A cocktail guide to the horse-racing event of the season, including recipes for bourbon and champagne-infused drinks.
Food & Wine
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Kentucky Derby Connection: Mint Juleps are the official cocktail of the Derby.
When New Orleans bartender Chris McMillian mixes mint juleps at Bar UnCommon, he recites an ode, written in the 1890s by a Kentucky newspaperman, that calls the cocktail "the zenith of man's pleasure—the very dream of drinks."
Kentucky Derby Connection: The Kentucky Derby has been held annually in Louisville, Kentucky since 1875.
Not all of the drinks at Minneapolis' Town Talk Diner, a newly renovated 1940s diner, have risqué names, but, says bar manager Nick Kosevich, "It's great when a 60-year-old lady orders a Panty Dropper."
Kentucky Derby Connection: Two of the favorites in the 2011 field, Stay Thirsty and Uncle Mo, ran against each other in The Gotham Stakes, held annually at New York's Aqueduct racetrack.
Many of the cocktails at the Thoroughbred Club in Charleston, SC, are named after racetracks or horse-racing terms. This variation on the old-fashioned is named after the one racetrack located within New York City limits.
Kentucky Derby Connection: Mine That Bird won the 2009 Kentucky Derby.
"When I make my drinks, I look to the kitchen, particularly to the pastry chef," says Kristen Johnson, the bar manager at Chapel Hill's Lantern. "The fruit and herbs that are at the farmers' market go into her desserts; those same things show up in my cocktails."
Kentucky Derby Connection: It is a longstanding tradition for ladies attending the Derby to wear large, flamboyant hats.
Joe Fee, of Fee Brothers syrup and bitters company, gave Jeff Grdinich a bottle of his new rhubarb bitters in 2008. Grdinich concocted this drink with it. The name is a tribute to Mr. Fee, who is known for tipping his ever-present fedora in greeting.