measurement such as 1 tablespoon would have been useful.) We used a locally distilled bourbon that I found to be nearly as good as Maker’s Mark. The result was truly startling. It was smooth and delicious with a bite on the back end. The only problem was the drink lost its taste after 3 or 4 sips since we were all a bit numb from the heat. To combat that, we added 1 scant teaspoon maple syrup, which took the drink to new heights. It was delicious. So to ensure the quality of our results, we made a second julep…and then a third!
Originally published April 18, 2015