You had to know this was coming. I’ve been putting fun twists on classic Kentucky dishes these past few posts (here and here) in preparation for Derby, but what Derby party food round-up would be complete without a Mint Julep recipe? Now, while the name sounds fancy (granita! That’s fun to say!), the recipe is anything but. In fact, I’ve been referring to it as the lazy Mint Julep.
All the usual suspects appear in the ingredients list. Sugar, water, and mint for a mint simple syrup. Bourbon. More mint. These are all necessities for making this Derby cocktail. But the size of the ice served in a Mint Julep is super important as well. No big ice cubes allowed. Not even crushed ice from your fridge’s icemaker. We need super small pieces of ice here. So instead of pulling out my blender (which can barely handle the ice needed to make a smoothie…no Vitamix or BlendTec here) and spending the time and energy needed to (attempt to) produce small ice flecks, which no one wants to do every time someone wants a drink at a Derby party, I decided to throw everything together in a metal baking pan, freeze it, and then scrape away to get my own fancy Mint Julep shaved ice aka Mint Julep Granita.
What I really love about this is that you can make it the night before, leave it to freeze overnight, and then scrape away at it with a fork right before serving. It scrapes extremely easily thanks to the addition of alcohol, so there is no need to baby it and scrape it often like is required with other granita recipes. You’ll actually get to enjoy your Derby party without being stuck in the kitchen all day, meaning that you’ll have more time to spend looking at the horses and trying to figure out which to bet on, meaning that you’ll be more likely to win the big bucks…it’s a no-brainer, really!
Not only is this recipe super easy, but the results are just ridiculous, too. The mint totally shines through and is ultra refreshing, the ice size is just right, and the bourbon level is spot on. I tried this recipe a few different ways. Initially, I added way more bourbon. Like twice as much. Not only was it totally unnecessary, but the result was just more slushie-like than I was aiming for. I found this route to be just right, and my bourbon-loving in-laws agreed.
One more Derby party recipe coming your way soon! It’s another one that can be made in advance and contains chocolate. So much goodness there.
More Kentucky Derby Recipes:
- Hot Brown Bites
- Benedictine Tea Sandwiches
- Kentucky Derby Cookies
- Kentucky Bourbon Pecan Pie
- Chocolate Coconut Bourbon Truffles
- Bourbon Ball Cupcakes
Also, find Kentucky Derby Party hostess gift ideas here.
- 1½ cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup mint leaves, lightly packed
- 1½ cups water
- 1 batch mint syrup
- 10 mint leaves, finely chopped
- ½ cup bourbon
- Stir together water, sugar, and mint leaves in a small saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a steady boil. Boil, stirring frequently, until sugar has dissolved (about 1-2 minutes).
- Remove saucepan from heat and transfer syrup to a bowl. Let cool to room temperature. Cover and transfer to the refrigerator until syrup is chilled (about 1 hour), leaving mint leaves in syrup while chilling.
- Strain mint leaves from syrup using a fine mesh strainer. Press mint leaves against strainer using the back of a spoon to release oils and excess syrup.
- Combine strained syrup, additional water, bourbon, and finely chopped mint leaves to a medium mixing bowl and stir to combine.
- Transfer to a metal 9” x 9” baking dish. Freeze 6-8 hours. Scrape granita in different directions with fork. Spoon into dessert dishes, martini glasses, or silver Mint Julep cups. Serve garnished with mint sprigs, if desired. Enjoy!