A few weeks ago I was at the Frecon Farms (from Boyertown, PA) stand at the Growing Roots’ Farmers Market in Malvern, PA drooling over all of their amazing fresh fruit. Lisa O’Neill (the mastermind behind Growing Roots) was helping out at the stand (as she so often does) while spouting out recipes – one of which was her take on a traditional mint julep. You just never know where you’ll find inspiration for your next cocktail.

Lisa likes to add tart cherries to a mint julep. The only additional work is pitting the cherries as you can muddle the mint and cherries at the same time.  Lisa prefers to use sour (tart) cherries. I opted for the sweet cherries as I knew there would be a few leftover that Ed and I would eating.  

While I’m sure you could add a Maraschino cherry to a mint julep and muddle it, it wouldn’t be the same. This drink is meant to capture that fresh, ripe cherry flavor along with some good fresh mint (hopefully from your garden?).

I highly recommend investing in a simple cherry pitter (often billed as a cherry and olive pitter) if you do not already have one. It makes what can be somewhat of a tedious task easier and you tend to get more of the fruit off of the pit. Be careful when pitting cherries at this time of year as they are especially juicy and tend to splatter.

Gluten-Free/Wheat-Free Options: While the ingredients used to make bourbon contain gluten many believe that the distillation process removes the gluten. As a result some with gluten sensitivities are okay with bourbon while others are not. If you’re concerned use a gold rum (distilled from sugar cane and gluten-free) in place of bourbon. Rum and fruit always go well together.

Fresh Cherry Mint Julep

Fresh Cherry Mint Julep
Recipe type: Drink
Serves: 1
  • 1 ounce simple syrup (see Notes)
  • 8 fresh mint leaves, plus a sprig for garnish
  • 4 fresh cherries, pitted and sliced in half
  • 2 ounces high-quality bourbon
  1. Place simple syrup, mint and cherries in an old fashioned (or rocks) glass.
  2. Using a wooden muddler or back of a wooden spoon, muddle the syrup, mint and cherries together to form a good syrup.
  3. Fill cup with small ice cubes or shaved ice.
  4. Poor in bourbon.
  5. Mix all ingredients with a spoon.
  6. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a cherry.
1 cup (8 ounces) water
1 cup granulated sugar
Bring the water to a simmer in a saucepan set over medium-high heat. Add the sugar and stir until it completely dissolves. Remove the pan from the heat. Set aside to cool to room temperature. Pour the syrup into a clean 1-pint bottle, cap it and refrigerate it until needed. Makes 1½ cups and keeps two months or longer in the refrigerator.


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2017-07-19T11:46:49+00:00 July 18th, 2017|Categories: Drinks|Tags: , , , , , , , |2 Comments


  1. GPT July 18, 2017 at 11:46 pm - Reply

    Two questions: Can you use raw sugar for the simple syrup and do you have any tips for how to pit the cherries without making a mess?

    • Nicole July 19, 2017 at 11:44 am - Reply

      GPT – You can absolutely use raw sugar for simple syrup – same 1:1 ratio. Check out the notes in Caribbean Old Fashioned for a recipe (not that you really need it, but I also think you’ll like this recipe). Great question on how to pit cherries. Procuring as simple cherry pitter is your best bet. This one from OXO looks good. It also pits olives. I must have mine for a long time as I don’t see it anywhere on the internet. We visited a friend recently who was using one similar to the OXO one – she had gotten her pitter at the local hardware store.

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