Celebrate the Kentucky Derby with a classic
Thoroughbreds are chomping to run for the roses. And you’ll need bourbon to watch them.
Enter The Derby Cocktail, a bourbon-based charmer that will quench your thirst while you lounge in the bluegrass.
We know you’ll like this one. We’ll even bet on it ($2.00 limit, of course)
Recipe: The Derby Cocktail
There are several variants of the Derby Cocktail. In Britain, the favored version uses gin as the base spirit. But here in the US, bourbon rules (and that’s the version we’re making).
We learned about this drink from Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, and we use his recipe. Haigh based his version on a recipe he found in a Trader Vic cocktail book.
This recipe takes about 5 minutes to prepare and makes one drink.
- 1 ounce bourbon
- ½ ounce sweet vermouth
- ½ ounce Grand Marnier (or other orange curaçao; see Notes)
- ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- lime twist/wedge or mint sprig for garnish (optional)
- Place all ingredients (except garnish) in a cocktail shaker half-filled with ice. Shake briskly until the contents are well-chilled (15 to 20 seconds).
- Strain into a cocktail glass, preferably one that’s been chilled. Garnish, if you wish, and serve.
- Grand Marnier is a premium orange curaçao (a form of orange liqueur).
- Orange curaçao has a slightly different flavor profile from triple sec (the other orange liqueur you’re likely to see in liquor stores). Cointreau is an example of a premium triple sec.
- You can substitute a generic orange curaçao for Grand Marnier if you like, although the quality and flavor may not be as good.
- As noted above, there are many variations on the Derby Cocktail. One popular version calls for 2 ounces of bourbon, ¼ ounce of Benedictine liqueur, and 1 dash Angostura bitters. It’s nice, but not our favorite.
- Want to make a gin version of this drink? Mix 2 ounces of dry gin with 2 dashes peach bitters. Strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.
- So where and when did the Derby Cocktail originate? No one is quite sure. The gin version may have developed first, possibly in Britain. In which case, the drink was probably named after “The Derby,” England’s premier horse race held at Epsom Downs.
- The Kentucky Derby is the best-known horse race in the US, so the bourbon version of the Derby Cocktail may have been developed to honor it. Makes sense, because the Kentucky Derby is held in, well, Kentucky – which is known for its bourbon.
“Nice,” said Mrs Kitchen Riffs. “This is the Secretariat of bourbon cocktails.”
“Yup,” I said. “Makes me want to take the bit between my teeth!”
“Maybe you should canter over to the bar and make us another,” said Mrs K R.
“I’d prefer to gallop!” I said.
“Careful, old timer,” said Mrs K R. “Don’t want you to go lame on the way to the bourbon.”
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