The Best Julep Cups

If you’re planning a Kentucky Derby party, you’ll need a set of the best julep cups to serve up classic mint juleps! These pretty metal cups keep these cocktails ice-cold and come in several shapes, sizes and colors.

a mint julep mocktail on a white background

Mint juleps are the pinnacle of spring.

While the Kentucky Derby is the perfect time to sip on one, there doesn’t need to be a horse race to enjoy these delicious spring cocktails.

Below we’ll get into everything you need to know about mint juleps and the glassware you’ll need at Derby time.

Stock your bar with julep cups before the Derby and enjoy them on special occasions throughout the year. These would be the perfect gift for a birthday for anyone who loves whiskey!

What is a mint julep?

The mint julep is a classic cocktail made with bourbon whiskey, sugar and fresh mint leaves.

Traditionally served in a silver julep cup, the drink is prepared using a muddler to combine sugar and mint, releasing the essential oils from the leaves. Bourbon is poured on top, then the cup is stuffed with crushed ice, almost like a snow cone.

A great shortcut for mint juleps is making a mint simple syrup that takes away the work of muddling.

You can make a virgin mint julep by using a zero-proof spirit such as Ritual whiskey alternative.

a julep cocktail with a mint leaf garnish next to a bottle of whiskey

What is a julep cup?

The traditional glassware for a mint julep cocktail is called a julep cup. The julep vessel can come in silver, pewter or stainless steel.

Usually silver in color, the metal glassware helps to keep the drinks ice cold, much like a copper mug does for a Moscow mule cocktail. The cup is what makes these cocktails perfect for hot summer days.

With crushed ice inside, the chilly temperature will last as long as it takes to sip the drink. You are meant to hold the cup by the base of the glass, so that a thick frost will coat the cup.

However, juleps don’t have to be served in a traditional julep cup. You can use a rocks glass or Collins glass.

In fact, the collectible mint julep glasses sold at the Kentucky Derby are made of glass. Minted each year of the Derby, they feature a colorful illustration of the famous horse race.

Below you’ll find the best mint julep cups you can buy, but before we get into it, here are some mint julep cocktails you can make.

Basil plant in terra cotta pot alongside a julep cup garnished with basil leaves

Mint julep recipes

The mint julep is a classic cocktail all on its own, but it’s also a fun drink to experiment with other flavors. Try one of these variations:

You can also enjoy some of these Kentucky Derby cocktails instead of (or in addition to!) the mint julep.

In fact, there’s a drink for all three races in the Triple Crown. The Belmont Jewel is the drink for the Belmont Stakes and the Black-Eyed Susan is enjoyed at the Preakness Stakes.

Making mint julep jello shots? Check out this post on the best jello shot cups to use.

The best julep cups

These mint julep cups would be the perfect addition to your bar cart or glassware collection. When not throwing a Derby party, you could use them as flower vases (although do check the proper care of each piece of glassware, as some materials may not take well to standing water).

How to clean julep cups

Depending on the material of your julep cups, there are a few ways to clean your julep cups. Be sure to wash them soon after your party.

Gold- or silver-plated cups: Hunker says to take extra care so as not to damage or chip the silver plating. Clean with a mild soap and remove any tarnish with baking soda.

Copper cups: Wash them with a mild dish soap and a sponge, then rinse and dry. This tutorial on cleaning copper mugs explains how to remove tarnish with salt and lemons.

Stainless steel cups: Wash in soapy water, then rinse and dry. These are the best julep cups for regular use.

Pewter cups: Use warm water and mild dishwashing soap to gently remove dirt from pewter cups, then rinse and dry.

The Golden Ratio Guide:

Mix the perfect cocktail, every time

Reader Interactions

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Sharing is Caring

Help spread the word. You're awesome for doing it!