Whether you make it as a cocktail or a mocktail, this sparkling mint julep is a lovely drink for a celebration! Large hats optional.
Let’s believe in celebrations, darlings. Life brings so many challenges it’s easy to forget to celebrate, and yet celebrate we should. And we should wear large, decorative hats while sipping something sparkling, because why not? Whether it’s for a Derby party or just because, I’m loving this sparkling mint julep at the moment.
Mint juleps are traditionally associated with the Kentucky Derby I suppose, but I see them appear on menus around spring and stick around through summer, so they’ve always been a warm weather drink for me. Mint plants grow like crazy in warm weather, so that’s likely why.
Slightly unrelated gardening tip, don’t plant mint directly in the ground, use a container. Mint plants spread like crazy and will overrun your garden if planted directly in the ground. My current plant has been happily inhabiting its pot for 3 summers now.
If you’re unfamiliar with the mint julep recipe, it’s simply sugar muddled with mint, add bourbon, serve over ice. Which is fine, but what if you’re wanting to enjoy at brunch? Or perhaps you need a cocktail that can easily be a mocktail so all guests can enjoy a fancy drink? Enter the celebratory answer to fix everything easily… sparkling wine (or sparkling grape juice, whatever makes you happy).
Because muddling in a champagne flute is practically impossible, and unadvised, we needed a workaround. Cue the mint sugar cubes! It’s incredibly easy to make your own sugar cubes. You just pulse the sugar and mint together in a food processor, add a bit of water, shape, and wait for it to dry! You can use a cute little sugar cube mold like this, or go for a more “rustic” look and shape as I did in the video.The best part is that the mint sugar cubes can be made in advance and are delicious in tea too. 😉
I hope you enjoy!
Mint Sugar Cubes
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar, 100 g
- 5 whole mint leaves*
- 1-2 tsp water
For your julep
- sparkling wine or non-alcoholic juice
- fresh mint for garnish
To make the sugar cubes:
- Pulse together the sugar and mint leaves in a food processor. Pulse until mint leaves are finely diced and incorporated into the sugar.
- Place the mint sugar in a bowl and add 1 tsp water. Mix with a fork until the sugar looks like wet sand. Add a little more water if needed.
- Shape the sugar into molds or use a rectangle cookie cutter. Score the sugar block so it easily breaks into cubes later. Allow to dry 4 hours or overnight. When the sugar is completely dry, remove from the molds or break into cubes and store in an airtight container up to one week.
Assemble your sparkling mint juleps:
- Place one sugar cube in the bottom of each flute and top with sparkling wine or non-alcoholic sparkling juice. Garnish with a mint leaf and enjoy!
You may also use half a tsp mint extract instead of the fresh mint. Reduce the initial amount of water to 1/2 tsp.