Mint Juleps and Beyond: Cocktail Choices for The Kentucky Derby


The Run For The Roses is best appreciated with proper potable preparations

In the midst of a jammed weekend with Cinco De Mayo, and today being Star Wars Day as well, we’ll expand on the revelry with the 145th Kentucky Derby. Most of Saturday will be filled with undercard races, with the main event going off just after 6:00 EST.


This year is looking to be tough to call with one of the most competitive fields, and bad weather making track conditions a major factor. Eight horses currently stand with 15-1, or better odds, and a lot of talent sits at the top. Adding to the mystery is the original favorite — Omaha Beach — is scratched, opening up the field

Hall Of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has three horses in the lineup, including new favorite Game Winner. His other two are Improbable, and Roadster, and each of them could trip the wire. Their odds are 9-2, 5-1, and 6-1 respectively, with Game winner starting wider in the 16th post, while Improbable goes off from the fifth position. I am also watching Maximum Security, winner of the Florida Derby leaving from the middle in the 7th post position.

Now, onward to the important stuff. Yes, Mint Juleps rule the day here. They are THE perfect marriage of Louisville products — horses, and bourbon. So if you have a crowd over and most want to indulge, some prep work will save you time and you can still catch the race. First bit of advice: make up some simple syrup ahead of time.

  • Simple Syrup: 2 Parts sugar to 1 Part water, measured to how much is needed. Boil the water, add sugar until fully dissolved, turn down heat to low for 10 minutes. Take off heat and allow to cool, pour into dispenser of choice.

Next, have your drink station ready to go with glassware, barware, and ingredients at the ready. Also, crush a large batch of ice ahead of time. Just a bit of planning and you can rush these out with ease.

              MINT JULEP

   (in rocks glass, or metal mug)

  • Splash bourbon, add 2-3 mint leaves. Muddle
  • Fill with crushed ice
  • 2oz Bourbon (or more to taste) Bulleit, or better preferred
  • Teaspoon simple syrup

Shake briefly, garnish with sprig of mint


If you have a crowd desiring some drink variations then there are a number of other bourbon-based cocktails that fit the bill nicely. Knowing your crowd, and preparing of course is key here.


             KENTUCKY MULE

The copper cups are not required, but of course use ‘em if you got ‘em

(in mule mug, filled with crushed ice)

  • 1.5oz Bourbon
  • Juice from ½ lime (do NOT use Roses lime juice)
  • Fill with ginger beer

Garnish with sprig of mint


             THE BOURBON LIFT

This is frothy and disappears rather quickly

(in a shaker with ice)

  • 1.5oz Bourbon
  • 1oz Heavy Cream
  • 1/2 oz coffee liquor
  • 1/2oz Almond Orgeat (if unavailable, Amaretto an acceptable replacement)

Shake well for 15 seconds, strain into Collins glass. Fill with club soda (Slowly pour club soda from a few inches. This will “lift” a foamy head)




            BOURBON SMASH

This is a more potable variation of a Julep

(in shaker with light ice)

  • Muddle 2 mint leaves, and a full wheel of orange pulp (save rind)
  • 2oz Bourbon
  • Teaspoon simple syrup

(shake ingredients well, double strain over ice. Splash lime soda. Garnish with orange peel, sprig of mint)


           JOCKEY CLUB

If you have old school drinkers, go with this thoroughbred-acceptable Manhattan variant

(in shaker with ice)

  • 2oz Bourbon
  • 1/2oz Sweet Vermouth
  • Splash Maraschino Liquor

(shake well, strain over maraschino cherry in a chilled martini glass)

Be sure to modulate the crowd for the post time, as it could be easy to get too full of revelry before the fastest two minutes in sports.

** for more entertainment, political, or bad movie content follow me on Twitter @MartiniShark



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