Mint julep? Where to sip bourbon cocktails during this weekend’s Kentucky Derby

The fastest two minutes in sports provide a great excuse to raise a glass—especially one that holds bourbon. This Saturday’s 147th Kentucky Derby offers plenty of opportunities to sip and savor something fitting, from classic mint juleps to brown liquor craft cocktails. 

We’ve highlighted a couple places around town serving up the quintessential cocktails this weekend. Read on for more.

Hayride Scandal

Hayride Scandal is hosting an afternoon of pre-race Derby Day events May 1, including a hat challenge and a contest to pick the winner from this year’s field of 12 horses, among which are two with spirit-centric monikers: Midnight Bourbon and Bourbonic.

An omen for the day? Sounds like it.

The Hayride Scandal bar will, of course, be preparing that OG beverage of Churchill Downs, the mint julep. It’s a refreshing blend of bourbon, sugar, fresh mint and ice served with a straw in an elegant julep cup. Hayride Scandal’s Derby line-up also includes lessons on how to make your own mint juleps with demonstrations on the hour between 1 and 3 p.m. Reservations are recommended.

Beausoleil’s Homestretch dessert cocktail is anchored by Jim Beam Vanilla. Photo provided by Beausoleil.

Beausoleil Coastal Cuisine

Beausoleil’s spin on the festivities is a five-course Kentucky Derby Cocktail Dinner that includes original and classic cocktails paired with Derby-inspired dishes. The first course pairs a mint julep made with Maker’s 46, the high-end small-batch bourbon from Loretto, Kentucky-based producer Maker’s Mark, with two starters: mint julep-infused jumbo shrimp with white remoulade sauce and Nashville hot fried green tomatoes. The final course features Kentucky Derby pie with a dessert cocktail named The Homestretch that’s made with Jim Beam Vanilla bourbon, brown sugar, chai liqueur, carrot juice and cream and finished with nutmeg and cinnamon.

The dinner is 6:30-9:30 p.m. May 1. Reservations are required for the event. Click here to see the full menu and reserve a spot.

Mid City Beer Garden’s Trinidad Sour, made with rye whiskey. Photo by Ariana Allison

Mid City Beer Garden

Elsewhere around town, your favorite watering holes are busting out the bourbon and other brown liquors in time for the Run for the Roses. Mid City Beer Garden co-owner Kelli Paxton recommends the Trinidad Sour, made with rye, which is more floral and less sweet than bourbon. The spirit is shaken with fresh lemon juice, Bogart’s Bitters and BG Reynolds Orgeat Syrup, a natural cocktail syrup that blends fresh almonds and cane sugar, and strained into a fun-to-hold coupe glass with a dried lemon wheel.

Stock up for a homemade cocktail at Calandro’s

For homebodies, Calandro’s Supermarket curates a varied and always evolving bourbon collection at its two locations on Perkins Road and Government Street. Blaise Calandro suggests stocking up on single-barrel selections from Kentucky like Jefferson’s Twin Oak Reserve and Pinhook Bourbon. Another nice find that’s turning a lot of heads at the moment is Penelope Bourbon, a newer, award-winning spirit that’s likely to be harder to get in the next few years, he says.

Bourbons like these are perfect for sipping—a great way to wind down your busy Derby Day.

Planning to head to another Derby Day event around town this weekend? Let us know about it in the comments?

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