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Run for the Roses: The Kentucky Derby and cocktails

Updated: May 5, 2023

Get your fancy hats and mint juleps ready, folks - it's time to talk about the Kentucky Derby!

This iconic horse race has been around since 1875 and has become a staple of American culture. But where did it all begin?

Well, legend has it that the Kentucky Derby was founded by Meriwether Lewis Clark Jr., grandson of famous explorer William Clark. He was inspired by the Epsom Derby in England and wanted to create a similar event in the United States. So, he rallied some wealthy friends and established the Louisville Jockey Club, later known as Churchill Downs.

Aristides - First winner of the Kentucky Derby in 1875
Aristides - First winner of the Kentucky Derby

The first Kentucky Derby was held on May 17th, 1875, with a crowd of 10,000 spectators in attendance. Fifteen horses competed in the race, which was won by a horse named Aristides.

Since then, the Kentucky Derby has become a beloved event that draws in crowds worldwide. From the famous "Run for the Roses" to the glamorous fashion and delicious libations, and southern cuisine, there's something for everyone to enjoy.

But let's be real - we all know that the show's real star is the mint julep. This refreshing cocktail, made with bourbon, sugar, water, and mint, has become a quintessential part of the Kentucky Derby experience. And we can't blame them - it's the perfect drink to sip on while you cheer on your favorite horse. If the mint julep isn’t quite your style, we have a list of a few more that we think will suit your fancy.


Brown Derby


  • 1 1/2 ounces bourbon

  • 1 ounce grapefruit juice, freshly squeezed

  • 1/2 ounce honey syrup

  • Garnish: grapefruit twist


  1. Add the bourbon, grapefruit juice and honey syrup into a shaker with ice and shake until well-chilled.

  2. Fine-strain into a cocktail glass.

  3. Express the oil from a grapefruit twist over the drink and drop the twist into the drink to garnish.

Kentucky Maid


Oaks Lily



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