Cocktails of the Month: Margarita & Mint Julep

By: Sid Robinson

We’re bringing a new feature to the adult beverage section of In keeping with the season, we’ll give our recommendations for a monthly cocktail to try at home, complete with recipes.

There are two obvious choices for May. Rather than choose just one, we’ll go with both: the Margarita in honor of Cinco de Mayo and the Mint Julep to celebrate the annual running of the Kentucky Derby.


These recipes are guidelines and not the rules. Obviously we all have our own preferences and formulas. Like with most drinks, there are dozens of recipes. The point is that you should experiment and tweak cocktail recipes to your liking. Some ingredients can be substituted quite seamlessly.

For example, it’s common to replace simple syrup with fine sugar or a sugar cube. Trading out mixers or distilled spirits can also lead to exciting new discoveries. However, key to all good cocktails is the use of fresh ingredients. Forget the pre-packaged sour mixes, and stick to the real thing. You’ll be glad you did. And remember, always drink responsibly.



The Margarita is the consummate tequila cocktail and one of the most popular libations. There are a number of variations (strawberry, Cadillac, etc.), and the execution also varies (blended, rocks, salt, no-salt). Still, the Margarita is a classic. 


2 ounces silver Tequila
1 ounce Cointreau
¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice (or consider a blend of lime and lemon juices)
½ ounce simple syrup (I prefer Agave nectar)
Course salt
Lime wedge


Mix the tequila, Cointreau and lime juice in a shaker. Shake well and strain into a salt-rimmed Margarita glass (use coarse salt—never iodized salt—to rim the glass).


Mint Julep

The bourbon-based Mint Julep has always been associated with the Kentucky Derby, but its origins actually go back to 1793. Before the American Civil War, it was frequently made with French cognac and a rum float. Since then, however, it has been strictly a whiskey drink. Fittingly, it is most popular in bourbon country – Kentucky—and since 1938 more than 100,000 mint juleps are served at Churchill Downs each year during the Kentucky Derby weekend.


2 ½ ounces straight bourbon or rye whiskey
½ ounce simple syrup (or 2 teaspoons fine sugar)
2-4 sprigs of mint


Start by putting the simple syrup or the sugar and ½ ounce of water in a highball glass. Add mint leaves from 2-3 of the sprigs and muddle lightly. Add about half of the whiskey and fill the glass with crushed ice. Swirl until the glass begins to frost. Add more crushed ice and the rest of the whiskey. Stir again. Garnish with the remaining mint springs.


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Sid Robinson authors a blog, “Sips, Suds and Spirits” ( that examines the beverage industry. He is managing partner of the strategic communications and public relations firm Robinson and Associates, LLC. (