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National Mint Julep Day (May 30)

Check out the weird holiday National Mint Julep Day on May 30. Learn about the history of Mint Juleps, and get ideas on how to celebrate.

One weird holiday on May 30 is National Mint Julep Day. Check out the other weird May holidays!

The sun beats down on a warm spring afternoon in the American South. A gentle breeze rustles the leaves of magnolia trees, and the world seems to slow down. It’s a moment of serenity, a slice of the American South captured in a glass. This is the essence of the mint julep, a beloved cocktail that has transcended its origins to become an emblem of southern charm and hospitality.

National Mint Julep Day celebrates this timeless drink, inviting people around the world to savor its refreshing simplicity and rich history. In this comprehensive exploration of National Mint Julep Day, we’ll delve into the origins of this classic cocktail, its cultural significance, how to make the perfect mint julep, and the various ways it has woven itself into the tapestry of American traditions.

When is National Mint Julep Day?

National Mint Julep Day is celebrated annually on May 30th.

The specific reason for choosing May 30th as National Mint Julep Day is not well documented. However, the timing aligns closely with the Kentucky Derby, which traditionally occurs on the first Saturday in May. The mint julep is famously associated with this event, where it is enjoyed by thousands of spectators each year.

By celebrating National Mint Julep Day at the end of May, it not only capitalizes on the drink’s heightened popularity during the Kentucky Derby season but also coincides with the start of warmer weather in many parts of the United States, when a refreshing, iced drink like the mint julep is particularly appealing.

Who Invented National Mint Julep Day?

The specific individual or group that invented National Mint Julep Day is not clearly documented. Like many food and drink-themed commemorative days, it’s likely that this day was established by enthusiasts of the beverage, the spirits industry, or those involved in the hospitality sector as a way to celebrate and promote this iconic Southern cocktail.

Origins of the Mint Julep

The exact origins of the mint julep are shrouded in the mists of time, and like many classic cocktails, its history is a bit hazy. However, it is widely believed that the mint julep has its roots in the southern United States, particularly in the state of Kentucky.

The term “julep” itself has Middle Eastern origins, derived from the Arabic word “julāb,” which referred to a sweet, rosewater-scented drink. As it made its way to the Mediterranean and then to the American South, the drink evolved. Early versions of the julep included a combination of spirits, sugar, water, and fresh mint.

The transformation of the julep into the mint julep, with its distinctive use of fresh mint and bourbon, is often credited to Kentucky. The state’s abundant limestone-filtered water and the widespread cultivation of mint made it an ideal place for the drink to flourish. By the early 19th century, the mint julep was firmly established as a southern favorite.

The Mint Julep’s Role in Southern Culture

The mint julep is more than just a beverage; it’s a symbol of southern hospitality and leisurely living. Its association with the American South is so strong that it has become the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, one of the most famous horse races in the world.

At the Derby, the mint julep is not just a drink; it’s a tradition. It’s sipped from frosted silver or pewter cups filled with crushed ice and garnished with a sprig of fresh mint. The ceremony of preparing and enjoying a mint julep at the Kentucky Derby is a spectacle in itself, embodying the charm and elegance of southern culture.

Mint Juleps and the Kentucky Derby

The Mint Julep has been a staple of Southern United States culture for centuries. When the Kentucky Derby began in 1875, the Mint Julep was already a popular regional drink. Its association with the Derby started in earnest when Churchill Downs, the racetrack where the Kentucky Derby is held, began to officially promote their version of drink.

The Kentucky Derby is often referred to as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports,” but it is also a day filled with fashion, partying, and socializing. The Mint Julep contributes to the festive, celebratory atmosphere that surrounds the event.

Churchill Downs has elevated the Mint Julep to an iconic status over the years. The drink is served in special souvenir glasses, and each year, a new design is created for the Kentucky Derby, making them collectible items.

