Cocktail & Other Recipes Occasion Spring

11 Kentucky Derby Cocktails Perfect for Race Day

Image: Giraffes Can Bake

The Kentucky Derby’s quintessential drink, the Mint Julep, is practically required drinking while watching the horses race around the track. Sure, the refreshing combination of bourbon and mint is may be the real star of the Derby. After all, the race only lasts two minutes, but the cocktails flow all day. But there are lots of other Derby drinks to make, too. So be sure to try one of these cocktails, and let the races begin!

  • Peach Bourbon Sweet Tea Lemonade

    Cooking on the Side

    Sweet tea isn’t just for front-porch sipping anymore. Take it all the way to Churchill Downs by adding in mint and bourbon for a Julep-esque flavor. Grilled peaches and lemons infuse the cocktail with a smoky sweet flavor, and the whole drink can be made in a large batch so you can focus on sipping, not bartending.

  • Matcha Mint Julep

    The Bojon Gourmet

    Missed your morning cup of tea before the race? Get your fix while also getting your booze on with this vibrant Highball. Matcha’s bitter and grassy notes stand up well to bourbon, especially when mixed with spearmint leaves and lemon into a velvety drink you won’t be able to put down.

  • Southern Shandy

    Pretty Plain Janes

    You know how to make a Shandy. Beer + lemonade = summer cocktail goodness. Take it down South with a few glugs of peach brandy, then garnish with lemon and peach slices and serve it in a large punch bowl to keep your Derby party guests happy all afternoon.

  • Lemonade Mint Julep

    Bless Her Heart Y’All

    Brighten up a traditional Mint Julep with this fresh take, which puts lemons front and center alongside the traditional mint and bourbon. If you aren’t a fan of floating pieces of mint, simply add the herb to the simple syrup as its reducing, then strain and serve.

    Continue to 5 of 11 below.
  • Moonshine Pomelo

    The Cottage Market

    This citrusy cocktail is light enough to start off your Derby Day. Shake moonshine, grapefruit juice, grapefruit bitters and simple syrup, then strain into a highball filled with ice and serve topped with a pomelo slice.

  • Frozen Mint Julep

    She Wears Many Hats

    May means much of the country has entered (or is about to enter) summer weather. Cool down from the Kentucky heat with this fun frozen version of the ultimate Derby cocktail. Mint syrup takes the place of fresh mint (to keep the texture smooth), and it’s blended with ice and bourbon for a cool and deceivingly simple sipper.

  • Kentucky Dirty

    Created by Diane

    Bourbon and peach schnapps give a boozy punch to plain iced tea in this down and dirty cocktail. If you like your drinks on the sweeter side, use sweet tea or add in an extra dash of schnapps to the cocktail.

  • Peach Basil Julep

    Spicy Southern Kitchen

    What do you get when you take a traditional Julep and add in peaches and basil in place of lime and mint? This lightly sweet, totally Instagrammable cocktail. Fresh peaches are easy to turn into a homemade purée, and a simple basil syrup adds just enough herbal brightness to pair with bourbon.

    Continue to 9 of 11 below.
  • Kentucky Derby Pie Milkshake

    Camille Styles

    Round out your day of drinking this super indulgent boozy dessert. This milkshake takes all the flavors of Derby Pie, a traditional dessert made with chocolate and walnuts, and throws them into the blender, subbing pecans for the walnuts and adding in a hefty dose of bourbon (naturally).

  • Pink Lily

    Pip and Ebby

    Bourbon is practically required for Kentucky Derby celebrations, but if you can't stomach the brown spirit, try this Cosmopolitan riff instead. Vodka, triple sec, sweet-and-sour mix and cranberry juice give the cocktail a vibrant pink hue and fruity flavor, and fresh blackberries and lemon serve as the perfect springtime garnish.

  • Grapefruit and Thyme Bourbon Smash

    Giraffes Can Bake

    This cocktail is almost prettier than your finest Derby hat. Thyme and lime are muddled together, then mixed with bourbon, grapefruit juice and bitters for a smash that’s super refreshing while still remaining seasonal and festive.