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Blackberry Mint Julep

Slightly sweet, fruity, and smooth, a Blackberry Mint Julep is a refreshing spin on the classic cocktail. Sip this drink while watching the Kentucky Derby, or serve at your next bbq or happy hour! 

blackberry mint julep in a silver cup on a metal gray next to a bunch of mint, fresh blackberries, and cocktail jigger

What Is a Mint Julep?

This blackberry bourbon mint julep is a fruity take on the classic mint julep cocktail. Generally speaking, a julep is any tall drink made with some sort of spirit or liquor and fresh mint leaves. 

If you’re unfamiliar with the mint julep, it’s a classic bourbon cocktail made with fresh mint, bourbon, and sugar and is served over crushed ice. 

Mint juleps are traditionally served in a silver or pewter cup and should be held by the rim or handle — this keeps the cocktail cold and frosty! 

The mint julep was first mentioned in print in 1803, but it became more popular when Kentucky Senator Henry Clay (allegedly) introduced the drink to Washington DC at the Round Robin Bar in 1850. 

In 1939, the mint julep became the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. Bourbon is most commonly produced in Kentucky, so it makes sense that the Derby’s official drink is made with the state’s favorite liquor! 

Tip: May 30th is National Mint Julep Day! 

close up photo of a blackberry bourbon cocktail for derby day - a blackberry mint julep garnished with fresh mint and blackberry

What Does a Blackberry Mint Julep Taste Like? 

A blackberry mint julep is similar to the classic cocktail — slightly sweet, smoky, and very smooth. The blackberry simple syrup adds additional sweetness and a hint of fruitiness that complements the freshness of the mint. 

When Should You Serve a Blackberry Mint Julep Cocktail? 

This is the perfect summer bourbon cocktail! It’s refreshing enough to sip on a hot day, and because it’s not too sweet it appeals to any bourbon lover. 

Try serving the blackberry mint julep at a Kentucky Derby viewing party, happy hour, a summer potluck or bbq, or when just when you’re relaxing on your back porch or patio. 

Tools Needed for This Cocktail 

This is a very simple bourbon cocktail to prepare, but having the following tools in your bar cart make assembling mint juleps quick and easy. 

  • Small Saucepan — To cook the blackberry simple syrup in. 
  • Measuring Cups — To measure the simple syrup ingredients. 
  • Fine Mesh Strainer — To strain the blackberry simple syrup.
  • Mason Jar — To store the simple syrup. 
  • Cocktail Mixing Glass — To muddle the blackberries and mint with the simple syrup. 
  • Cocktail Muddler — To muddle the fresh mint leaves and release their fragrant oil. 
  • Jigger — To measure the simple syrup and bourbon into the glass. 
  • Mint Julep Glasses — Mint Juleps are typically served in silver or pewter cups. You may also use an old fashioned glass (or any glass you have on hand!). 
  • Bar Spoon — A Mint Julep is always stirred, never shaken. 
blackberry mint julep ingredients on a grey background - fresh mint, bourbon, fresh blackberries, blackberry simple syrup, crushed ice

Ingredients in a Blackberry Mint Julep 

You need very few ingredients to make this fruit bourbon cocktail. I opted to make the blackberry simple syrup from scratch, but you may use a store-bought version if desired. 

  • Blackberry simple syrup (blackberries, sugar, water) 
  • Fresh blackberries
  • Fresh mint leaves
  • Crushed ice
  • Bourbon 

For the complete ingredient list and detailed instructions to make this bourbon mint cocktail, scroll to the bottom of this post for the FREE printable recipe card.

What Is Bourbon? 

Bourbon is a type of corn-based whiskey (legally it must contain at least 51% corn in the mash; the remaining grains are often rye, wheat, or barley).

For a whiskey to be labeled as bourbon, it must adhere to a few regulations: 

  • To be labeled as straight bourbon, it has to be aged for at least 2 years in new charred oak.  
  • Bourbon must be bottled at a minimum of 80 proof (40% ABV) and a maximum of 150 proof (75% ABV).
  • “Bourbon” can only be called such if made in the US 

Unlike other whiskies made around the world, bourbon is slightly sweeter in flavor. It’s characterized by its caramel and vanilla undertones.  

Many people mistakenly believe that bourbon whiskey has to be made in Kentucky to be labeled as bourbon, but technically it can be produced anywhere in the United States! (Although close to 95% of all bourbon is made in Kentucky!) 

woman showing how to make a blackberry mint julep recipe - adding blackberry simple syrup to a cocktail mixing glass

What’s the Best Bourbon for a Mint Julep? 

The mint julep is a very simple cocktail, so it’s important that you buy a bourbon of quality. 

