Kentucky Derby cocktails: Cheers to big hats & mint juleps


The annual run for the roses, Kentucky Derby, is watched by many. Kentucky Derby cocktails can celebrate a big win or console a disappointing loss.

The classic Kentucky Derby cocktail is the mint julep. Both the ladies with their fabulous hats and the men with their dapper clothes sip the Southern favorite throughout the Kentucky Derby Day. While the race only lasts two minutes, the cocktails shouldn’t be drunk as quickly. This bourbon based cocktail has become synonymous with the run for the roses.

A mint julep generally has just four ingredients: bourbon, mint, sugar and crushed ice. Usually, the mint is muddled or smashed in the bottom of the glass. Bourbon and sugar, often a simple syrup, is added, which is topped with crushed ice. Served in a tall, old-fashioned glass, the cocktail is generally refreshing on a warm spring day.

The mint julep has been associated with the Kentucky Derby since 1938. On an annual basis, over 100,000 mint juleps are served during the Kentucky Derby. But, even those who aren’t attending the race in person can enjoy Kentucky Derby cocktails.

Here are some classic and innovative mint juleps for the Kentucky Derby.

Kentucky Derby Cocktails, photo provided by Maker’s Mark

Classic Maker’s Mark Mint Julep

"recipe by Maker’s MarkIngredients:1 ½ parts Maker’s Mark® BourbonFresh mint2 tablespoons simple syrup* muddled with mintSplash of distilled waterPowdered sugarMint sprig for garnish1 cup granulated sugar*1 cup distilled water*Instructions: Mix together simple syrup muddled with mint, Maker’s Mark® Bourbon and distilled water. Fill glass with crushed ice and pour mixture over top. Sprinkle top of ice with powdered sugar. Garnish with a mint sprig. *Simple Syrup: Heat to dissolve sugar, stirring constantly so the sugar does not burn. Set aside to cool."

Kentucky Derby Cocktails, photo provided by Maker’s Mark

Bourbon Ball Julep

"recipe by Maker’s MarkIngredients:2 parts Maker’s Mark® Bourbon½ DeKuyper® Amaretto Liqueur½ DeKuyper® White Crème De Cocoa¼ parts DeKuyper® Muddled MintSugar and crushed pecansInstructions: Pour Maker’s Mark® Bourbon, DeKuyper® Amaretto Liqueur, DeKuyper® White Crème De Cocoa, Dekuyper® Muddled Mint over ice in shaker. Shake well and strain over ice. Sprinkle with sugar and crushed pecan."

Kentucky Derby Cocktails, photo provided by Maker’s Mark

Champagne Mint Julep

"recipe by Maker’s MarkIngredients:2 parts Maker’s Mark® Bourbon2 parts sparkling white wine or Champagne½ parts elderflower liqueurLemon twist and mint for garnishInstructions: Mix together Maker’s Mark® Bourbon, sparkling white wine, elderflower liqueur. Muddle with mint. Pour over crushed ice and garnish with lemon twist."

Next: Earth Day cocktails

Sit back and sip your way through the annual run of the roses. A Kentucky Derby cocktail is the best way to feel like your sitting at Churchill Downs with the winning horse.