Kentucky Derby Cocktails: Mint Juleps and More

pineapple mint julep

Pineapple-Ginger Mint Julep from the Kitchn

It’s almost Derby Day, and no Derby Party is complete without Mint Juleps. However, there are lots of fun ways to play with this classic recipe. So drink up and watch the horsies, y’all!

Traditional Mint Julep ~ The basic version is anything but boring. Put on your fancy hat and have one.

Peach Mint Julep ~ Refreshing and fun, this twist on the Mint Julep brings some Georgia into your Kentucky drink.

Strawberry Moonshine Julep ~ Moonshine is a bit of a misnomer. Let’s call it unaged whiskey. Either way, throw in some strawberries and you have one heck of a cocktail.

Pineapple-Ginger Mint Julep ~ Behold! The powerful combination of mint and pineapple. In Julep form. Yum.

Jalepeño-Spiked Julep ~ Infusing simple syrup with spicy jalapeño peppers and putting it with cooling mint mixes makes for an “icy-hot take on the Derby classic.”

Using Egg Whites in Cocktails

Cotogna’s Aperol Fizz from Serious Eats

Egg whites add a lovely foam and velvety texture to cocktails. It’s like your cocktail is wearing a jaunty white cap! Eggs are a little tricky to use, but totally worth it. I love how a cocktail made with egg white is both light and creamy at the same time.

Here are few tips on how to do it, and then some delicious recipes to try!

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G’Vine Gin Review

lemonginandtonicThere’s a lot of variety between different styles of gin. From juniper-intense London Dry gin to softer International Gins with a variety of botanical flavors … there’s a gin for every palate. If you like floral gins (which I really do!), I recently tried one from France that I’d highly recommend: G’Vine.

G’Vine is made from Ugni Blanc grapes that are pressed and converted into wine and then distilled into a neutral grape spirit. This base is mixed with grape vine flowers and other botanicals including juniper (of course) ginger, lime and green cardamom. The result is a delicate and lightly sweet gin that pairs really well with fruit and herbal flavors. The ginger balances nicely with the sweeter aspects, giving it a bit of a kick.

If you’re the type who likes to make up new cocktail recipes with fresh ingredients (Ahem, like the recipes the book DIY Cocktails talks about), then this is a good gin to experiment with. If you like Hendrick’s Gin, G’Vine may be right up your alley. (At about $35, G’Vine is at a similar price to Hendrick’s.)

If you only like super intense juniper London Dry gin, this probably isn’t going to do it for you. But it does make a mean Gin & Tonic. I like to use Meyer Lemon instead of lime as an accent for a G&T made with G’Vine. This would also be a good candidate for my favorite variety of G&T: gin, tonic, generous squeeze of grapefruit juice and a few dashes of DIY Rhubarb Bitters.

Strawberry Cocktail Recipes

strawberry tarragon cocktail

Strawberry Tarragon Smash from Brooklyn Supper

It’s strawberry time, everybody! This little red berry is cocktail-ready. Smash it, make it into syrup, make it into a liqueur … strawberry is here to help your cocktail game. Here are a few strawberry cocktails to liven up your weekend.

Strawberry-Balsamic Tequila Sour ~ Strawberries and balsamic vinegar are a winning combo. Add in some tequila and lime, and you have something grand.

Strawberry Tarragon Smash ~ This recipe uses vodka, but it would work well with gin as well. Smash it up!

Strawberry Champagne ~ “This Champagne cocktail looks proper posh, tastes out of this world and is an absolute doddle.” I don’t think I could describe it any better that Jamie Oliver.

Strawberry Moonshine Julep ~ Here’s a fun one with white whiskey that’s a good patio sipper.

Strawberry Cooler ~ Vermouth gives this refreshing strawberry and vodka cocktail a surprising twist.

Cuba Libre With Rhum Agricole (Rhum & Agri-Cola)

Cuba Libra Rhum AgricoleSometimes all you want is a simple cocktail — one that doesn’t involve a long list of ingredients and fancy techniques. But just like there are lots of ways to dress up a Gin & Tonic, there are also a variety of ways to have a Rum & Coke. The simplest adjustment is to add a little lime, which turns it into a Cuba Libre.

But to really have something that different without a lot of effort, try using rhum agricole in place of your go-to rum. This funky spirit is a cousin to rum, but there’s more difference than just adding an “h” to the name. Rhum agricole is distilled from sugar cane juice (instead of molasses). This gives it a fresh, vegetal quality that’s very different from rum. If you love Tiki drinks, then you need a bottle of rhum in your bar.

Using rhum in a Cuba Libre makes for a layered and complex drink that’s just as easy to make as a Rum & Coke. I used Neisson rhum agricole, which is the easiest to find. But there are a lot of great rhums out there, including a California version from St. George Spirits. You can use good old American Coke, Mexican Coke or your favorite small-batch, artisanal fancy-face cola.

Cuba Libre (Rhum & Agri-Cola)

2 ounces rhum agricole
Cola
Lime

Pour the rhum into a tall glass with crushed ice. Top off with cola and a squeeze of lime. Garnish with a lime wedge or two. (I used a small glass and cube ice to make a smaller version for this photo. Either way, adjust cola amount to taste.)