Kentucky Derby Classics

While you might think given all the talk about horses, trainers, and bloodlines that the Kentucky Derby is a sporting event about competing for the most prestigious title in racing; well, it's not. True the Kentucky Derby is a sporting event, but the competition hinges on who can come up with the best Derby hat, who can make the perfect horse racing cocktail and who best can pull off elegance and sophistication with a charm that speaks to the fact that this is just an everyday ensemble of wardrobe and panache.

 It starts with the Kentucky Derby hat

It starts with the Kentucky Derby hat

 From there you have to find that just right cigar. If you are not lucky enough to be at Churchill Downs, you also have to find a place to light your stogie up.

From there you have to find that just right cigar. If you are not lucky enough to be at Churchill Downs, you also have to find a place to light your stogie up.

Then, the "pièce de résistance" is your cocktail. There really are only two options when it comes to KDay, the Mint Julep and the Old Fashion. Both muddled cocktails hearken back to a time when a mixologist was willing to put a little time and effort into preparing the perfect cocktail.

We start with the Mint Julep, because as any regal KDay gentleman will concede, ladies first.

 Even though over 80k mint juleps will be served at Churchill downs on Saturday, it doesn't mean yours can't be better

Even though over 80k mint juleps will be served at Churchill downs on Saturday, it doesn't mean yours can't be better

Mint Julep

  • 4 - 5 mint sprigs (fresh from your garden is best)
  • 2 sugar cubes
  • 2.5 oz Don Quixote Blue Corn Bourbon
  • 1 oz Don Quixote's ginger extract (optional)

Muddle the mint sprigs in the bottom of a low ball glass with the sugar cubes. The sugar provides grit to tease out the mint oil. Do not over muddle the mint or you will have green leaf chunks stuck to your teeth and let's face it, it's pretty hard to look suave when your smile is speckled with green stuff.  From there you add in bourbon and perhaps the optional ginger liquor if you want to give your cocktail that certain DC je ne sais quoi.  Finally, pour in ice and garnish with a mint leaf.

 

But if you want to kick it back old school, then I'd recommend the old fashion.

 Everything good about cocktails is in an old fashion - the cocktail from which the term cocktail came from.

Everything good about cocktails is in an old fashion - the cocktail from which the term cocktail came from.

Old Fashion

  • 2 oz. Don Quixote Single Cask Bourbon
  • 1 Orange peal slice
  • 1 Maraschino cherry
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2-3 dashes of bitters

In a low ball glass, muddle the orange slice, cherry and sugar cube. Be gentle and don't over muddle. Add in bourbon. Carefully dash in the bitters recognizing that too much bitters ruins your cocktail. Add ice and garnish with another cherry or orange slice.

BETTING TIP:

Like all handicappers, I have a guaranteed betting strategy based on my Ph.D. in probability, statistics and decision theory combined with over thirty years of experimental data. This strategy has consistently produced KDay winners year in and year out. Here it is:

1) Find out what horse I bet on.

2) Bet on any other horse running.

Drinks for the Masters

The Master's golf tournament is underway and while I can't pretend that watching golf on TV is anyway interesting, I am captivated by the thought of what one should drink while watching grown men golf. Perhaps its best to approach this question from two perspective.

  1. You are a golf enthusiast and really enjoy watching on TV
  2. You are married to golf enthusiast and suffer through having this on TV all day
  What's in your golf bag?

 What's in your golf bag?

Let's consider case 2 first. What is the best cocktail for the person marking time until the golf game is over? The person for whom every time they come in from outside or pass the TV room has to hear the hushed voices of commentators doing their best to make something utterly boring seem remotely exciting.

Let's examine the variables, the venue for the Masters is the deep South. Its spring; the trees are in full bloom and a gentle breeze carries a hint of warm Atlantic sea salt. Great athletes from around the world are gathered to compete for the singular glory of winning a green blazer. What cocktail could capture all that better than the Scarlett O'Hara - the state cocktail of Georgia. At our tasting room, the Scarlett O'Hara has a quixotically elegant charm

  • 2 oz Don Quixote Single Cask Blue Corn Bourbon
  • 0.25 oz Mon Cherie Dark Cherry Port
  • 1/4 Fresh Lime
  • 4 oz Cranberry juice

Combine bourbon and port in glass. Squeeze in fresh lime and fill with crushed ice. Pour in cranberry juice. By the third iteration, you'll come to terms with telling your golf watching associate whenever you walk by, "Frankly my dear..."

Now for the interesting issue of what to serve a golf enthusiast as he/she sits for hours watching people push a golf ball around a course they could probably never. . . wait for it . . . 'master'.  So what should the perfect golf watching cocktail be?  Since anyone who watches golf long enough is going to wind up napping, the goal for this cocktail has to be getting to that train station as quickly as possible. And, what better cocktail to accomplish that task than the Martini - an elegantly sophisticated cocktail tailor made for the quiet pageantry that is golf. While I personally like an old school gin Martini, the most popular Martini in our tasting rooms is a gin/vodka combo. For spring, we recommend using our Mint/Lavender gin along side our Polish rye vodka

  • 1 oz Don Quixote Mint Lavender Gin
  • 1 oz Don Quixote Rye Vodka
  • 1 oz dry vermouth
  • Twist of lemon garnish (or olives if your feeling dirty)

Combine the gin, vodka and vermouth in a shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously until well chilled. Strain into a martini glass. Add a lemon twist. If you like things a little dirty, pour in a splash of olive juice.

             How to make golf interesting

            How to make golf interesting