The weather is lovely outside, and while the Kentucky Derby is not happening this year, you should still make time to savor the refreshing sweetness of this easy mint julip mocktail.
Mint julep is the traditional beverage at Churchill Downs Racetrack. A quick search shows that over the two days of horse racing, spectators drink over 120,000 servings which require over 60,000 pounds of crushed ice and 1000 pounds of mint! While the mint juleps there feature bourbon, this recipe plays up the flavors of lime and mint without the alcohol.
Many mixed drinks rely on a simple syrup, which is a mixture of equal parts water and sugar heated until the sugar dissolves and then is cooled and used to offset the alcohol.
You can infuse a simple syrup with different herbs and have the base for cocktails or mocktails ready for mixing up a drink anytime. For all you barbeque lovers out there you can even prepare the simple syrup on your smoker and infuse the mixture with the smoky flavor of whatever wood you are using.
Sugars Used in Simple Syrups
White granulated sugar is traditionally used to make a simple syrup. However, raw sugar, also called turbinado or demerara sugar, can be substituted. It is made when boiling down the juice from sugar cane is made into granules before the processes that remove the trace molasses residue and other impurities.
Although it may look like brown sugar it is much mellower in taste. Do not substitute raw sugar in baking for either light or dark brown sugar since it does not cook up the same way.
But when used to make simple syrup it results in a slightly colored liquid and has some flavor undertones that are lovely in this mocktail.
What is a Rich Simple Syrup
You can also make a rich simple syrup by increasing the sugar ratio to 2 parts sugar to one part water which makes a much more syrup-like liquid than the 1:1 simple syrup. The thicker syrup is twice as sweet but doesn’t double the flavor of whatever herb you are infusing so it allows just a trace of that flavor to peek through.
Because you would use less rich simple syrup to get the same sweetness than regular simple syrup. As you are experimenting with drinks, being able to introduce an herbal accent and control the sweetness is an “ah-ha” moment.
How to Make Mint Simple Syrup for this Easy Mint Julep Mocktail
To make simple syrup: combine 1 cup sugar with 1 cup water in a saucepan over medium heat. When the mixture comes to a boil, and all the sugar is dissolved, add 1 cup fresh mint leaves to the liquid and remove from heat. Let the leaves soak in the mixture until the syrup is completely cool. Strain the wilted leaves from the syrup and transfer the simple syrup in a sealed labeled container. It is ready to use or may be stored in the refrigerator for up to three weeks. This will make about 1-1/2 cups mint simple syrup.
Once this step is completed, this mint julep mocktail comes together in a flash.Print
A light but oh so refreshing mocktail with a kiss of mint.
1 cup raw sugar (it may be labeled turbinado or demerara sugar)
1 cup of water
1 cup fresh mint leaves (2 bunches)
4 tablespoons lime juice (2 limes)
3 tablespoons lemon juice (1 lemon)
2 liters grapefruit soda
Lime slices for garnish
Mint leaves for garnish
- In a medium saucepan, add 1 cup raw sugar to 1 cup water and stir to combine over medium-high heat.
- Once the mixture has come to a boil and the sugar has dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and add the mint leaves. Let sit for 60 minutes to cool. Strain out the leaves.
- Juice the lemon and limes and add juice to a pitcher.
- Add 1 cup mint-infused simple syrup to the pitcher.
- Just before serving add the grapefruit soda to the pitcher and stir to combine.
- Serve mint julep mocktail over ice and garnish glasses with a lime wedge and mint leaves.
Keywords: mint julep, virgin, mocktail