Bright and refreshing, this Pineapple Mint Julep Sangria is inspired by the traditional Kentucky Derby cocktail. This easy sangria recipe features the signature bourbon and mint, plus fresh pineapple and crisp white wine. It’s the ideal big batch cocktail for watching the Kentucky Derby and entertaining all summer long!

Two pineapple sangrias

Easy Pineapple Sangria with Bourbon

I finally found a sangria that my husband and I can both agree on >>> this Pineapple Mint Julep Sangria!

This sangria recipe is a fun twist on the traditional mint julep cocktail served by the thousands at the Kentucky Derby race each spring. It features the signature bourbon and fresh mint, plus fresh pineapple and white wine. It’s lightly fruity and crisp, and just a bit boozy.

The really wonderful thing about sangria is that it’s served as a big batch cocktail, which is perfect for entertaining. Just mix up the drink in a pitcher earlier in the day and then pour it over glasses of ice when your guests arrive. It’s not only the perfect big batch drink for watching the horse race, but also a beautiful pitcher drink for all your summer gatherings!

A hand grabbing a pineapple sangria

What is Mint Julep?

Famous for being served in a frosty pewter cup, Mint Julep is a centuries-old tradition of the South. The bourbon cocktail is made with sugar and mint over crushed ice. Churchill Downs serves almost 120,000 of these sweet drinks over the two-day period of the Kentucky Oaks and the Kentucky Derby!

This pineapple sangria takes those basic ingredients – bourbon, mint, and sugar – and adds pineapple and crisp white wine for a lighter, less bourbon-y, ultra refreshing twist.

Mint Julep Sangria Ingredients

Make this fresh, easy sangria recipe with just a few ingredients!

For the Mint Simple Syrup:

  • Sugar & water – Boil together equal parts of sugar and water to create the simple syrup base.
  • Fresh mint sprigs – Rinse them well before using. These infuse the simple syrup with that delightful refreshing mint flavor.

For the Sangria:

  • White wine – Grab a bottle of light, crisp white wine like Pinot Grigio. Be sure to chill it first.
  • Fresh pineapple juice – I blitzed fresh pineapple in a blender and strained it for juice. You could also use a not-from-concentrate pineapple juice if you like.
  • Mint simple syrup – See above. Prepare this in advance and set it in the fridge to chill.
  • Bourbon – Any bourbon you enjoy will work.
  • Fresh pineapple chunks – Chop the pineapple into bites that are easy to eat, because you definitely do not want to leave these behind in your glass. The pineapple chunks absorb the flavors of the drink and are DELICIOUS!
  • Crushed ice – Serve this drink like a traditional mint julep, over crushed ice.
  • Garnishes – Fresh pineapple wedges and mint leaves or sprigs, if desired.  
Angled view of pineapple sangria with bourbon in glasses

What Alcohol Goes in Sangria?

Sangria is typically made with wine and liquor, though the type varies from recipe to recipe.

In this version, since we’re making a white sangria we’re using white wine. There’s no need to use an expensive bottle. Just grab a bottle of light, crisp white wine that you already like to drink. I think a Pinot Grigio is perfect for this sangria.

And it wouldn’t be mint julep-inspired without a splash of bourbon! Although Woodford Reserve is the Official Bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, it’s absolutely not a requirement to use this bourbon or any other top-shelf bourbon. Just use one that you like to drink.

Note: If bourbon isn’t your thing, sub in a different type of whiskey or even some rum instead. Or give my pineapple jalapeno margarita a try – another favorite pineapple cocktail!

Another Note: If bourbon IS your thing, be sure to check out my apple sangria with bourbon and thyme, this old fashioned bacon bourbon, and this fruity sangria with bourbon that features red wine!

Overhead view of mint simple syrup in a saucepan

How to Make Pineapple Mint Julep Sangria

I especially like sangria because it’s a big batch cocktail that feels extra special, and it can be made in advance – perfect for entertaining!

  • Make the simple syrup. Add the sugar to boiling water, whisking until dissolved. Add the mint sprigs and boil lightly for an additional minute. Remove from heat and let steep for 30 minutes. Discard the mint. Transfer to a container with a lid and refrigerate.
  • Make the sangria. Stir together the wine, pineapple juice, simple syrup, bourbon, and fresh pineapple in a large pitcher. Taste and adjust as necessary. Chill in the fridge until serving.
A pitcher of sangria being poured over crushed ice
  • Serve. Fill individual glasses with crushed ice and a fresh mint sprig. Pour the sangria over the ice and add a fresh pineapple wedge for garnish.
A pitcher of pineapple sangria

Tips for Success

Here are a few tips for making the most of this easy sangria recipe.

