The 10 Best Cocktails for Cinco de Derby, Your New Favorite Drinking Holiday

Tequila juleps, bourbon palomas and a $1,500 hybrid

May 3, 2018 9:00 am

Saturday is the best drinking day of the year — two times over.

May 5th is both Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby, or, unofficially, “Cinco de Derby.” Without equating the significance of a major cultural holiday with an event where people wear big hats and watch horses race, let’s discuss the more celebratory aspects. I.e., bourbon. And tequila. And lime. And mint. Maybe some ice.

All are great … but they’re even better combined. So we’ve rounded up 10 cocktail recipes from some of our favorite barkeeps that work for either occasion: tequila juleps, bourbon palomas, etc.

Oh, and one $1,500 hybrid cocktail you’re welcome to buy us if you’re down in Louisville.

Cinco de Mayo Julep
Johnny Swet, JIMMY at the JAMES, NYC

2 oz. silver tequila
.5 oz. lime juice
.75 oz. agave
3 strawberries
5-6 mint leaves
Lime zest

In a cocktail shaker, muddle the strawberries and mint leaves. Add the tequila, lime juice and agave, then shake with ice until chilled. Strain into a julep cup, and swizzle with crushed ice. Garnish the cocktail with lime zest, mint sprigs and sliced strawberries. (Photo courtesy JIMMY at the James)

Mezcal Julep
Courtesy of El Silencio Mezcal

1.5 oz Mezcal El Silencio Espadín
.5 oz Cocchi Vermouth di Torino
.75 oz Simple syrup
Handful of mint

Combine Mezcal El Silencio Espadín, Cocchi Vermouth di Torino and simple syrup in a julep cup. Slap a handful of mint and add it to the mix. Cover with crushed ice and swizzle. Top with more crushed ice if needed, and garnish with a mint sprig.

Green Julep
BarBelly, NYC

1.5 oz Codigo 1530 Blanco
1 oz Merlet Triple Sec
.5 oz lime juice
2 oz green juice (blend of cucumber, mint, celery, dill and honeydew)

Dry-shake all ingredients together and pour into julep cup with cobble ice. Garnish with cucumber and mint.

Blackberry Mint Julep Margarita
Created by Milagro National Ambassador Jaime Salas

2 parts Milagro Anejo
1 part lime juice
1 part honey syrup
5 blackberries
6 mint leaves

Muddle berries and mint. Add the rest of the ingredients, shake and strain over ice in a julep glass. Garnish with blackberries and a mint sprig.

Verde Paloma
Created by mixologist Ricardo Sandoval, Mexico City

1.5 oz. Tequila Don Julio Blanco
.66 oz. fresh lime juice
.5 oz. agave syrup
1 pinch salt
5 mint leaves
San Pellegrino Pompelmo for top
Cucumber and mint for garnish

Combine Tequila Don Julio Blanco, fresh lime juice, agave syrup, a pinch of salt and mint leaves into a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake well. Strain contents into an old-fashioned glass over fresh ice. Top with San Pellegrino Pompelmo. Garnish with cucumber and mint.

Old Man’s Paloma
LeGrande Lounge at The Time New York

2 oz Maker’s Mark
1 0z Fresh Lime
.5 oz Simple Syrup
Ruby Red Grapefruit Juice

Shake and strain into snifter glass. Use a chili lime salt rim.

The Spice Trader
Analogue, NYC

1.5 oz. Tequila Cabeza
.5 oz. lemon juice
.5 oz. lime juice
.5 oz. Green Chartreuse
.5 oz. Creme de mure
.5 oz. molasses
One pinch of fresh mint
3-4 cucumber slices

Activate mint by giving it a quick slap in the palm of your hand and combine with cucumber at the bottom of a shaker. Muddle all fresh ingredients and add the rest. Shake vigorously and double-strain over crushed ice in traditional julep tin. Garnish with cucumber ribbon or slice. (Photo: Asia Coladner)

Sagamore Spirit Ryegarita
Courtesy of Sagamore Spirit

1 oz Sagamore Spirit Rye Whiskey
1 oz Triple Sec
1 oz lime juice
.5 oz agave nectar
Crushed Ice
Sliced jalapeño with or without seeds to taste
Lime for garnish

Combine all ingredients in shaker. Strain into rocks glass over crushed ice. Garnish with lime or sliced jalapeno, depending on heat tolerance.

Earl’s Truck
The Patterson House, Nashville

1 oz anejo tequila
1 oz high rye bourbon
.125 oz honey
.125 oz Benedictine
.375 oz Crema de Mezcal
4 drops Tiki bitters
4 drops mole bitters

Stir on the rocks. Garnish with grapefruit.

Agave Julep
The Brown Hotel, Louisville

Available for purchase at The Brown Hotel lobby bar Sunday, a portion of this $1,500 (!) cocktail will be donated to the Kentucky Humane Society’s (KHS) Equine C.A.R.E.(connect, assist, rescue, educate) Program.

2 oz Patrón en Lalique: Serie 2
.5 oz Old Rip Van Winkle 25 years
Floret of Chocolate Mint
3 drops chocolate bitters
3 key limes
1 handmade sugar rose

Cut the key limes into three slices, keeping the ends. Coat the key limes with sugar (total 6 pieces). Torch the sugar until it’s caramelized. Place the key limes with the sugar on top of ice (caramel facing up). Wait until the caramel solidifies (about 2 min).

Meanwhile: Place about 15 Chocolate Mint Leaves in the julep cup. Pull the caramel from the key limes using a knife (caramel should come up as a circle). While cutting the caramel off the lime, let the juice from the lime drip into the julep.

Place five pieces of the caramel inside the julep cup (keep one for garnish). Add a dash of water to the julep cup and gently press the mint — using the muddler — into the caramel, allowing it to release its oil. Stir with a spoon until the caramel dissolves.

Pour the 2 oz. of the Patrón en Lalique: Serie 2 and the .5 oz of Old Rip Van Winkle into the julep cup. Stir again. Crush the ice on a Lewis bag. Fill the cup with the crushed ice. Stir until the cup freezes, then refill with crushed ice as necessary. Place a nice floret of chocolate mint on the cup and the remaining slice of key lime with caramel as the garnish. Pour the 3 drops of chocolate bitters on top of the crushed ice.

Place a straw in between the mint floret (the floret and the straw should be almost the same size, so when you drink the mint margarita, you can smell the chocolate mint).

Relax. Break a piñata. Admire some horses.


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