Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Tequila & Mezcal Cocktails

Blackberry Mint Julep Margarita

A silver julep cup is beaded with condensation. The cup holds a violet liquid, a pile of crushed ice, a sprig of mint, and two blackberries pierced on a silver pick. The drink sits on a tan surface with a bright yellow wall behind it.
Image:

 Liquor.com / Tim Nusog

The Mint Julep and the Margarita are two springtime drinks that are inextricably linked with holidays in the early part of May—the Kentucky Derby is held on the first Saturday of May, while Cinco de Mayo is, naturally, the fifth of May. At times this means that the two holidays fall on the same day, or at least the same weekend, which leads to the occasional two-in-one holiday. Often it gets nicknamed Derby de Mayo or Cinco de Derby.

While it’s not an officially recognized holiday, it is a fun excuse to imbibe some drinks and watch some horse races. However, the question becomes: which drink do you indulge in? Frosty silver cups filled with crushed ice, bourbon and mint? Or a glass filled with tequila, triple sec and lime? With the Blackberry Mint Julep Margarita, from tequila expert Gaston Martinez, you can enjoy both drinks at once, with delicious results.

There are a couple of key elements to this drink, and the primary one is the use of crushed ice. This allows it to slowly melt and dilute over time, mellowing as it goes. Another is the choice of tequila — while you would generally use a blanco or silver tequila in a Margarita, an aged variety more closely resembles the bourbon that you traditionally use in a Mint Julep. Using honey syrup rather than simple syrup also brings it closer to a traditional julep, with bourbon ordinarily lending it notes of honey.

Using a stainless steel or, if possible, silver Julep cup is the best for this drink, allowing it to form beautiful crystals of ice on the exterior. Furthermore, the wide mouth of the cup allows for more ice to be packed in like a snow cone. However it is far from necessary—if you can’t get your hands on a traditional metal Julep cup, a highball or Collins glass fills in fine. After all, that’s what Churchill Downs, the home of the Kentucky Derby, serves its Juleps in, so it’s hard to impugn.

And while the Blackberry Mint Julep Margarita is especially appropriate for early May, there’s nothing keeping you from enjoying it at anytime of the year, so long as you can find fresh mint and berries.

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Ingredients

  • 5 blackberries
  • 6 mint leaves
  • 1 ounce honey syrup
  • 2 ounces añejo tequila
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • Garnish: 2 blackberries
  • Garnish: mint sprig

Steps

  1. Add blackberries, mint leaves and honey syrup to a cocktail shaker and gently muddle.

  2. Add tequila, lime juice and ice and shake until well-chilled.

  3. Strain into a Julep cup over crushed ice.

  4. Garnish with 2 speared blackberries and a mint sprig.