Brands to look out for include Woodford Reserve, Wild Turkey, and Maker’s Mark. However, there are many bourbon brands in the US; go to your local liquor store and ask for recommendations if you’re unsure which bottle to buy! 

What Can Be Substituted for Bourbon? 

Whiskey would also work since bourbon is a type of whiskey. 

If you don’t like whiskey, try gin or vodka instead, noting that the flavor of the cocktail won’t be the same as the classic mint julep. 

photo of a step showing how to make a mint julep - adding fresh mint to blackberry syrup

How to Make a Blackberry Mint Julep 

A blackberry mint julep is quick and easy to make, although for speedy assembly I recommend making the blackberry simple syrup in advance. 

  1. Make the Blackberry Simple Syrup: In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water, and blackberries. Set the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. 
  2. Once simmering, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. 
  3. Turn heat off and let cool to room temperature. Strain into a jar using a fine mesh strainer and a funnel. 
  4. Making the Blackberry Mint Julep: In a cocktail making glass, muddle the mint with the blackberry syrup and fresh blackberries using a cocktail muddler. 
  5. Fill chilled cups with crushed ice and pour the blackberry mixture over top. Measure the bourbon and pour on top, then stir with a cocktail spoon until the cup frosts. 
  6. Add extra crushed ice on top so it is slightly mounded (if desired). Garnish with fresh blackberries and mint leaves. 

The above is simply a quick summary of this blackberry bourbon cocktail. Check out the full recipe in the free printable recipe card at the bottom of this post for all the detailed instructions.

woman adding fresh blackberries to a cocktail mixing glass containing ingredients in a mint julep

Blackberry Mint Julep Garnish Ideas 

I love garnishing this blackberry bourbon cocktail with fresh blackberries and mint sprigs. 

Tips for Making This Fruity Bourbon Cocktail 

  • Store the cup in the freezer – You want the cups super cold so the cocktail becomes frosty when stirred. 
  • Use crushed ice – Shaved ice or nugget ice (this is the nugget ice machine we have) works as well, but I don’t recommend using traditional iced ice cubes. Again, this cocktail should be ultra frosty and only crushed or shaved ice will create the proper effect.  
  • Buy quality alcohol — Your blackberry bourbon cocktail will only taste as good as the quality of ingredients, so avoid buying the cheapest bourbon if you can help it. A good quality bourbon will make all the difference! 
  • Use fresh mint only – Dried mint won’t release same delicate flavor, and it will likely overwhelm the smooth bourbon, to boot. 
  • Gently muddle the mint leaves – If you bruise them too much, they’ll become bitter. Lightly muddling them releases their fragrant oil but keeps them sweet and refreshing. 
  • Muddle the mint with the blackberry syrup – You want the oils released by the mint to infuse the liquid. If you muddle the mint by itself in the cup, the oils won’t all make it into the cocktail. 
woman muddling fresh blackberries with fresh mint and blackberry simple syrup for making mint juleps

Blackberry Mint Julep FAQs 

Have questions about how to make this summer bourbon cocktail? Here are the answers to a few commonly asked questions. Feel free to leave any other questions in the comments on this post and I’ll respond with answers! 

Is a mint julep shaken or stirred? 

A mint julep is always stirred.  

What type of glass is a mint julep served in? 

Serve your blackberry mint juleps in julep glasses, if you have any on hand.

Julep glasses are short and squat, and traditionally they’re made of silver or pewter, although stainless steel julep glasses are much more common these days! These are the mint julep glasses we have as shown in the photos. 

Place the julep glasses in the freezer to get them really cold before making the blackberry mint juleps. The cold metal becomes frosty with filled with crushed ice and the cocktail mixture. 

Tip: If you don’t have julep glasses, use whatever you do have! You’ll still want to chill the glasses before using, though. 

woman pouring bourbon into mint julep cups filled with crushed ice

Is this blackberry bourbon cocktail served over ice? 

Yes! Serve any mint julep cocktail over crushed ice

Can I use frozen blackberries? 

Yes! Frozen blackberries can be added straight to the saucepan when making the simple syrup. 

However, you’ll want to thaw the frozen blackberries before using them to garnish your cocktail. 

Can I use a different fruit a mint julep?

Yes, you may create your own version of this fruity bourbon summer cocktail using fresh strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, or even peaches. 

Can I use a different herb? 

As the name suggests, a mint julep is made with fresh mint. However, if you’re all out of mint, you can experiment by using fresh thyme, sage, or basil if you want instead. 

If at all possible, I wouldn’t omit the fresh herbs completely because the cocktail wouldn’t have the same depth without any herbaceous notes.

woman adding blackberry simple syrup to a julep cup with ice in it to make a blackberry bourbon cocktail

Can this be made as a mocktail? 

