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Ten cocktail recipes for Kentucky Derby Day

Kentucky’s annual horse racing extravaganza takes place on Saturday (4 May) and we’ve rounded up 10 of the best cocktail recipes for it.

We’ve rounded up 10 cocktail recipes to celebrate the Kentucky Derby tomorrow

Now in its 150th year, held on the first Saturday of May at horse-racing complex Churchill Downs in Louisville, the Kentucky Derby is dubbed ‘the most exciting two minutes into sports’. The race is also synonymous with the Mint Julep, comprising a refreshing mix of Bourbon, mint, sugar and crushed ice.

We’ve called on spirits brands to give their Julep recipes, from classic mint to the more evolved twists, as well as a few Mules and other Derby-themed drinks too. Whether you’re at Churchill Downs or hiding away in Timbuktu, these 10 recipes should have you in good stead to celebrate.

After more inspiration? Check out our roundups of cocktail recipes from March and April.

The Crown Mule

Derby Day Cocktails

Tequila brand Herradura has teamed up with Q Mixers to create an exclusive cocktail to be served at the Director’s Room at Churchill Downs ahead of Saturday.


  • 43ml Tequila Herradura Reposado
  • 113ml Q Tropical Ginger Beer
  • Finish with a squeeze of fresh lime
  • Garnish with a lime wheel or wedge

Method: Build the drink in a copper mug or rocks glass over ice.

Salted Caramel Mint Julep

The rich flavours of salted caramel add a luscious, sweet note to the classic Mint Julep. It’s also super easy to prepare, which makes it even more appealing.


  • 71ml Duke & Dame Salted Caramel Whiskey
  • 6-8 fresh mint leaves
  • Crushed ice
  • Mint sprig for garnish

Method: In a Julep cup, gently muddle the fresh mint leaves to release their oils and flavours. Fill the glass with crushed ice, packing it down slightly. Pour the Duke & Dame Salted Caramel Whiskey over the ice. Stir gently to mix the ingredients and chill the drink. Top with more crushed ice if needed. Garnish with a fresh mint sprig for an aromatic touch.

Diplomatico Derby


Sure, it’s not a Julep, but it’s still a very refreshing alternative for those seeking a different way to get race-day ready.


  • 2 parts Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva
  • 1 part grapefruit juice
  • 0.25 part honey syrup

Method: Add all ingredients to a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a coupe glass straight up. Garnish with a grapefruit twist.

Jamaican Mule

Derby Day drinking isn’t exclusively reserved for Bourbon, as rum proves in this recipe from Jamaican distillery, Appleton Estate.


  • 2 parts Appleton Estate Signature
  • 3 lime wedges
  • 2 parts ginger beer
  • 1 dash aromatic bitters (optional)

Method: Squeeze the limes into a rocks glass, pressing them with a muddler. Add ice, combine the remaining ingredients in the glass and stir.

The Rose Mint Julep

Woodford Reserve is the race’s official Bourbon, so making this recipe on the big day only feels right.


  • 57ml Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • 1 tsp rose-infused honey simple syrup
  • 6 mint leaves
  • Miniature rose buds for garnish

Method: Wipe mint leaves inside a Julep cup, expressing the fragrances and flavour. Drop the leaves in the cup. Add rose-infused honey simple syrup, crushed ice and Woodford Reserve Bourbon to the cup. Garnish with mint and miniature rose buds.

Kentucky Buck

Giddy up, saddle up or just plonk yourself down on the sofa in front of the TV with this invigorating cocktail that packs in plenty of fruit flavours.


  • 57ml Angel’s Envy Bourbon Finished in Port Wine Barrels
  • 14ml fresh lemon juice
  • 14ml simple syrup
  • 28ml strawberry
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 85ml ginger beer

Method: Muddle the strawberry in a cocktail shaker. Add all ingredients, except the ginger beer, into the cocktail shaker. Fill the shaker with ice and shake. Strain over fresh ice into a Collins glass. Top with ginger beer and enjoy.

Black Tea Gin Julep

More a gin person than a Bourbon person? Don’t stress: Castle & Key have you sorted with this tea-fused Julep twist.


  • 71ml Rise Gin
  • 14ml black tea syrup
  • 7ml lemon
  • Muddled mint

Method: Prepare just like a Mint Julep, but with the ingredients above.

Derby Bellini


Everyone’s favourite breakfast drink, the Bellini, can do a solid job as your watch party drink too.


  • 1.5 parts Basil Hayden Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • ¾ parts Italicus
  • ¾ parts apricot liqueur
  • ¾ parts fresh lemon juice
  • 1.5 parts Prosecco
  • 1 lemon wheel

Method: Combine all ingredients into a shaker tin with ice and shake. Strain into Champagne flute and garnish with a lemon wheel.

The Irish Derby


Cheer on your horse with this Irish-inspired Derby serve. Who knows, it might bring some of the country’s famous luck as well.


  • 42ml Triple Dog Irish Whiskey
  • 14ml Carpano Antica sweet vermouth
  • 14ml Pierre Ferrand Dry Curaçao (or Cointreau)
  • 14ml freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 lime twist for garnish

Method: Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour in Triple Dog Irish Whiskey, sweet vermouth, orange curaçao, lime juice, and Angostura bitters. Shake well until chilled. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a twist of lime peel to enhance the citrus notes.

Hibiscus Mint Julep

Elevate your Derby Day viewing experience with this sweet, yet refreshing take on a Julep from Four Roses.


  • 57ml Four Roses Small Batch
  • 14ml hibiscus syrup
  • 2-3 mint leaves
  • Garnish with mint

Method: Steep 1 part hibiscus tea to 1 part granulated sugar. Stir until dissolved. Muddle mint with hibiscus syrup in a Julep cup. Add Bourbon and crushed ice. Pack tight. Swizzle or stir until the cocktail is well chilled. Add more ice to create a dome. Garnish.

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