Three Kentucky Traditions to Celebrate on the First Saturday in May: Bourbon, The Derby and the Two-Dollar Bet

By Suzanne Corbett, Food/Travel Editor

Time to celebrate the first Saturday in May. It’s  Derby Day, time to embrace the traditions of fast horses, Bourbon and the $2 dollar bet. A day, which for many race fans,  begins with making that bet and the bug decision on which horse to pick. A decision that has has become a nail biter.

Omaha Beach, the 4 -1 favorite was scratched due to a cough, which was diagnosed as an entrapped epiglottis. An easily treatable non-career threatening condition. Next, the long 30-1 longshot Haikal was been scratch for another health issue. Remaining in the 21 horse field are three trained by Derby winner trainer Bob Baffert, Game Winner, Roadster and Improbable.  All well worth placing the ever popular $2 bet to win, place or show,  based solely on their Baffert connection. Yet, others wish to check and digest the race forms.

kentuckyderbylogoIt’s anyone’s race. Even Baffert has been reported to say anyone could win. Yet, for those who enjoy pouring over the race sheets, checking the odds and the latest stats , it can become nerve racking. Some claim the ordeal of picking a winner could drive one to drink. Well, maybe not. But if it does, make it a Mint Julep or a Spire made with Churchill Downs official Bourbon, Woodford Reserve.

Mint juleps back in the day – the mid to late 19th century – was originally a morning drink, the spirited equivalent to coffee today. No surprise that the drink started showing up at regional horse races, where the mint julep made the transition from a morning drink to a sipping cocktail. Certainly, no Kentucky Derby would be complete without this venerable cocktail. And thanks to the recent creative cocktail trend, another drink has made it way to the Derby, The Spire, mixed with lemonade, cranberry and bitters.  Both prefect for today’s race as well as drinks to be enjoyed throughout the sprig race season.

Give one a try.  Whether or not your horse comes in, Woodford Reserve and Churchill Downs  considers either a winning choice to toast today’s Derby winner.


Sat, May 4th 12-2:30 PM Kentucky Derby Undercard- Live Coverage NBCSN
Sat., May 4th 2:30 PM Kentucky Derby – Live Coverage NBC

* Watch it on KSDK in St. Louis

MInt_Julep-2.jpgThe Official Kentucky Derby Mint Julep

3-5 mint leaves

1teaspoon Powdered Sugar

2t teaspoon Water

2 oz. Woodford Reserve Bourbon

Crushed Ice

Muddle (stir/gentle crush) four mint springs and sugar in the bottom of a julep glass. Add water, continuing to muddle contents to a paste. Add Woodford Reserve Bourbon. Pack the julep glass with crushed ice. Garnish with a mint spring for and don’t forget the sipping straw.

If a metal julep cup is used, be sure to use a wooden muddler (bottom of a wooden spoon) instead of metal spoon to eliminate the possibility of scratching your julep cup.


derby_bottle_and_spiresThe Woodford Spire


1 ½ ounces Woodford Reserve Bourbon

2 ounces fresh lemonade

1 pounce cranberry juice

Squeeze of lemon

Dash of bitters

Lemon peel garnish

Full a cup with crushed ice.  Stir all ingredients together, pour over ice and garnish with lemon peel.

From KSDK: The Clydesdales have been seen far and wide from marching in the World Series Parade to appearances at countless Super Bowls, yet this will mark the first time that the iconic beasts walk the track at the world’s most revered racing grounds.
Photos: The official drinks of The Kentucky Derby: The Woodford Spire, named for the Double Spires at Churchill Downs, and the Iconic Mint Julep, the traditional drink that’s been served since the Derby’s first running.
Photo Credit: Woodford Reserve Bourbon and Churchill Downs.