Derby season is in full swing, and drinking is always in season here in Louisville, so it’s only natural to combine the two. I briefly sat down and had a conversation with Eron Plevan, the bartender at The Oakroom, and had one simple question: what are the best Derby cocktails?
His first answer was obvious, the Mint Julep. It’s THE Derby drink consisting of bourbon (duh), sugar, water, and mint over crushed ice. This Derby classic is well known and well liked.
Another well-liked but not as well-known drink for the Derby is the Oaks Lily. It’s perfect for the locals who want to get why-did-I-wear-heels-drunk on the infamous Oaks day. Greygoose and cranberry juice mix perfectly with sweet and sour and triple sec over crushed ice to make this one hell of a strong drink. Perfect for Louisvillians.
After the two obvious drinks, Eron gave me what he felt were the next top three for this year’s Derby, from his experience. First, an Old Fashioned. Whiskey (ahem, bourbon), bitters, simple syrup, water, an orange slice and a cherry come together to make this classic Kentucky cocktail. Yum.
Next up was a Sidecar, which isn’t usually brought up for Derby season, but is a great fit. This sour dream has brandy (or bourbon…), orange liqueur, and lemon. You can Derby up this drink however you like—a sugar rim, perhaps.
The last drink Eron shared with me for this year’s Derby season is the Seelbach Cocktail. The Oakroom is located within the historic hotel, and is a great place to stop in before getting shuttled (no drinking and driving, folks) to Churchill Downs. This famous cocktail is made with bourbon, champagne, and Peychaud’s and Angostura bitters. You can have Eron make you one while you wait for your shuttle.
This years Derby is sure to be a hit, especially with these great cocktails in your hand. Try one of each (or three of each—it’s Derby, after all!) Most importantly, drink responsibly, and we’ll see you at the race! Have a fun and awesome Derby, everyone!