Go beyond the Mint Julep recipe with these race day cocktails for Melbourne Cup

With Melbourne Cup just a few days away, we thought we’d check out a few options for your menus (or, if you get to avoid working for the horse racing hordes, for your drinking).

Of course, there’ll be plenty of Mint Juleps on menus thanks to the Kentucky Derby’s embrace of the drink (and, you know, bourbon and mint and sugar and ice is delicious), so we’ve got that below; there’s also a few other options that go beyond the old Julep approach.


Turf Cocktail

30ml gin
30ml dry vermouth
2 dashes maraschino liqueur
2 dashes bitters
2 dasher absinthe

Stir and strain into a chilled coupette. Garnish with a lemon twist.


The history of the Turf Cocktail is a long one with different versions popping up in different books from way back — MacElhone has a version (similar to Harry Johnson’s in the 1900 edition his Bartender’s Manual), but the first mention of it goes back to George Kappeler’s Modern American Drinks in 1895.


Mint Julep Recipe

60ml Bourbon
8-10 large mint leaves
Heaped teaspoon of fine white sugar
Dash of spring water

Gently muddle mint, sugar and a dash of water in a Julep cup. Add Bourbon and leave to stand for a couple of minutes – this will allow the mint flavour to infuse the spirit. Half fill the glass with crushed ice and stir well. Fill the remainder of the glass with crushed ice. You will know your julep is ready when bits of ice cling to the side of the glass. Garnish with a mint sprig.


The Brown Derby #2

60ml bourbon
30ml freshly squeezed pink grapefruit juice
15ml honey 1:1

Add all ingredients to a shaker and shake briskly. Garnish with a grapefruit zest.

There are a couple of Brown Derby’s about. The one featured here is often referred to as the #2 version and is attributed to a defunct Hollywood restaurant chain of the same name. It is however, unlikely that the Brown Derby restaurant invented this tipple especially as a cocktail by the name of De Rigueur appears in Harry Craddock’s Savoy Cocktail Book with a remarkably similar formula. Whatever the case, Los Angeles’ bars now celebrate the Brown Derby as one of their own. And why not? It’s a tasty enough tipple that you’ll want to claim one for yourself.

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