Kentucky Cocktails: Derby Drinks You Have to Try
By Anastasia Austen, Senior Writer
Posted: 8/31/2015

The Kentucky Derby is not only a horse race; it is a fun adventure and celebration!


Lucky Louisvillians start the party early and kick off celebrating “Derby Week” with several fun events, typically featuring an abundance of Southern hospitality and lots of cocktails. It’s no secret that people in Kentucky love to drink Bourbon, so it is best to familiarize yourself with the most popular Kentucky Derby drinks.


While enjoying the tradition of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby races, we invite you to also try these two delicious local favorites and immerse yourself into the unique offerings available to you during Derby Week.


Be sure to familiarize yourself with these famous Kentucky cocktails— The Mint Julep and the Old Fashioned.


We have all heard of a Mint Julep, but what exactly is in it? How is it made? Read on for this traditional recipe:

• Fresh Mint Springs & Stems
• 1 teaspoon Sugar
• 3 ounces Bourbon
• Old-fashioned glass or Traditional Silver Cup

Place 5 or 6 leaves of mint in the bottom of a pre-chilled, dry glass or shaker. Add sugar and crush slightly with a muddler. Pack glass with finely cracked ice, not cubes. Pour a generous 3 ounces of Kentucky Bourbon over the ice.

Stir briskly until the glass frosts. Add more ice and stir again before serving. Stick a few sprigs of mint into the ice, pinching the stalks first to add flavor and aroma.

Enjoy— but be warned that this is a very, very strong drink! Served at the Kentucky Derby in a collectable glass you can keep forever, this is the most popular cocktail at the track.


The “Old Fashioned” Cocktail
Louisville is the birthplace of the Bourbon Old Fashioned! Legend has it the “Old Fashioned” cocktail was invented at the Pendennis Club (a private club founded in 1881 in Louisville) by a bartender there in honor of Colonel James E. Pepper, a prominent Bourbon distiller. It went on to become an iconic drink of the ages (think Mad Men) and a classic drink served worldwide to this day!


Make your own with this recipe:
• 4 dashes Angostura Bitters
• 1 teaspoon Sugar
• Orange Slice with Rind
• Maraschino Cherry
• Splash of Club Soda
• 2 ounces Bourbon
1 Fresh orange wheel
1 Cherry

In an Old Fashioned glass, muddle the bitters, sugar, orange slice and rind, cherry and a splash of soda. Remove the orange rind, add the bourbon and fill with cubed ice. Garnish with a fresh orange wheel and cherry.


The simplicity of this unique drink has maintained its appeal over many generations. Strong and sweet with a bit of a kick, this traditional Kentucky Derby cocktail is sure to bring a smile to your face as you enjoy all the “Derby City” has to offer.


When it comes to the Kentucky, Bourbon is king, but festive cocktails are always flowing.