Celebrate The Kentucky Derby With Fun Frolicking Cocktails

I love the Kentucky Derby! The hats! The food! The horses! And especially the cocktails. Please join me in making fun frolicking cocktails for the big day. Here’s some of my favorite Derby Day cocktail recipes including some with the magical combination of summer flavors – lemonade, fresh mint, bourbon and cherries.

Classic Mint Julep

Prep Time 10 mins
Course Drinks
Servings 1


  • 8 mint leaves
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • crushed ice
  • mint sprigs for garnish


  • In a julep cup or rocks glass, lightly muddle the mint leaves in the simple syrup.
  • Add the bourbon, then pack the glass tightly with crushed ice.
  • Stir until the cup is frosted on the outside.
  • Top with more crushed ice and garnish with a mint sprig.

Fire and Ice Kentucky Lemonade

Course Drinks
Servings 8 cups


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh lemon juice equals about 6 lemons
  • 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves + mint sprigs for garnish
  • 2/3 cup bourbon
  • 4 cups ginger ale
  • large ice cubes
  • 12 segments fresh Mandarin oranges
  • Maker's Mark Bourbon Cherries for garnish
  • 8 very thin slices Serrano peppers, seeds and membrane removed adjust the number of slices to taste – these peppers can be very hot
  • fine caster sugar and lemon wedges for cocktail glass rim available locally at Fresh Market


  • In a small saucepan, make a simple syrup by combining granulated sugar and water over medium heat. Stir and heat until sugar dissolves into water and mixture is clear. Simmer for one minute, then remove from heat.
  • Add lemon juice, mint leaves, Serrano pepper slices and bourbon to simple syrup, then let mixture cool.
  • Pour mixture through a fine strainer into a pitcher to remove solid pepper slices and mint leaves.
  • Rim cocktail glasses with fine sugar. To rim glasses place fine sugar on a small plate. Rub the edge of each cocktail glass with a lemon wedge. Roll the edge of the glass in the fine sugar.
  • For each lemonade cocktail, mix 1/2 cup lemonade mixture to 1/2 cup ginger ale and stir to combine. Add 2 or more large ice cubes and 2 mandarin orange segments.
  • Garnish with Maker's Mark Bourbon Cherries and a sprig of mint.

Woodford Reserve Bourbon is the presenting sponsor of the Kentucky Derby.

Porch Swing Cocktail

This delightful cocktail recipe is compliments of Woodford Reserve Bourbon
Prep Time 10 mins
Course Drinks
Servings 1


  • 1 1/2 ounce Woodford Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce honey
  • 6 ounces peach tea
  • slice of peach or lemon wheel for garnish


  • Combine ingredients into a tall glass and stir.
  • Garnish with a slice of peach or lemon wheel.

Cherry Bourbon Lemonade

Prep Time 10 mins
Course Drinks
Servings 1


  • 6 sweet cherries, pitted
  • 2 ounces fresh lemonade
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 1.5 ounces bourbon
  • 1 TB maraschino cherry liqueur
  • 2 TB tart cherry juice
  • 1 Maraschino cherry with stem for garnish


  • Gently muddle the cherries in a cocktail glass. Fill the glass with crushed ice.
  • Place remaining ingredients to a cocktail shaker with a few ice cubes. Shake vigorously, then strain into the prepared cocktail glass. Garnish with maraschino cherry with stem.

Southern Sweet Peach Tea Cocktail

Secret ingredient in this cocktail – peach preserves!
Prep Time 10 mins
Course Drinks
Servings 1


  • 2 ounces Firefly Sweet Tea Vodka
  • 1 ounce peach schnapps
  • 1 TB peach preserves
  • Lemon slice and mint sprig for garnish


  • Place sweet tea vodka, peach schnapps and peach preserves in a cocktail shaker with ice. Cover and shake vigorously.
  • Remove shaker top and stir to make sure peach preserves are mixed into cocktail. Strain into chilled cocktail glass or mason jar. Garnish with lemon slice and mint sprig.

French 95

The French 95 is a fun twist on the classic French 75 (gin + lemon juice + champagne). The French 95 is like a mimosa with bourbon. Running the orange peel around the stem of the glass will infuse the stem with a bit of orange aroma that will get on your fingers when you drink the cocktail. You will pick up the scent from your fingers as you drink your cocktail.
Prep Time 10 mins
Course Drinks
Servings 1


  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 ounce bourbon
  • 2 ounces chilled champagne
  • Thin strip orange peel and thin strip lemon peel for garnish
  • Fresh raspberries for garnish


  • Place a handful of ice cubes in cocktail shaker.
  • Add bourbon, lemon juice, orange juice and simple syrup in to cocktail shaker.
  • Cover cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Run the orange peel around the rim and stem of a champagne flute. Place the orange peel and lemon peel in the chamapagne flute.
  • Strain cocktail into the champagne flute. Top with chilled champagne. Garnish with fresh raspberries.

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