Mint Juleps and Beyond: Cocktail Choices for The Kentucky Derby

(AP Photo/Morry Gash)
AP featured image
 (AP Photo/Morry Gash)


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

Most of Saturday will be filled with undercard races, with the main event going off just after 7:00 EST.


The coronavirus has thrown the entire racing schedule into a state of flux. The Triple Crown has been affected like so much else. No crowds will be on-site and even more luster has been sapped as today’s race is rescheduled and now stands as the second leg of the Crown.

The Belmont Stakes was held back in June, and that race experienced significant alterations. After being moved back by 2 weeks, and then the decision was made to shorten the course. Normally, the last leg in the Triple Crown is also the longest, but due to the severely altered racing calendar, the decision was made to truncate the length, from the normal 1.5-mile distance down to a 1-1/8 mile.

The winner of The Belmont, the undefeated Tiz The Law is the heavy favorite today, expected to go off with negative odds, holding currently at 3-5. His primary challenger was going to be Art Collector but the horse was announced as a Scratch this week. The remaining competition looks to come from Honor A.P., and the Bob Baffert trained Authentic. In a curiosity the top three favorites drew the three outside post positions.

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: Equal parts sugar to 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)


Mint Juleps and Beyond: Cocktail Choices for The Kentucky Derby


            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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