The Art of Crafting the Perfect Mint Julep

Making the perfect mint julep is an art form. While there are countless variations, the classic mint julep recipe calls for the following:


  • 2 1/2 oz bourbon
  • 8-10 fresh mint leaves, plus a sprig for garnish
  • 1/2 oz simple syrup (or to taste)
  • Crushed ice


  1. Place the mint leaves and simple syrup in the bottom of a julep cup or a rocks glass. Gently muddle the mint to release its flavor without tearing it.
  2. Fill the cup with crushed ice, packing it down.
  3. Pour the bourbon over the ice and give it a gentle stir to combine the flavors.
  4. Top with more crushed ice, forming a frosty mound that rises above the rim of the cup.
  5. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig, and serve with a short straw.

The key to a great mint julep is using fresh, aromatic mint, high-quality bourbon, and crushed ice that chills the drink to perfection. The result should be a frosty, fragrant, and slightly sweet cocktail that’s perfect for sipping on a warm day.

Variations on a Classic

While the classic mint julep recipe is the most iconic, there are many delightful variations to explore. Some replace bourbon with other spirits like rum or gin, while others infuse the julep with additional flavors like peach, blackberry, or lavender. These creative adaptations add a new dimension to the traditional mint julep, making it a versatile cocktail for any occasion.

The Mint Julep in Pop Culture

The mint julep’s status as a symbol of southern elegance has not gone unnoticed by popular culture. It frequently makes appearances in literature, film, and music, further solidifying its place in the American imagination.

In F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby,” characters enjoy mint juleps as they navigate the glittering excesses of the Jazz Age. The novel captures the allure of the drink and its association with high society.

In film, the mint julep often appears in scenes set in the American South. Its presence onscreen reinforces the idea of southern hospitality and charm. Notable films like “Gone with the Wind” and “The Help” feature characters sipping mint juleps on spacious verandas.

The mint julep has also found its way into the world of music. From classic jazz to country ballads, songs have celebrated the allure of this iconic drink. One of the most famous musical odes to the mint julep the song “One Mint Julep” by The Clovers. Originally released in 1952, “One Mint Julep” was a rhythm and blues hit for The Clovers. The song is a playful account of the consequences of indulging in just one too many mint juleps. Its lyrics whimsically describe how the narrator ends up married after having one too many of the titular drink, highlighting both the potent effects of the cocktail and the convivial atmosphere it’s often enjoyed in.

Celebrating National Mint Julep Day

National Mint Julep Day offers a perfect opportunity to celebrate this beloved cocktail and its rich history. Here are some ways to mark the occasion:

  1. Host a Derby Party: Embrace the tradition of the Kentucky Derby by hosting a Derby-themed party. Encourage guests to wear their finest attire, serve mint juleps in classic silver cups, and even place bets on a horse race, whether real or virtual.
  2. Craft Your Perfect Julep: Experiment with different bourbons and variations of the mint julep. Invite friends over for a julep-making contest and see who can create the most delicious concoction. There are several recipes at the end of this post for you to try out.
  3. Visit a Southern-Style Restaurant: If you’re not up for making mint juleps at home, head to a southern-style restaurant known for its authentic mint juleps. Sip the drink alongside classic southern dishes like shrimp and grits or fried chicken.
  4. Learn About the Kentucky Derby: Take some time to learn about the history and traditions of the Kentucky Derby. Watch a race or a documentary about the event to immerse yourself in the world of horse racing and julep sipping.
  5. Share the Experience: Invite friends or family over for a leisurely afternoon on the porch, complete with mint juleps and good conversation. Encourage everyone to bring their favorite book or board game for a relaxed gathering.

National Mint Julep Day is more than just an excuse to enjoy a refreshing cocktail; it’s a celebration of southern culture, hospitality, and the simple pleasures of life. The mint julep’s long history, cultural significance, and timeless appeal make it a symbol of elegance and relaxation.

As you sip on a perfectly crafted mint julep, take a moment to appreciate the traditions and stories that swirl within your glass. Whether you’re gathered at the Kentucky Derby, lounging on your porch, or toasting with friends, the mint julep has a way of making any moment feel special. So, raise your cup to National Mint Julep Day, and may it bring a touch of southern charm to your day.

Recipe Ideas for National Mint Julep Day

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