If you’re sober curious or don’t drink alcohol, you can use non-alcoholic alternatives to make this fruity bourbon cocktail. 

I have not tried making non-alcoholic blackberry mint juleps, but there are many alcohol-free bourbons on the market that you could use. A few options are: Spiritless, Ritual Zero Proof, Free Spirits, and Monday

You could also swap the bourbon for club soda or blackberry La Croix, noting that the finished drink will be more blackberry-forward in flavor. 

Safety tip: Note that depending on brand you use, some alcohol-removed spirits may still contain trace amounts of alcohol. Check before using, serving to kids, or drinking during pregnancy, etc. 

What to Serve with This Summer Bourbon Cocktail 

Whether you’re planning a Derby party or a summer bbq, try pairing your bourbon and blackberry simple syrup cocktail with one or more of the following: 

photo of kentucky derby cocktail recipe being served in mint julep cups with fresh blackberry mint garnish

Try This Blackberry Mint Julep Recipe! 

Next time you’re looking for a summery bourbon cocktail, give this blackberry mint julep recipe a try! 

Did you think it was the perfect drink for Derby day? Leave a comment below and give this blackberry cocktail a review for others to see what you thought of this cocktail.

On Instagram? Share your photo and tag me with @goodlifeeats and #goodlifeeatsrecipes. I’d love to see your photo of this blackberry bourbon cocktail.  

More Fruity Summer Cocktails: 

Blush pink in color and deliciously sweet-tart in flavor, the Floradora is the perfect gin cocktail for spring or summer. It’s a simple drink that uses just 4 ingredients, but the taste is showstopping!

Made with just three ingredients, this Strawberry Mimosa recipe is perfect for special occasion brunches, Valentine’s Day, or breakfast in bed! 

Pineapple, cilantro, and lime juice infuse this Pineapple Margarita with refreshing summer flavors. Make a small batch or prepare in a pitcher for parties! 

Strong, tart, and slightly sweet, a Mai Tai Cocktail is a classic rum cocktail that will transport you straight to the tropics! In this post, I’ll share how to make a mai tai completely from scratch as well as the best rum for mai tais, and so much more. 

Ditch the blender and make Piña Coladas on the Rocks instead. It’s the classic pineapple, coconut, and rum cocktail — just served over ice! 

two glasses of derby day cocktail ready to serve (blackberry bourbon mint juleps)

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silver julep cup with a blackberry mint julep served on crushed ice and garnished with fresh mint

Blackberry Mint Julep

Yield: 2 cocktails
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Slightly sweet, fruity, and smooth, a Blackberry Mint Julep is a refreshing spin on the classic cocktail. Sip this drink while watching the Kentucky Derby, or serve at your next bbq or happy hour! 


Blackberry Simple Syrup

  • 1/4 cup Granulated Sugar
  • 1/4 cup Water
  • 1/2 cup Fresh Blackberries

Mint Julep

  • 4 ounces Bourbon
  • 1 ounce Blackberry Simple Syrup
  • 8 - 10 Fresh Blackberries
  • 8 - 10 Fresh Mint Leaves
  • Crushed Ice


  • Fresh Blackberries, optional
  • Fresh Mint Sprigs, optional


    Prepare the Blackberry Simple Syrup

  1. In a small saucepan, combine sugar, water, and blackberries. Set the pan over medium heat and bring to a simmer. 
  2. Once simmering, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes. 
  3. Turn heat off and let cool to room temperature. Strain into a jar using a fine mesh strainer and a funnel. 
  4. Store refrigerated for up to 1 week.

Making the Blackberry Mint Julep

  1. Place the mint julep cups in the freezer to chill.
  2. In a cocktail making glass, muddle the mint with the blackberry syrup and fresh blackberries using a cocktail muddler or a wooden spoon. 
  3. Remove the cups from the freezer and fill with crushed ice.
  4. Measure the bourbon and pour 2 ounces of bourbon on top of the ice per glass, then pour the blackberry mixture over top, dividing between glasses (straining the seeds out if desired).
  5. Add extra crushed ice on top so it is slightly mounded (if desired).
  6. Garnish with fresh blackberries and mint leaves. 
  7. Serve immediately. 

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Nutrition Information
Yield 2 Serving Size 1
Amount Per Serving Calories 460Total Fat 1gSaturated Fat 0gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 0gCholesterol 0mgSodium 19mgCarbohydrates 83gFiber 6gSugar 77gProtein 2g offers recipe nutritional information as a courtesy. This provided information is an estimate only. This information comes from online calculators. Although makes every effort to provide accurate information, these figures are only estimates.

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