The Kentucky Derby is an all American, risk-taking moment in which a desired result is really beside the point. This gambling event on the first Saturday in May is without a doubt a celebration of miles of gingham and seersucker, as well as illustrious (think outrageous) hats to see and in which to be seen. The festivities get started with "millionaires" and "revelers" enjoying each other's idiosyncrasies -- those whose extravagant ticket prices afford an unobstructed view of the race's finish line, an opportunity to rub shoulders with celebrities, a meat carving station, and the grinder and pizza Mardi Gras-like crowd who are at the track more or less to socialize (the track is nearly invisible from the infield). A common element between the two Churchill Downs partygoers is the mint-garnished, ice cold Kentucky bourbon cocktail served to everyone in an aristocratic looking tin memorabilia cup. This recipe is adapted from NYC's storied speakeasy DEATH & CO.'s timeless reference craft cocktail book. From whatever vantage point, the adornment of a gorgeous five hundred and fifty-four rose garland blanket for the thoroughbred Run for the Roses winner is a nearly century-and-a-half old horse racing tradition which results in two of the most euphoric minutes in sports. Go ahead -- don a party hat and place your bet!

cuisine American
difficulty Simple
makes 1 cocktail
season Spring & Summer


  • 2 ounces Baker's Bourbon
  • 1 cup castor sugar
  • 1 cup hot water
  • Crushed ice
  • 1 mint bouquet


  1. To make the simple syrup, put the castor sugar and hot water in a jar with a tight fitting lid. Shake vigorously until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.
  2. Pour the bourbon and 1/4 ounce of simple syrup into a julep cup. Fill the cup halfway with crushed ice.
  3. Stir with a teaspoon churning the ice as you go, for about 10 seconds, holding the tin by the rim so the entire tin frosts up.
  4. Add additional crushed ice to fill the cup two-thirds full and stir until the cup itself is icy cold and frosty.
  5. Add more ice to form a cone above the rim. Garnish with mint bouquet and serve with a drinking straw.