Fun twists on Kentucky Derby cocktails

The Kentucky Derby, or the greatest two minutes in sports, is symbolized by two main things: big, floppy hats and mint juleps. Every year, people flock to Churchill Downs in Kentucky, donning their most elaborate hats and party dresses and guzzle down factory loads of juleps. As tasty as these libations are, why not add some variety to your Derby drinks this year? These three cocktails are sweet, Southern and add some variety to your party or celebration!

Cherry julep

You certainly can’t watch the Derby without a mint julep, but that doesn’t mean you have to stick to that same drink all day. Instead, switch it up with one of these other tasty Southern drinks that could become just as traditional to your Derby celebrations as the mint julep itself!

Cherry julep

If you want all the deliciously minty taste of a regular mint julep but with a fruity twist, this is your cocktail! Made with a dash of brandy, gin instead of bourbon and maraschino juice, it’s sweet, minty with an earthy, tangy aftertaste.

Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart

Serves 2


  • 1-1/2 teaspoons maraschino cherry juice
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon
  • 2-1/2 ounces gin ( I used Plymouth)
  • 1 ounce cherry brandy
  • Maraschino cherries for garnish
  • Lemon wedge for garnish
  • Mint for garnish


  1. In a martini mixer filled halfway with ice, mix cherry juice, sugar, lemon, gin and cherry brandy, and shake well until sugar dissolves.
  2. Strain mixture into a small whiskey glass filled halfway with ice. Garnish with cherries, lemon wedge and mint and enjoy!

Mint julep margarita

This year, you have more than just the Derby to celebrate on May 5 — it’s also Cinco de Mayo! Instead of drinking a julep and a margarita, why not mix them both together and celebrate the day with one delicious drink? This mint julep margarita tastes just like the mint julep you love, with a margarita taste and flair!

Mint julep margaritaRecipe adapted from All Recipes

Serves 5


  • 10 ounces regular flavored margarita mix
  • 1/2 cup white rum or white bourbon
  • 1/3 cup fresh mint leaves
  • Ice (about 5 cups)


  1. Place all ingredients in a large blender and blend on low until smooth. Serve immediately in a chilled margarita glass and garnish with fresh mint!

High tea cocktail

If there’s one thing Southerners love, it’s some sweet iced tea. This cocktail fuses delicious brewed sweet tea with lemon spiked rum for a zesty, sweet cocktail. This is a great cocktail to make a huge batch of and serve in a large pitcher or Mason jar. Trust me, it’ll go quick, so double or triple the recipe!

High tea cocktailServes 1


  • 2-1/2 ounces lemon rum (I used Bacardi limon)
  • 2 ounces chilled sweet tea (try this recipe!)
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • Lemon wedge for garnish


  1. Mix the rum and sweet tea together. Pour over ice in a high ball glass. Add lemon zest and garnish with a lemon wedge!

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