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9 Kentucky Derby Cocktails to sample on the first Saturday in September, presented by NYRA Bets

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We are only nine days away from the Kentucky Derby. Before you make a trip to the liquor store to prepare for the incredible horse racing event, consider making these cocktails for the unprecedented Labor Day celebration.

Traditional Mint Julep

  • Crushed Ice
  • 2 oz. water
  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 4 mint leaves

A mint julep is one of those things I typically only drink once, maybe twice a year at Churchill Downs. Barred from entering on the grounds on the first Saturday in May, this year I created my own. The lesson I learned: get all the supplies ready well in advance.

The recipe above is for folks who want to hastily throw together a julep. Do the right thing and concoct a big batch of simple syrup ahead of time by using a one-to-one ratio. Just pour a cup of water into a hot pan, add the sugar and heat until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once the simple syrup cools, muddle it with the mint leaves in the bottom of a glass, add a couple shots of bourbon and you got yourself a cocktail. Feeling extra froggy? Throw in some fresh fruit to personalize your mint julep experience.

The Woodford Spire

  • Crushed ice
  • 1.5 oz. of Woodford Reserve
  • 2 oz. lemonade
  • 1 oz. cranberry juice
  • Lemon twist garnish

If strong bourbon isn’t your thing, adding fruit to your mint julep might not sweeten up the cocktail enough. In that case, try this cranberry lemonade Woodford concoction.

Mrs. Tyler’s Bourbonade

  • 2 cups unsweetened ice tea
  • 1/2 cup sugar or Splenda
  • 1 12 oz. can of frozen lemonade
  • 1 12 oz. can frozen limeade
  • 1 750 ml bottle of bourbon
  • 7 cups water

Cranberry lemonade? Who needs that when you can just have Bourbonade. Mrs. Tyler Thompson’s homemade summer cocktail recipe will give you one gallon of deliciousness that can be used to toast to Derby Day, Labor Day or any day.

Sparkling Watermelon Punch

  • 1 mini watermelon
  • 6 mint leaves
  • 4 ounces vodka
  • 2 ounces fresh lime juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • sparkling wine, to top
  • Garnish: lime wheels
  • Garnish: mint sprig

This summertime special takes a little more effort, but it’s a masterpiece once it’s complete. First, you must cut and gut the watermelon with an ice cream scooper or a spoon. Take the pieces of watermelon and puree them in a blender with the mint leaves until it’s silky smooth. Strain up to a cup of the juice back into the watermelon shell, mix in the ice, vodka and the rest of the ingredients and — BAM! — you got yourself one refreshing punch.

Oaks Lily

  • 1 part vodka
  • 1 part Sweet n Sour
  • 3 parts cranberry juice
  • 1/4 part Triple Sec

My wife’s favorite drink, the ratios above are different than the official recipe.  The trick is to make it with the frozen cranberry juice (and be liberal with the Triple Sec).  A lily should be lighter than a cranberry vodka. If you really want to make it refreshing, pour it in a blender and add ice to make a tasty frozen lily.

Gins and Roses

  • .5 oz lemon juice
  • .5 oz Rose & peppercorn infused syrup
  • .5 oz Aperol
  • 1.5 oz gin

Article written by Nick Roush

"Look upon the doughnut, and not upon the hole." @RoushKSR

2 Comments for 9 Kentucky Derby Cocktails to sample on the first Saturday in September, presented by NYRA Bets



  1. ClutchCargo
    1:13 am August 28, 2020 Permalink

    PSA: Don’t put all that weird shit in bourbon. Just keeping it real.



    • ClutchCargo
      1:17 am August 28, 2020 Permalink

      Having said that, my bourbon slush is the frozen version of bourbonade, so tifwiw. lol