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10 Best Bourbon Drinks For Kentucky Derby Listed (2022)

Last Updated on November 22, 2022 by Lydia Martin

Kentucky Derby is a good place to be if you want an exhilarating experience of horse racing while having refreshing cocktails like a Mint Julep. If you have already planned your vacation during the derby, you must learn more about the cocktails you can drink there.

Here is a list of our favorite bourbon drinks for the Kentucky Derby.

Top 10 Bourbon Drinks To Try At Kentucky Derby Parties

10. Blade & Bow Gold Rush

Gold Rush

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: 2 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 2 oz. Blade & Bow bourbon
  • 3/4 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz honey syrup
  • lemon twist (garnish)

Instructions:

Begin the recipe by placing all ingredients inside the shaker filled with ice halfway, except the garnish. Vigorously shake until contents are chilled—strain contents over rocks glass. Garnish and serve.

Serving:

9. Van Winkle Old Fashioned

Van Winkle Old Fashioned

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 2.5 ounces Pappy Van Winkle bourbon (preferably 10- or 15-year)
  • 2 cubes of raw sugar 
  • 5 dashes of orange bitters
  • 5 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • orange slice 

Instructions: 

Place an orange slice at the bottom of the rocks glass. Place a napkin at the top of your glass and place sugar cubes. Drop Angostura and orange bitters into the cubes before dumping them into the glass.

Add remaining ingredients and muddle contents but avoid including the orange peel. Lastly, add the remaining whiskey and stir well. Serve.

Serving:1

8. Cranberry Manhattan

Cranberry Manhattan

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 2 ounces whiskey (preferably rye)
  • ½ ounce vermouth (sweet )
  • ½ ounce Brandied Cranberry or cranberry juice
  • dash orange bitters
  • orange peel and cranberries for garnish

Instructions:

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice halfway. Pour whiskey, vermouth, and cranberry juice, cover, and shake vigorously. Then strain the contents into a martini glass. Add orange bitters and garnish with cranberries and orange peel. 

Serving: 1

7. Letters & Speeches

Letters & Speeches on desk

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: 2 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 1.25 ounces Calumet Farm bourbon whiskey
  • 0.5 ounce Fino Sherry
  • 0.25 ounce orange liqueur
  • 0.5 ounce Maraschino liqueur 
  • Cherries for Garnish

Instructions:

Begin this recipe by pouring all liquid ingredients into a cocktail shaker and mixing them thoroughly. Double strain contents on a chilled coupe glass. Top with cherries on a skewer. 

Serving: 1

6. The Blonde Bomber

The Blonde Bomber

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: 3 minutes

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • .75 ounce lemon or lime juice
  • .75 ounce glucose 
  • Cherry or Lemon twist for garnish

Instructions: 

Fill the cocktail shaker with ice, then add bourbon, lemon juice, and glucose [1]. You can make your own syrup by mixing water and sugar in a small saucepan and bringing it to a boil for a couple of minutes. Or, you can use a store-bought syrup. 

Shake very well. Strain contents and pour over a rocks glass filled with ice. Top with a cherry or lemon wedge. 

Serving: 1

5. Watermelon Smash

Watermelon Smash

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Total Time: 5 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • ½ cup watermelon chopped/¼ cup watermelon juice
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • 1 ounce bourbon
  • 1 ounce white rum or vodka 
  • 4 mint leaves (large) or more for garnish
  • 2 teaspoons simple syrup
  • Crushed ice for serving

Instructions: 

Prepare crushed ice. Next, place mint leaves inside the cocktail shaker. Muddle contents gently. Add in watermelon and muddle along with mint to release juices. 

Add the remaining ingredients, then add fresh ice. Shake contents vigorously until chilled. Prepare lowball glass and add ice — fine strain when doing so. Top with watermelon slices and mint, and enjoy this refreshing drink.

Serving: 1

4. Crescent Coffee

Crescent Coffee

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: 2 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 1 ounce bourbon whiskey
  • 6 ounces of hot coffee
  • 1/2 ounce honey liqueur
  • whipped cream (optional for garnishing)

Instructions: 

Add bourbon and the sweet liqueur to an Irish coffee glass or cup. Then add in freshly-brewed hot coffee. Stir briefly and top with whipped cream with dashes of chocolate bitters. Drink and enjoy your Kentucky Derby cocktail in a cup.

Serving: 1

3. Maker’s Sour

Maker’s Sour

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: 3 minutes

Ingredients:

Instructions: 

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Combine bourbon, lemon juice, and sweet syrup with ice and shake vigorously—strain over a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with lemon peel and cherry. 

Serving: 1

2. Autumn Leaves

Autumn Leaves

Prep Time: 2 minutes

Total Time: 3 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce bourbon
  • 1 ounce Drambuie
  • 0.5 ounce Campari
  • 0.5 ounce lime juice
  • lime twist and orange wedge for garnish

Instructions

Pour bourbon, Drambuie, Campari, and lime juice into an ice-filled mixing glass. Stir well, then strain contents from the mixing glass into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish and enjoy.

Serving: 1

1. Mint Julep

Mint Julep

Prep Time: 3 minutes

Total Time: 3 minutes

Ingredients: 

  • 8 mint leaves
  • .05 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • mint sprigs (for garnish)

Instructions: 

Prepare this traditional mint Julep cocktail by starting by muddling the fresh mint leaves lightly. Add simple syrup and crushed ice to the Julep cup, then muddle lightly. 

Add more crushed ice, mint sprig [2], and bourbon to the julep cup. Slap a fresh mint sprig on your hand before using it as a julep garnish. Have fun with your Mint Julep drink!

Serving: 1

What’s the Kentucky Derby?

The Kentucky Derby is an annual American horse race in Louisville, Kentucky, usually celebrated on the first Saturday of May at Churchill Downs. 

There is an ongoing derby party during the Kentucky Derby race. They serve classic Mint Julep, Woodford Reserve, and other cocktails and drinks for everyone present on Derby day.

FAQs

What bourbon is served at the Kentucky Derby?

Woodford Reserve Kentucky Derby 146 Limited is the official drink served at the Kentucky Derby. However, other Kentucky bourbon brands are used in Kentucky Derby party cocktail recipes like Knob Creek and Old Forester

Are there non-bourbon Kentucky Derby drinks?

Yes, there are non-bourbon Kentucky Derby drinks available. You can easily find a vodka drink, ginger beer, and more.

However, it is common to find Kentucky Derby cocktails with bourbon ingredients such as the traditional Mint Juleps, ginger ale, and Oaks Lily.

In Summary

Kentucky Derby is a special event that calls for an equally special drink.

Having a glass of Woodford Reserve straight or mixed with Triple Sec while awaiting who wins the triple crown is a way to celebrate the special occasion.  

References:

  1. https://www.webmd.com/diabetes/glucose-diabetes
  2. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/275944

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