The Mint Julep and the Margarita are two springtime drinks that are inextricably linked with US 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 not an officially recognized holiday, the confluence is a fun excuse to drink some drinks and watch some horse races. However, the question then 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 for slow melting and dilution over time, mellowing the cocktail as it goes. Another is the choice of tequila. Though 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. Employing honey syrup rather than simple syrup also brings the drink closer to a traditional julep, with bourbon ordinarily lending notes of honey.
Using a stainless steel or, if possible, silver Julep cup is the best approach for this drink, allowing the vessel 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. Those glasses are 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 ideal for early May, there’s nothing keeping you from enjoying it anytime of the year, as long as you can find fresh mint and berries.
Click Play to See This Blackberry Mint Julep Margarita Come Together
- 5 blackberries
- 6 mint leaves
- 1 ounce honey syrup
- 2 ounces añejo tequila
- 1 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
- Garnish: 2 blackberries
- Garnish: mint sprig
Add the blackberries, mint leaves and honey syrup into a cocktail shaker and gently muddle.
Add tequila, lime juice and ice and shake until well-chilled.
Strain into a Julep cup filled with crushed ice.
Garnish with 2 speared blackberries and a mint sprig.