Have yourself a very fun Derby Day with wine, beer, and cocktails made for watching the most exciting 2 minutes in sports!
Prepare for the Kentucky Derby — an all-day affair with good food, great drinks, and the best-dressed company. There’s plenty of cocktails, wine, and beer that will work for this fun, spring event. Whether you prefer sipping on a Mint Julep, or drinking wine from a can, this list has you covered!
Just remember to don your biggest hat and break out your best drinkware, so you can sip these Kentucky Derby drinks in Southern style …
Off the track, this drink is the main star of the Derby. And thanks to the recipe from the Kentucky Derby website, you can now make it at home. Muddle the mint at the bottom of your glass to get the strongest, most-refreshing flavor, and buy crushed ice to replicate this cocktail recipe exactly. Of course, you can’t forget your Julep glass! This metal highball keeps your drink cold for longer, and the beaded trim adds extra elegance to your Kentucky Derby cocktail.
Make a run for the roses with the Rose Martini — ideal for anyone who prefers gin over bourbon! It’s a spin on the classic gin martini but with easy-to-make rose-infused simple syrup, for a sweeter, spring-like cocktail. Just beware of serving this strong beverage in a Julep glass — instead, pour into a coup and garnish with a rose petal. Cheers with another (and another) when your horse wins and wears the garland of roses!
Is there anything more Southern than a big glass of sweet tea on a hot day? Take this beverage to the Kentucky Derby party with some Southern Comfort and lemon juice. It’s the easiest pitcher beverage, and one of the most refreshing! Just make sure to label it “Adults Only” so kids at the party don’t pour a glass.
The Jockey Club is essentially a spin on the Manhattan, but with a Derby name! The best part? It requires just three ingredients: Bourbon, Sweet Vermouth, and Maraschino cherry liqueur. Keep a jar of quality cocktail cherries at the ready, so guests can get the ultimate cocktail experience.
As dangerous as “punch” sounds, this Kentucky Derby drink is perfect to sip on all day long (especially if you get tired of the Julep)! Combine bourbon, lemonade, and pomegranate juice for a fruity, refreshing drink. Make it ahead of time, and pour over ice for another bourbon staple your friends won’t stop raving about.
While the Kentucky Derby is known for bourbon cocktails, bubbly is always in style and works just as well as the hard stuff. Pour white wine with bubbles into a Champagne glass to fit the fanfare of Derby Day … or you can just sip it out of the can and make everyone jealous that you can do anything (play games, cheer for the horses, splash around in the pool) while drinking an award-winning wine.
We’ll be honest, we just like that this label has a horse on it. If you’re placing bottles of wine in an ice tub, this is the top choice. And since the Derby is all about spring flavors and bright colors, the Crushed Cherry Rosé is the way to go here.
Aside from wine with bubbles, there’s no better day-drinking wine than a sweet, low-alcohol Riesling. With honeysuckle flavors, nothing says May and summertime like a glass of one of the most underrated wines out there.
Take the orange citrus notes from your favorite bourbon drinks, and bottle it up in a beer! Blue Moon has been a craft beer sponsor of the Derby, and it’s no wonder why. This beer is the best to kick off summer, is a great day-drinking beverage, and can even be incorporated into a Whiskey Moon (a beer/whiskey cocktail).
Clydesdales might be a working horse breed, but Budweiser is a beer with horses in the tradition. Plus, it’s always good to have an easy-drinking beer at the party! Pick up a 12-pack in case your Kentucky Derby shindig runs late into the night.
Erin Hooker is a writer with experience creating wine, food, and interior design content. She began contributing to Graham + Fisk’s blog in 2021.