  • Use the freshest mint. Choose the best, freshest mint you can possibly find. Wilted mint or mint on the verge of going bad will not have the same refreshing flavor nor pretty look.
  • Make the simple syrup in advance. Chill the simple syrup completely before adding it to the sangria. I recommend making it several hours or even up to 2 days in advance.
  • Use chilled ingredients. Chill the wine, pineapple juice, and simple syrup before mixing – especially if you’re serving the sangria immediately.
  • Let the flavors mingle. For the smoothest flavor, prepare the drink in the pitcher 2 to 3 hours in advance, without any ice added. Then place the pitcher in the fridge to let the flavors mingle and to thoroughly chill.
Two pineapple sangrias

Serving Suggestions

While I like to use clear glasses when serving this mint julep-inspired drink, so you can see just how pretty this sangria is, you would typically serve traditional mint julep cocktails in pewter cups. These cups help keep the drink extra chilled by preventing the ice from melting so quickly.

Pineapple mint julep sangria is, obviously, perfect for enjoying while watching the Kentucky Derby from home, but in general it’s just a great drink for spring and summer. Think Mother’s Day, brunches, Easter, and summer BBQs.

Can I Make This in Advance?

This is the perfect make-ahead cocktail!

Prepare the mint simple syrup up to 2 days in advance. Keep it stored in a sealed, airtight jar in the fridge.

Stir together the pineapple sangria several hours in advance as well. I actually recommend this! This helps the flavors mingle, giving you a smoother overall cocktail. Plus it ensures that the drink is thoroughly chilled. Just don’t make it too far in advance, as you want all the flavors to be fresh when you serve it.

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Three pineapple mint julep sangrias garnished with a pineapple slice

Pineapple Mint Julep Sangria

Yield: 8 servings
prep time: 25 minutes
cook time: 5 minutes
total time: 30 minutes
Bright and refreshing, this Pineapple Mint Julep Sangria is inspired by the traditional Kentucky Derby cocktail. This easy sangria recipe features the signature bourbon and mint, plus fresh pineapple and crisp white wine. It's the ideal big batch cocktail for watching the Kentucky Derby and entertaining all summer long!
4.6 Stars (15 Reviews)
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Ingredients

for the mint simple syrup:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 6 to 8 fresh mint sprigs rinsed well

for the sangria:

  • 1 750 ml bottle light, crisp white wine, chilled (I used a Pinot Grigio)
  • 3 cups fresh pineapple juice chilled (I blitzed fresh pineapple chunks in a blender and strained it for juice, but you could also use a good not-from-concentrate pineapple juice)
  • 1 cup mint simple syrup chilled
  • 1 cup bourbon
  • 1 cup cubed fresh pineapple
  • crushed ice
  • fresh pineapple wedges and mint leaves for garnish

Instructions

  • For the mint simple syrup: In a medium saucepan, bring water to a boil over high heat. Add sugar and whisk until dissolved. Add mint sprigs and continue to softly boil for 1 minute. Remove from heat and let mint steep for 30 minutes. Remove mint and discard. Transfer mint simple syrup to a container with a lid and refrigerate. This can be made a day or two in advance of serving the sangria.
  • For the sangria: In a large pitcher, stir together the wine, pineapple juice, mint simple syrup, bourbon, and cubed fresh pineapple. Test for flavor and adjust to taste. Place in the refrigerator until ready to serve. This can be made several hours prior to serving. When ready to serve, fill individual glasses with crushed ice and fresh mint. Pour sangria over the ice. Add a fresh pineapple wedge for garnish.

Notes

from a farmgirl’s dabbles

Nutrition Information:

Serving: 1 Calories: 433kcal Carbohydrates: 91g Protein: 1g Fat: 1g Polyunsaturated Fat: 1g Sodium: 55mg Fiber: 2g Sugar: 74g
Nutrition information is automatically calculated by Spoonacular. I am not a nutritionist and cannot guarantee accuracy. If your health depends on nutrition information, please calculate again with your own favorite calculator.
Did you make this recipe?Please leave a comment below. And share a photo on Instagram with the hashtag #afarmgirlsdabbles or tag @farmgirlsdabble!
Three pineapple mint julep sangrias garnished with a pineapple slice

I originally published this post in 2014 and then updated it in 2022.