Winning Kentucky Derby Cocktails that skip the muddled mint

Crown Mule
Crown Mule / Q Mixers

While the iconic Mint Julep might be the cocktail associated with the Kentucky Derby, it does not have to be the only beverage in the glass. These Kentucky Derby Cocktails skip the muddled mint but bring refreshing flavor.

Given its Louisville locale, bourbon is often the more common pour at Churchill Downs. From Old Forester being the official Mint Julep spirit to the indulgent, over the top Woodford Reserve Julep, America’s spirit is everywhere.

This year, another cocktail is racing to the head of the pack and will definitely “place” as a new favorite option. The Crown Mule, made with the Q Mixers Tropical Ginger Beer, offers a bright, refreshing take on a Derby Day cocktail.

Crown Mule


1.5 oz Tequila Herradura Reposado

4 oz. Q Tropical Ginger Beer

1 Fresh Lime


Build in a copper mug or rocks glass over ice. Pour in Tequila Herradura Reposado. Add Q Tropical Ginger Beer and stir gently. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lime. Garnish with a lime wheel or wedge.

While the Crown Mule might be a newer offering at Churchill Downs, the Woodford Reserve Spire is always a favorite. This easy sipper has some people not realizing the punch it packs. Even though the flavor is quite refreshing, it is best to sip with caution.

Woodford Spire Kentucky Derby Cocktail
Woodford Spire / Woodford Reserve

Woodford Reserve Spire


1.5 oz. Woodford Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey

2 oz. Lemonade

1 oz. Cranberry Juice


Add ingredients to mixing glass and stir. Pour over ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.

While various Brown Foreman Spirits are featured during the Kentucky Derby, another bourbon brand celebrates the sports jockey heritage. Old Hillside is a Black-owned bourbon brand that seeks to honor the legacy of black jockeys. Even though winning horses are draped in those iconic roses, the sport is nothing without its jockeys.

Although some names might fill the racing books, black jockeys have a difficult history with the sport. This year, Old Hillside, who is committed empowering Black entrepreneurs, celebrates some riders with specialty cocktails for Derby Day.

One cocktail is named for Isaac Murphy, who is considered the greatest jockey of all time. His 44% winning percentage has never been matched. A three-time Kentucky Derby winner, his place in racing history is deserves a moment to toast.

The Isaac Murphy cocktail is an easy sip. The combination of rye and tea is refreshing on a warm spring day. With a hint of tartness, it is a great toast for the 150th race.

Old Hillside Kentucky Derby Cocktails
Old Hillside Kentucky Derby Cocktails / Old Hillside

Isaac Murphy


1.5 ounces Old Hillside Rye

2 ounces Sweetened Iced Tea (or your preferred tea)

0.5 ounces Lemon Juice

2 dashes Orange Bitters


Assemble ingredients in a shaker tin without ice. Shake. Add ice and shake for another 30 seconds. Pour into rocks glass. Garnish with lemon wedge.

Another bourbon forward cocktail that brings the sweetness with some nuance is the Angel's Envy Kentucky Buck. The combination of strawberry and lemon is sweet and tart. It pairs perfect with some traditional Kentucky food options.

Angel's Envy Kentucky Buck


2 oz ANGEL'S ENVY Bourbon Finished in Port Wine Barrels

1/2 oz fresh lemon juice

1/2 oz simple syrup

1 oz strawberry

2 dashes Angostura bitters

3 oz ginger beer


Muddle the strawberry in a cocktail shaker.

Add all ingredients, except the ginger beer, into the cocktail shaker.

Fill shaker with ice and shake.

Strain over fresh ice into a Collins glass. Top with ginger beer and enjoy.

These Kentucky Derby Cocktails are just a few ideas to enjoy during the annual Run for the Roses. Plan a dapper look, enjoy some burgoo, and toast to a tradition that lasts far longer than the two minutes of the celebrated race.