Toast Kentucky Derby Day with sweet bourbon cocktails

(Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Garden & Gun)
(Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images for Garden & Gun) /

Put on the best dapper attire and raise a glass to Kentucky Derby Day. With these sweet bourbon cocktails, dessert is in the glass. Even if you are craving a classic mint julep, these cocktails blend classic flavors with a new twist.

Kentucky Derby Day is an all-day event. While the actual race might only be two minutes, the pageantry and spectacle are a whole day affair. Even if you prefer to leave the hat at home and the seersucker suit in the closet, there is something to be celebrated about the day steeped in tradition.

While the mint julep and a pour of Woodford Reserve always deserves a spot in the celebration, the truth is that sometimes a little different approach to those classic flavors can be exciting. This year, instead of serving dessert on a plate, serve it in a glass.

These sweet bourbon cocktails are Kentucky Derby Day perfection.

Churchill Downs has shared various parts of its special menu. While some people will be part of the in-person celebration, everyone can bring a taste of the tradition into their own home. Whether the burgoo will cook all day long or that spoon bread will be the star of the table, the event is not complete without a sweet ending.

Mint Julep Ice Cream Float

Since a mint julep is a Kentucky Derby must, this sweeter version is an adult ice cream float. In many ways, this dessert cocktail could be a summertime must. The combined flavors are perfect on a warm day. And, don’t forget to try both the vanilla and mint chocolate chip ice cream versions.


  • 2 scoops Vanilla or Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
  • ¾ oz. Mint Honey Syrup (or Woodford Reserve Mint Simple Syrup)
  • 1 ½ oz. Woodford Reserve Bourbon
  • Q Kola
  • Dark Chocolate for garnish


  • Scoop ice cream in tall glass
  • Pour syrup and bourbon over ice cream
  • Top with Q Kola
  • Garnished with a paper straw, large sprig of fresh mint and grated dark chocolate

Kentucky Affogato

The combination of coffee and ice cream is a classic beverage. This version of the Italian beverage replaces the coffee with the warm mint syrup. With this cocktail, it might be best to stick with the vanilla ice cream. Too much mint might be a little overwhelming.


  • 1 ½ oz. Woodford Reserve Bourbon
  • ½ oz. Woodford Reserve Mint Syrup
  • 1 scoop Vanilla or Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream
  • Mint Leaves for garnish


  • Pour Woodford Reserve Bourbon into coupe glass (Optional: Warm bourbon and mint syrup together)
  • Scoop ice cream into coupe glass
  • Pour warm mint syrup over ice cream to melt the ice cream
  • Garnish with a lavish mint bouquet
  • * Can sip this cocktail as the ice cream melt or use a spoon to eat like a sweet treat

Twin Spires Slushy

Sometimes it can be fun to feel a little flirty. This cocktail combines flavors that are not usually found in the bourbon glass. If you like a grasshopper, this cocktail is worth a try. Then again, by the end of the day, a little sweet sip could be quite temping.


  • 1 ½ oz. Woodford Reserve Bourbon
  • ½ oz. Simple Syrup
  • ½ oz. White Crème De Cacao
  • ¼ oz. Green Crème De Menthe
  • Mint Leaves for garnish
  • Powdered Sugar for garnish


  • Combine all ingredients except Green Crème De Menthe in a cocktail shaker
  • Shake to chill
  • Pour over crushed ice
  • Float Green Crème De Menthe on top of ice
  • Garnish with a lavish mint bouquet and powdered sugar

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These sweet bourbon cocktails are just a small sampling of the many options that can be served on Kentucky Derby Day. The question on the table may not be which one, but rather, which one first?