The 146th Kentucky Derby may have been delayed four months, but that didn’t stop bourbon from flowing all summer. So if you’re not in the mood for yet another classic mint julep while watching the Run for the Roses, these simple bourbon-based cocktails are a sure bet—even if your horse doesn’t come in.
Easy Cocktail Recipes for This Year’s Kentucky Derby
WOODFORD RESERVE MINT JULEP MILKSHAKE
“As a kid growing up in America ice cream floats were a staple of my childhood. They were always part of sleepovers with my grandparents and this reminds me of those better times. You can’t help but have a little smile on your face when you enjoy this cocktail. As the world’s number one premium bourbon whiskey, Woodford Reserve can be found in any market. And with a proof of 90.4 you can taste it through the ice cream—but it’s also not going to take over and dominate the drink.” —Michael Toscano, Woodford Reserve New York City brand ambassador
1.5 oz. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon
2 scoops vanilla ice cream (alternative: mint chocolate chip ice cream)
0.75 oz. Woodford Reserve mint simple syrup
Fresh mint sprigs, for garnish
Grated dark chocolate, for garnish
Method: Build all ingredients in a tall glass and top with the Q Kola. Garnish with large sprig of fresh mint, and grated dark chocolate. Use a paper straw to enjoy.
“Although I created it specifically for the Breeders’ Cup, the Torrie Cup is the perfect cocktail to enjoy while watching all of this year’s big races (like the upcoming Kentucky Derby) from home: It’s simple yet complex. And all of the ingredients can easily be found at your local grocery and liquor stores. In fact, every time I go to make one, I’m relieved to find that I already have everything I need right in my kitchen! The name Maker’s Mark is synonymous with high-quality bourbon and it sets the tone for this potent, yet refreshing libation, which combines the classic pairing of whiskey and sweet vermouth with the lighter elements of lemonade and orange juice. Not too strong, sweet, or fruity, this is my go-to drink for tuning into sporting events like the Breeders’ Cup and the Run for the Roses!” —Mark Tubridy, bartender and mixologist at the 21 Club, New York City
1.5 parts Maker’s Mark bourbon
0.75 parts sweet vermouth
1.5 parts orange juice
2 parts lemonade
Method: Combine all ingredients in a mixing tin. Add ice, shake vigorously, and strain over fresh ice in a wine glass or goblet. Garnish with a lemon wheel.
“Funnily enough, Old Forester is the first bourbon I’ve ever tried and I found out recently that it was also the first bourbon ever bottled in the world! I’ve tried many bourbons since, but nothing quite compares to the robust yet elegant flavor profile from this entire portfolio of bourbons. My favorite in particular is the 100, as I’ve never had a spirit with a high ABV that tasted so smooth. It’s ideal for mixing cocktails, especially the Chambord Sangria. It’s my choice for an elevated Derby cocktail: It still captures the essence of a Julep with Old Forester 100 and mint. And the addition of Chambord adds a layer of black raspberry and vanilla, which makes the drink far more interesting! The cocktail also has a touch of fresh grapefruit and hibiscus tea, making it a refreshing and easy sipping Derby drink—whether you’re celebrating in Kentucky or safe at home.” —Deena Sayers, bartender and beverage consultant
2 oz. Chambord
1 oz. Old Forester 100 Proof
1 oz. fresh grapefruit juice
0.75 oz. hibiscus tea
3 mint leaves
Grapefruit, for garnish
Mint sprig, for garnish
Method: In a shaker tin, rip the mint leaves into small pieces. Combine all the remaining ingredients and shake well. Double strain into a wine glass over fresh ice and garnish with grapefruit slices and a mint sprig.
“When creating the Clara Bow, I took inspiration from the speakeasies of the Prohibition Era. Bartenders had to resort to combining whatever sweeteners were available to them to create something drinkable especially with spirits of questionable quality. With all of us spending much more time at home these days, and maybe trying our hand at creating cocktails using what’s left in our home bar carts, this cocktail is perfect for mixing something up for the Derby using that bourbon you’ve had lying around at home waiting for the perfect moment.” —Lynnette Marrero, co-beverage director at Wonderbar, Beacon, New York
0.5 oz. Grenadine
0.5 oz. St. Germain elderflower liqueur
0.75 oz. fresh lemon juice
1.5 oz. bourbon
5–6 mint leaves
Method: Combine all cocktail ingredients except for the mint sprig in a shaker. Add 4 to 5 ice cubes and shake vigorously. Using a Hawthorne strainer and a fine-mesh strainer, pour the contents into a coupe. Garnish with mint sprig.