7 Kentucky Bourbon Cocktails

Drinks to celebrate the Kentucky Derby... besides the Mint Julep

The mint julep rules the racetrack bar at The Kentucky Derby. Everybody knows this.

The signature cocktail of Churchill Downs since 1938, it's estimated that more than 120,000 juleps are served over the course of the weekend. (For numbers junkies, that's an order requiring over 1,000 pounds of mint and 60,000 pounds of ice.) And to be sure, the blooming spearmint bouquet that caps this cocktail's liquor-soaked mountain of crushed ice is as iconic as those flashy hats the ladies wear.

As such, if you're hosting a Derby viewing party this weekend there's simply no question: Mint juleps are a menu must. But if you're going to stock up on all that great Kentucky bourbon, why not expand the offerings to include a few other cocktails that feature the spirit? 


Louisville Cooler

To honor the city that is home to the big race, whip up this refreshing cocktail — a citrusy-sweet mix of orange juice, lime juice, powdered sugar, and (of course) bourbon.


Kentucky Mule

Between the ginger beer and splash of lime juice, this cocktail is a little like a bourbon-based riff on the Dark 'n' Stormy.


Kentucky B&B

Using only two ingredients — the second "B" in the name stands for Bénédictine, a French herbal liqueur — this dry, made-for-sipping cocktail is as straightforward as they come.


Kentucky Cocktail

This equally easy-to-make drink puts the bourbon center stage — mixing it simply with pineapple juice. Served straight up in a martini glass, some opt to garnish with a Maraschino cherry. 


Derby Cocktail

This appropriately named drink, featured in author Ted Haigh's Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails, combines bourbon with sweet vermouth, orange curaçao, and fresh lime juice.


Kentucky Sidecar

This Derby Day alternative to the julep is actually a play on another classic cocktail: the Sidecar. Calling for fresh lemon and tangerine juice, it spotlights the well-matched pairing of tangy citrus and smoky bourbon.


Midnight Cowboy


For more something a little more rich and creamy, try this concoction made with bourbon, rum, and heavy cream. (Probably best enjoyed post-race.)