The Basics History & Trends


From Sir Barton to Affirmed, the first Saturday in May kicks off the noble pursuit of the Triple Crown. For the last 136 years, Churchill Downs has hosted a fresh new crop of three-year-olds as they compete in, of course, the Kentucky Derby.

For decades, the Mint Julep, a deliciously sweet twang of the South whose origins lie somewhere between Virginia and Georgia, has been the favorite of race fans. But by the time your long shot hits the home stretch, you may be ready to drink something else. Fortunately, there are many fine equestrian libations that may just pique your fancy.

The Jockey Club is the breed registry for all Thoroughbreds born in North America. The name is also found in the annals of cocktail lore, with a possible but nevertheless hazy connection to the Manhattan. Try this not-so-subtle variation, which goes well with a nice cigar.

Dating back to the late 19th century, a Horse’s Neck was a refreshing glass of non-alcoholic ginger ale. Later, a jigger of bourbon or rye was added. It’s a perfect Derby-party beverage, since it only calls for two ingredients.

Man o’ War was one of the all-time greats, winning 20 of the 21 races he ran. While he didn’t compete in the Derby, he won the other two legs of the Triple Crown in 1920. He was also the granddaddy of another famed stallion, Seabiscuit. Remember him with this eponymous tipple (pictured above), a citrusy bourbon concoction.

In anticipation of the next jewel in the Crown, mix up the Preakness, an herbaceous combination of rye, Bénédictine and sweet vermouth.

Allen Katz is the director of mixology & spirits education for Southern Wine & Spirits of New York. He is also a advisor.