Bacon-infused Mint Juleps

It’s getting close to Kentucky Derby time, and that means Mint Juleps!  In case you don’t know, Mint Juleps are a major Kentucky Derby tradition. Each year the Kentucky Derby sells almost 120,000 mint juleps!  A properly made Julep is a wonderful thing, it cools, refreshes and packs a punch, all at the same time. 

I’m not one to let simple tradition stand in my way, and I wanted to take this recipe up a notch or two.  Hmm, what to do, what to do- Infuse the bourbon with bacon!  I made a version of these for a Smithfield Chef’s Table dinner at one of my restaurants, STEAK by Melissa, and it was a big hit.  Here’s a version for you to try!

About the simple syrup:

Traditionally, a Mint Julep is very simple- good bourbon, simple syrup, crushed ice and mint.  You have two options for the simple syrup.  I prefer to infuse mint into the simple syrup.  The other option is you can muddle the mint in the bottom of the glass.  I generally infuse it, so I’ll give you that recipe. If you prefer some “grass in the glass” just omit mint from the simple syrup recipe and bust out the muddler!

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Bacon-infused Mint Juleps

  • Total Time: 2 minutes


If you’re going to make this, go all the way and make sure you use a real Kentucky Bourbon. “Bourbon” is a whisky, aged in new, charred oak barrels and is made in Kentucky. All bourbons are whisky, but not all whisky is bourbon. Basil Hayden, Maker’s Mark or Buffalo Trace are among my favorites for juleps.


  • 1 750ml Bourbon
  • 4 slices bacon (rendered fat reserved)

Minted Simple Syrup

  • 2 Cups Water
  • 2 Cups Sugar
  • 23 bunches fresh mint


  1. Cook 4 slices bacon. I always use Smithfield Bacon, because to me it’s the “baconiest.”
  2. You’re not going to use the bacon, just the fat. So enjoy this well deserved treat!
  3. Pour bourbon into a quart mason jar (or any sealable container) and pour in reserved bacon fat. Let sit out for a minimum of 4 hours, shaking occasionally.
  4. Freeze it! Place in freezer for at least 4 hours, but overnight works better.
  5. Strain bourbon through a coffee filter, then pour back in the bottle.
  6. Fill a glass with crushed ice. Add 2 ounces infused bourbon, fill with simple syrup and garnish with mint leaf!

Minted Simple syrup

  1. Place 2 cups water on stove and heat over medium heat. Add 2 cups sugar and stir.
  2. Simmer and stir until sugar is fully dissolved and syrup is clear, about 5-6 minutes.
  3. Remove mint leaves, rinse and roughly chop. Remove syrup from heat, and add mint leaves. Allow to steep for 20-25 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Allow to cool, strain out mint leaves and pour into container. Will keep in fridge for 7 days. In addition to bourbon, this will really freshen up a nice glass of iced tea!
  • Prep Time: 2 minutes