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.