The Derby Drink to One-Up Your Juleps

April 24, 2015

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Today: A distant cousin of the mint Julep, for Derby season and well beyond. 

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Twelve hours and 4 minutes. That’s how long it takes to drive from my tiny Brooklyn apartment to Churchill Downs, where the Kentucky Derby is held every first Saturday in May. An hour longer, maybe, if I stop to get a hat. 

It’s got to be a breezier place than where I am: One with slightly retro cheese dips and rolling hills covered with flowing, floral skirts and sled-sized hat brims. There have to be troughs of slushy whiskey cocktails because even though I’ve never been, I know at least this much. There are ponies, lots of them. I would be happy there.  

So while I work on figuring out how I’ll get to Kentucky, (Google reports a 250 hour walk, so that’s out, but I hold out hope for workable bike paths), I’m making a batch of whiskey smashes—a diligent little bridge of a cocktail to get me through searching for routes, and then car rentals, and then car rental rates, the latter of which will probably cause me to make a second batch. 

If you can’t get on the G train to come commiserate in real time, here’s how you can join me: Muddle a little mint and a little lemon in a shaker, then add a barspoon or so each of honey and peach jam. (I like to think of this last part as how we northerners dip our toes into southern hospitality.) In goes the booze, and then you shake, hard. Imagine you’re racing to the finish line! Because you are. 

Dump all of this over a girthy tumbler full of crushed ice, and you’ll end up with a cocktail a bit like a Julep but not one that’s posing. It’s its own cocktail, warm and a only an inch sweet, and it will fuel not only your Derby watching or your subsequent late-spring sunbathing—it will also serve as a bartering tool. As in: Got a car? I make a mean smash. 

Whiskey Peach Smash 

Serves 1 

1 1/2 ounces Bulleit bourbon
1 heaping barspoon peach jam
1 barspoon honey
1 fat lemon wedge
4 to 6 mint leaves 

See the full recipe (and save it and print it) here. 

Photo by James Ransom

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See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Jeff Lopes
    Jeff Lopes
  • laurenlocally
  • Nozlee Samadzadeh
    Nozlee Samadzadeh
  • Kenzi Wilbur
    Kenzi Wilbur
  • Lauren Kelley
    Lauren Kelley
Kenzi Wilbur

Written by: Kenzi Wilbur

I have a thing for most foods topped with a fried egg, a strange disdain for overly soupy tomato sauce, and I can never make it home without ripping off the end of a newly-bought baguette. I like spoons very much.


Jeff L. April 28, 2015
OK to serve in julep cups? I'm always looking for a good reason to use mine.
Author Comment
Kenzi W. April 28, 2015
Absolutely! Do you.
laurenlocally April 27, 2015
12 hours, 14 minutes (10 for the hat)!
Nozlee S. April 24, 2015
"only an inch sweet" -- I'm going to use this expression all the time now.
Lauren K. April 28, 2015
Agree! What a smart phrase (and what a tasty recipe).