I always struggle with hosting parties this time of year because there is a lot to celebrate! With Cinco de Mayo happening on the 5th and the Kentucky Derby Day (traditionally) occurring on the first Saturday in May, this year, that’s the 7th – as such, it is difficult to have two big garage bar parties back-to-back. For those of you who are hosting a Derby Party this year though I wanted to highlight a couple of Kentucky Derby drinks that you may want to consider as you walk around with some extra swagger in those fancy hats and dapper jackets.
The Mint Julep Recipe Easy
As far as Kentucky Derby drinks go, the mint julep is a requirement. In fact, it is the “official” drink of the derby – not having it would be like having a Cinco party and not having a margarita, that’s just unfathomable. Interesting fact, over 120,000 mint juleps are served on derby weekend.
How to Make a Mint Julep
Simple Syrup Prep. Mix equal parts water and sugar, and heat, stirring constantly until the sugar is dissolved into solution and the water is clear. Cool and refrigerate up to two weeks.
Bourbon Choice. It’s important to choose a quality bourbon for this drink, but tradition dictates you should be going with Woodford, which is always a solid pour.
Glassware. Traditionally these come in a silver cup; I use old fashioned glasses as that’s what I have. If you’re wanting the full experience, you can find the right glass here.
5 mint leaves
2 ounces simple syrup
Splash of cold water
2 ounces bourbon
Mint for garnish
Instructions. Add mint and simple syrup to the bottom of the serving glass. Muddle together. Top with crushed ice, then pour in water followed by bourbon. Stir, garnish and serve!!
Horse’s Neck Recipe
A super easy Kentucky Derby drink to make. This recipe is a perfect addition to your Derby celebration. The drink gets its name from the long-coiled lemon peel garnish that swirls inside the glass giving the drink its signature look.
How to Make a Horse’s Neck
Lemon Peel Garnish. Use a channel knife and work your way around the fruit from one end to the other to achieve a twist that is cut from the entire lemon. The goal is to cut the longest lemon spiral you can – and to be honest, this is something that takes practice, and you probably won’t get it the first time. Patience is a virtue! I like to make these up in advance and have on the ready in a plastic bag in the fridge.
Bourbon Choice. For this drink I’d recommend Buffalo Trace, it pairs quite lovely with the citrus component.
Glassware. Use a Collins Glass, available here.
2 ounces bourbon
3 to 5 ounces of ginger ale
2 to 3 dashes of bitters
Instructions. Hang the spiral of the lemon over the rim of the glass letting it dangle inside. Add ice and pour in the bourbon, topping with ginger ale. Add a few dashes of bitters and stir.
Bourbon Rickey Recipe
For those who find mint to be a bit off-putting, this is the drink that allows you to still have your bourbon whilst enjoying the Derby. This is a riff off the well-known Gin Rickey that combines bourbon, lime juice and sparkling water for a refreshing spin that’s sure to add a little somethin’ somethin’ to your event.
How to Make a Bourbon Rickey
Bourbon Choice. Here I’d recommend using Four Roses Single Barrel. The bourbon on this drink really shines through and Four Roses really provides a bit of gravitas that comes through nicely.
Glassware. Use a Highball Glass, available here.
1.5 ounces of bourbon
Half a lime, freshly squeezed
Instructions. Fill your highball glass with ice. Wash your lime, then squeeze it into the glass and then drop the whole half in. Add the bourbon, fill with sparkling water and stir to combine.
Know of other Kentucky Derby drinks you think should be in the running?
Share them with us in honor of Kentucky Derby Day. Hands down, my favorite is the Horse's Neck, but the other two give it a run for its money.
Celebrate Kentucky Derby Day with Bourboneur @thebourboneur.