Last Updated on August 4, 2022 by The Noms
In the spirit of both Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby, here is a Mexican mint julep cocktail to celebrate them together!
So what do you do when two celebrations fall on the same day?
In the spring there aren’t a whole lot of holidays or events that call for big celebrations, but there are two days that tend to be a good excuse to break out the bar cart and celebrate with a few cocktails! They are Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby. Both of these holidays are associated with iconic traditional cocktails, so naturally we are big fans of these holidays!
Mexican Mint Julep
This year happened to be a special occasion where both of these holidays fall on the same day! With that in mind, we decided we had to come up with a recipe that celebrated both holidays. So we combined parts of them into one, and with that, the Mexican Mint Julep was born!
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Cinco de Mayo
These days, Cinco de Mayo is known as a good excuse to party! Really, the celebration has its roots way back to 1862 when the Mexican Army defeated the French at the Battle of Puebla. The French Army was considered a vastly superior force, better equipped and with far more troops than the out-manned Mexican Army.
But, against all odds, the Mexican Army came out victorious, and the next week the President of Mexico declared May 5th would be a national day of celebration in Mexico.
How to Celebrate
And while celebrating a Mexican military victory is natural in Mexico, it really doesn’t make a lot of sense if you live in another county. This is where the great melting pot experience of living in the US starts kicks in and the blending in of other cultures leads to celebrating all kinds of heritages.
It was only natural when Mexican Americans started celebrating their Mexican heritage on Cinco De Mayo! A Mexican celebration calls for some kind of cocktail, and the most iconic Mexican cocktail might be a margarita!
What is the best Cocktail to celebrate with?
The margarita is a classic simple cocktail, made with tequila, orange liqueur and lime, a pleasing combination. A mix of sweet and citrus tart that is refreshing and crisp. And while most people make their margaritas with tequila, we like going with mezcal. It’s the bolder, smokier cousin of tequila that brings a depth and richness to the classic margarita. Both spirits are native to Mexico, so using a good mezcal in a cocktail definitely is a great way to celebrate Mexico!
The other big spring event that is definitely a party is the Kentucky Derby. The derby is technically a big and very famous horse race, but really is just a good excuse to drink the traditional cocktail of the Kentucky Derby, the Mint Julep.
The official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby since 1938, the Mint Julep gets a big bounce in popularity when the Kentucky Derby rolls around. In fact, during the Derby weekend they have typically served around 120,000 mint Juleps!
Traditionally served in a silver julep cup amidst a pile of crushed ice, the mint julep is famous not only for its dominance of the Derby, but also as the drink of choice on many porches across the American South on a hot summer evening.The Mint Julep is a classic smash cocktail made with bourbon, sugar and mint.
What is A Smash Cocktail?
Smash cocktails are a style of cocktails where a fresh ingredient is muddled or “smashed” to release the essence of the ingredient. In the case of the Mint Julep, a pile of fresh mint is muddled with sugar and water. This released the essential oils of the mint and created a mint infused simple syrup.
At this point, the appeal of the Mint Julep in the American South started to make sense when add in a pile of crushed ice and a nice healthy dose of the South’s favorite spirit, bourbon. The Mint Julep is served icy cold (and ideally cold enough to frost the glass or julep cup!) When made properly, the perfect combo of herbal sweetness helped to beat the heat!
In fact, that chilled frosted cocktail look is why traditionally the mint julep is served in a metal julep cup. The metal helped to conduct the chill out to the exterior of the cup. It also created a frosty finish all over the outside of the cup!
How to Celebrate Both Events?
With both of these big party events falling on the same day, we decided that we should combine them! Using a great Mexican spirit like mezcal with the herbal sweetness of the Mint Julep and make ourselves a Mexican Mint Julep! But wait, you say! Doesn’t a julep have to be made with bourbon?
The answer is no! In fact, the julep was likely originally made with brandy or gin! So, substituting in a great bold spirit like mezcal to make our Mexican Mint Julep means that this will be one great sipper!
What Ingredients are Needed for the Mexican Mint Julep?
- Brown Sugar
- Jalapeno Slices
- Crushed Ice
The smokey spice of the mezcal playing against the herbal sweetness of the mint and sugar makes for a really pleasing sip. We swapped out the regular sugar for some rich brown sugar. This adds a warm depth to the sweet side and bringing a hint of that caramel flavor that can be found in bourbon!
If You Are Looking for More Tequila Cocktails, Try These!
Add in the crushed ice to chill everything down and top it with a few jalapeno slices and a bouquet of fresh mint and you have a Mexican Mint Julep to celebrate!
Like this recipe? Try these below, too!
Other Mint Juleps
- Mint Julep – Liquor.com
- Sweet Tea Mint Juleps – How Sweet Eats
- Gin Mint Julep – Southern Fatty
- Frozen Mint Julep – She Wears Many Hats
- Lemonade Mint Julep – Bless Her Heart Ya’ll
Other Mint Cocktails
- Cucumber Cooler – Minimalist Baker
- Vodka Mint Lemonade – Laylita
- The Bootleg Cocktail – Cookie & Kate
- Mint Infused Blueberry Cocktail – If You Give a Blonde a Kitchen
- Strawberry Mint Lemonade Cocktails – Pursuit of it All
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A fantastic combination cocktail to celebrate both Cinco de Mayo as well as the Kentucky Derby! Mezcal is a smoky tequila that plays well with the brown sugar and mint in this refreshing twist on the classic cocktail.
Mexican Mint Julep
- 2 ounces Mezcal
- 4-5 mint leaves
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- Mint bunch for garnish
- 4-5 drops of water (enough to get sugar to melt)
- Crushed ice
- jalapeño slices for garnish
Add brown sugar and water to a rocks glass or julep cup.
Stir the sugar and water until it starts to melt / dissolve.
Add the mint leaves.
Press the mint and sugar. Don't muddle the mint leaves, just press to release the oils.
Fill the glass with crushed ice.
Add Mezcal and stir until the glass is frosty.
Top with jalapeno slices and a bunch of mint.
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Amount Per Serving: Calories: 173Total Fat: 0.3gSaturated Fat: 0gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 0gCholesterol: 0mgSodium: 5mgCarbohydrates: 6.8gFiber: 0gSugar: 2.9gProtein: 1.5g
PIN THIS MEXICAN MINT JULEP RECIPE FOR LATER!
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