These Non-Alcoholic Strawberry Mint Julep Mocktails are great for a Kentucky Derby party with kids or make the perfect drink for a sunny summer barbecue.
Updated from the archives.
I know mint juleps are the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, but when I think of juleps, I *always* think of Disneyland mint juleps. They’re one of our favorite Disneyland treats, and it just wouldn’t feel like a visit was complete until we sip a mint julep mocktail in the shade while we listen to a jazz band in New Orleans Square. Every flavor we’ve ever tried has been delicious. It’s the BEST.
Now that Disneyland has announced their reopening (and the Kentucky Derby is right around the corner), I thought it was the perfect time to re-visit our recipe for Strawberry Mint Julep Mocktails. This non-alcoholic mint julep recipe has fresh, crisp flavor that’s so refreshing on a hot day.
It’s a delightful Disneyland mint julep copycat recipe that’s equally at home at a Kentucky Derby party with kids, or a summer barbecue.
If you’ve never had a virgin mint julep, you are in for a real treat! The fresh strawberries and the ice, the sparkly fizz, and the brightness from the fresh mint are SO lovely together. Our strawberry mint julep mocktail isn’t too sweet and isn’t too minty. It’s just the perfect blend of fresh flavor and bright color that makes any occasion feel a little more special.
Here’s all you need to get started on this delicious strawberry mint julep mocktail recipe…
WHAT’S IN A TRADITIONAL MINT JULEP?
Juleps themselves are actually a category of drink served over crushed ice, rather than a single drink in particular. The most famous julep is probably the Mint Julep. Traditional mint juleps are made from bourbon, sugar/simple syrup, mint, and crushed ice. Mint juleps are also ideally/traditionally served in a silver or pewter julep glass that you hold at the bottom. (You want the whole glass to get that glorious frosty condensation on the outside, which can help cool you off on a hot day!)
Since we’re making virgin mint juleps today, our ingredient list will look a little different. Here’s what you need to make a strawberry mint julep mocktail…
HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED TO MAKE A VIRGIN MINT JULEP:
- Mint Simple Syrup. To sweeten the drink and help carry the flavors of the mint and strawberries, you’ll use a bit of mint simple syrup. Mint simple syrup is made from water, sugar (or agave), and fresh mint. Easy-peasy.
- Fresh Mint. A little fresh mint is the foundation a good virgin mint julep. You’ll use it in two ways. First, you’ll use lots of fresh mint to create a mint simple syrup. Then, you’ll muddle a little mint in the bottom of your glass to release all the essential oils. This will add flavor to every sip and will smell AMAZING!
- Ripe Strawberries. If you’re turning your virgin mint julep into a strawberry mint julep mocktail, you’ll need a few ripe strawberries. They’ll add some freshness, color, and sweetness that’s tough to beat! (If you’d rather go for a regular mint julep mocktail, just skip the strawberries.)
- Crushed Ice. Crushed ice is crucial for a mint julep! It’ll cool down the drink quickly and give you that glorious frosty glass you’re looking for. I usually just put our ice in a bag and bash it around a bit to crush it.
- Limeade or Lemonade. We modeled our virgin mint julep recipe after the Disneyland mint juleps, so we swap bourbon for lemonade or limeade. My favorite is limeade–the flavors are SO lovely with mint and strawberries!
- Sparkling Water. Then, to keep the drink from getting too sweet (and to add a few bubbles), you’ll top off your glass with some sparkling water (sometimes labeled club soda).
HOW TO MAKE A VIRGIN MINT JULEP, STEP-BY-STEP
Now that you’ve gathered your ingredients, you’re ready to make a mint julep mocktail! The first step is to create a mint simple syrup (mint infused into the sugar/water mixture), then you’ll assemble your drink. Here’s how I make a virgin mint julep, step-by-step:
- Prepare simple syrup, if needed. You’ll simply heat sugar + water (or agave + water) until a solution forms and no sugar crystals remain. Add fresh mint and steep 15 minutes. Strain out the mint and cool the syrup completely.
- Add simple syrup + fresh strawberries to the bottom of your glass and muddle. Add the strawberries and some simple syrup to the bottom of your glass and use a muddler (or the back of a sturdy spoon) to mash the strawberries. It’s okay if there are big and small pieces. This adds to the charm!
- Muddle the mint. Then, you’ll add the fresh mint to your glass and muddle by smashing just 3-4 times to release the natural essential oils of the mint. It should smell fresh and fragrant. Note that you DON’T want to smash the mint to a pulp or it can turn bitter.
- Add ice until the glass is about 3/4 of the way full. Crushed ice is best. You can use pebble ice in a pinch. Otherwise, just put a little ice in a bag and give it a good bash or two to break up the ice cubes.
- Add a little limeade or lemonade. I love how the citrus works with the strawberries and mint. It’s lovely!
- Fill the remainder of the glass with water or sparkling water. Then, it’s time to fill the cup up the rest of the way with water or sparkling water. I love the subtle bubbles of sparkling water!
- Stir until your glass is frosty + sip! Use a straw or drink stirrer to blend your julep until the glass is frosty. Then, sip away!
FAQ + TIPS AND TRICKS FOR THE BEST VIRGIN STRAWBERRY MINT JULEPS:
WHAT KIND OF MINT DO YOU PUT IN MINT JULEPS? Spearmint is considered the go-to mint variety for mint juleps. (It’s also what you’re most likely to find in grocery stores in the U.S.)
WHAT KIND OF GLASS DO YOU USE FOR MINT JULEPS? Mint juleps are traditionally served in a pewter or silver mint julep cup, but glass julep cups, tall old-fashioned glasses, and collins glasses also work! (The ones I used for these photos are 12 oz.)
HOW LONG DOES MINT SIMPLE SYRUP STAY FRESH? Simple syrup will easily stay fresh about 1 week.
OTHER WAYS TO USE MINT SIMPLE SYRUP. You can certainly make a half batch of mint simple syrup if you’re nervous you won’t be able to use it all, but I love using it in all kinds of ways. It’s a GREAT way to sweeten herbal tea, and it can be stirred into all kinds of drinks from juice and mocktails to sparkling water.
CAN I USE AGAVE INSTEAD OF SUGAR IN SIMPLE SYRUP? Yes! To make agave simple syrup, you’ll use 1 cup agave instead of sugar with equal parts water. (For every 1 cup agave, you use 1 cup water.)
CAN I USE HONEY INSTEAD OF AGAVE? I wouldn’t recommend it. Honey tends to be stronger in flavor and can overpower the drink. I’d stick with agave or simple syrup for virgin mint juleps.
PS – Wondering “what is a mocktail“? This post answers it all!
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