Monday, October 2, 2023 Oct 2, 2023
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What To Drink Now: The Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo All In One Glorious Day

By Hayley Hamilton Cogill |

This Saturday is a cocktail play-land for spirit lovers with the Kentucky Derby and Cinco de Mayo happening the same day, and what better way to celebrate them both than with tasty libations that are slightly outside the box of what you might typically enjoy on these festive occasions.  Yes, the tried and true margaritas and mint juleps will always remain on the menu, but this year consider one of these combinations while watching the 138th running of the Kentucky Derby or toasting Mexico’s El Dia de la Batalla de Puebla or The Day of the Battle of Puebla, when Mexican forces defeated the French in 1862.  Some selections were sent for editorial consideration.

Tequila is the most well known spirit from Mexico, but for coffee lovers it doesn’t get any better than Kahlua, the rich, expressive and delicious coffee liqueur from Veracruz, Mexico. Delicious on its own, simply served over ice; stirring it together with a bit of vodka for a Black Russian, or adding cream for the much loved White Russian; or mixed in with your favorite cup of coffee.  Try the Cinnamon Spice Kahlua, inspired by a Meixcan Café de Olla, blending coffee with brown sugar and cinnamon, it will turn any plain cup into an exotic Mexican coffee.  

Patron is best know for their tequila, but their brand goes beyond their Silver, Repasado and Anejo finding new ways to merge their clean, smooth and distinct tequila into new flavor options.  They recently launched their Patron XO Cafe Dark Cocoa for those with a bit of a sweet tooth blending their Patron Silver with the essence of fine coffee and Criollo chocolate from Mexico creating a luscious, ultra premium liqueur perfect to start or end a celebration with.

1 1/2 oz Patrón XO Cafe Dark Cocoa
3/4 oz Ultimat Vodka
1/2 oz Agave Syrup
3/4 oz Lemon Juice
8 Mint Leaves
Soda Water
Directions – Muddle mint, lemon, and agave together in a bar shaker. Add liquors and ice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass. Add soda water to top off.  Garnish with a mint leaf, lemon peel, and some cocoa nibs.

Tequila is made for much more than a margarita, with many best served straight up for slow sipping, like Casa Dragones, Herradura Anejo, Don Julio Repasado and many more.  Adding tequila as the base spirit in cocktails instead of vodka or gin can also elevate the basic flavor profile, giving a drink layers of floral, citrus and spice notes.

Camarena Chipotle Cooler
2 oz Camarena Reposado Tequila
1 oz Pineapple Juice
1/2 oz Orange Liqueur, like Cointreau
2 Pinches Chipotle Chili Pepper Spice
2 oz Lemonade
Lemon Wheel Garnish
Directions – Combine liquids and spice in cocktail shaker with ice. Shake to blend. Strain into tall glass over fresh ice. Garnish with lemon wheel.

A good Bloody Mary is my go to on any occasion, adding tequila turns this classic into a Bloody Maria.

Avion Bloody Maria
2 oz. Avión Silver
2 oz. Tomato juice
2 tsp. Horseradish
1/2 oz. Worcestershire sauce (or a little more to your taste)
2 Dashes Tabasco
Squeeze of fresh lemon and fresh lime
Salt and freshly cracked pepper
Directions – Add all ingredients to a shaker over ice and shake until chilled.  Strain over ice in a tall glass and garnish with a celery stalk, olive, lemon and lime.

A mint julep is in the hand of everyone toasting the winners at the Kentucky Derby, but who says that is the only thing to enjoy?  In true southern spirit, consider these options from Grey Goose.

Grey Goose L’Orange Thoroughbred (for 2 cocktails)

Description: Run for the Roses

3 parts Grey Goose L’Orange Flavored Vodka
2 parts peach brandy
2 parts southern sweet iced tea
2 parts fresh lime juice
2 rose petals for garnish
Chambord Liqueur for floating
Directions – Add first four ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker is frosted and beaded with sweat. Strain into two rocks glasses filled with crushed ice; pour CHAMBORD so that it floats on top of the drink. Garnish with rose petals.

This year’s Derby also marks the launch of a new vodka from Grey Goose, Cherry Noir, so their mixology team created Derby inspired cocktails to celebrate the launch with, like the Grey Goose Cherry Lane.

Grey Goose Cherry Lane
1 ½ parts Grey Goose Cherry Noir
¾ parts Benedictine Liqueur
1 ½ parts Lemon
¾ parts Simple Syrup
1 dash Bitters
Directions – Mix all ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a martini cocktail glass and garnish with cherries on a cocktail pick.

If its just not Derby Day without a mint julep, Makers Mark does it best with their take on the classic.

Mint Julep
1-1/2 parts Maker’s Mark Bourbon
Fresh mint
2 tablespoons simple syrup* muddled with mint
Splash of distilled water
Powdered sugar
Directions – 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
1 cup granulated sugar
1 cup distilled water
Heat to dissolve sugar, stirring constantly so the sugar does not burn. Set aside to cool.