Whiskey Julep | The Mint Julep Imposter – 1862 Recipe

Whiskey Julep Cocktail
Whiskey Julep Cocktail

The history of this mighty cocktail, and Juleps in general, goes way way WAY back to ancient Persia (modern day Iran). Rosewater was thought to have health benefits and the word for rosewater is gulab (gul=rose, ab=water). The word makes it way to the surrounding Arab culture and the word Julāb was used for any kind of sweetened medicinal syrup, kinda like robitussin. The word and associated sweetened medicine make their way through cultures and eventually make it to England as Julepum or Julep. In the 1750s a Julepum Stomachicum (a stomach julep to settle an upset tummy) is published in medical journals and calls for mint infused sweetener mixed with sherry. The stomach julep makes its way to the United States and takes a boozier pivot in New Orleans. And the rest is history.

This drink is a whiskey variation of the Mint Julep which came out of New Orleans. The original Mint Julep is a brandy cocktail and New Orleans was a French territory and you know that the French love their brandy.

The whiskey version is often called a Mint Julep today, but Mint Juleps were originally made with brandy. The mint julep, whiskey julep, gin julep, etc all existed at the same time but starting in the late 1800s people just started making the mint julep with whiskey instead.This change was further cemented by the Kentucky Derby which made their Mint Julep with Kentucky bourbon and the official cocktail of the race. Due to its association with the popular race most people think of the Mint Julep as a bourbon cocktail.

Like the Moscow Mule, these have their own cute little tin cups they traditionally go in called Julep cups. Look them up, they’re gorgeous. I talk like Fog horn leg horn and drink everything in them just to feel like a fancy southern gent.


Whiskey Julep | The Mint Julep Imposter – 1862 Recipe

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Course: DrinksCuisine: American






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Learn how to make a classic whiskey julep. Often mistaken for a mint julep, which traditionally uses brandy as its base, the whiskey julep is an amazing cocktail. This recipe dates from the 1862 edition of the Bartenders guide by Jerry Thomas.


  • 5

  • Mint Leaves
  • 1/2 oz

  • Simple Syrup
  • 2 oz

  • Bourbon
  • 2 dashes

  • Gold Rum


  • Add the simple syrup and mint to a tumbler glass.
  • Press the mint leaves into the syrup to infuse it with the mint’s flavor.
  • Fill the glass to the top with crushed ice. Pour the base spirit over the crushed ice into the serving glass.
  • Give the drink a couple turns to mix and dash the top with rum.

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