The Kentucky Derby is this Saturday, and as an ode to our Old Kentucky Home, we’re celebrating with bourbon.
I don’t know much about cocktails. So when I say I’ve invented this new and fantastic cocktail, I may be completely lying. For all I know, people have been making this exact same beverage for years. But it’s new to the Ringer homestead, and that’s enough for me.
This idea came as a spin-off from something I remember our friend Carlo mentioning back in Kentucky: combining Ale-8 and bourbon. Whenever we did this afterwards, we referred to it as having a “Carlo.” (This is not the only food and beverage trend named after a friend. We also have a super secret treat we call “The Chad,” but I’m never sharing that with the world, just in case we ever want to open the best food truck in all the land.)
As born and bred Kentuckians, we know the importance of bourbon. And we know the importance of the Kentucky Derby. These things are closely related, as a zillion ounces of bourbon are consumed at Derby fiestas every year (this statistic has not been confirmed). Generally, the beverage associated with the Kentucky Derby is a mint julep, which is completely delicious, and is generally our beverage of choice when it comes to throwing Derby parties.
This little cocktail is a celebration of Kentucky’s other finest export: Ale-8. If you have never tasted Ale-8, you are completely missing out. I stopped drinking soft drinks somewhere around middle school, but I make an exception for Ale-8. This is mostly acceptable in my mind because we have a very limited stock of it here in Oregon, thanks to my parents driving 6 cases of Ale-8 from Kentucky to Oregon when they came to visit us last year. We only bust it out on special occasions (the start of the UK basketball season, UK basketball tournament games, etc.), and this time around, it made its way into a fun little cocktail.
For those of you without access to Ale-8 (i.e. anyone not in Kentucky), you can substitute ginger ale. Obviously, it will have a little less Kentucky magic in it, but it will still do the trick. And if you serve it at at Kentucky Derby fiesta, we’ll allow it.
You start with some mint leaves, which you muddle with the back end of a wooden spoon until you can smell the mint. Then you add a few ice cubes (crushed ice, if you are fancy; regular cubes if you are still just celebrating having an ice maker in your freezer for the first time ever). Pour in some bourbon and Ale-8, and finish with a bit of fresh squeezed lime.
If you’re looking to serve this up at a Derby fiesta, check out some food and games to go along with it from last year’s Derby party here.
- 15-20 mint leaves
- 6 ice cubes
- ½ cup Kentucky bourbon
- 1 (12 oz) bottle Ale-8 (or regular ginger ale, for those without access to KY's beverage)
- 1 lime
- Divide the mint leaves between 2 glasses. Using the handle of a wooden spoon, muddle the leaves until you can smell the mint pretty strongly.
- Divide the ice cubes between the 2 glasses. Pour ¼ cup Kentucky Bourbon in each glass. Divide the Ale-8 between the two glasses.
- Squeeze the lime juice into each glass (1/2 lime each). Garnish with lime slices or additional mint leaves.
Happy Kentucky Derby!