Signature Kentucky Cocktails You Need to Try

Signature Kentucky Cocktails You Need to Try

Let’s begin by stating the obvious: fried chicken isn’t the sole thing Kentucky is renowned for. Okay, and it isn’t the 90s Louisville underground music scene either, dear users of RYM (Rate Your Music). There are many things this US state is recognized by, and one of those things is its set of signature cocktails you need to try. Okay, does the name Mint Julep ring a bell? If not, there’s a lot you still have to learn. Luckily, we’ve put together a list of signature Kentucky cocktails you, by all means, need to try. Stay tuned for valuable info that also might get you a little tipsy!

A disclaimer before we start: the numbers are purely decorative. It’s no contest or something. All of these cocktails are equal in their amazingness.

#1 Mint Julep

Now, here’s one that they call “the signature drink of the Kentucky Derby.” We’re talking about a simple yet fantastic combo of bourbon, muddled mint, mint sprigs, and simple syrup. A combo that’s served over crushed ice in a stainless-steel cup. That is THE drink that will get you through a hot Kentucky summer. Don’t believe us? Ask the locals. They’ll also probably point out the health benefits of drinking bourbon you won’t be able to disprove.

How exactly do you make a Mint Julep?

Okay, here’s a little guide on how to prepare a Mint Julep. First, you’ll need to obtain the following ingredients:

  • Eight mint leaves.
  • 1/4 ounce of simple syrup.
  • 2 ounces of bourbon.
  • Some mint sprigs for garnish.

You’ll need to gently muddle the mint leaves mixed with simple syrup in a so-called Julep cup. Afterward, add the 2 ounces of bourbon, and fill the glass nicely with crushed ice. Stir until you notice that the exterior of the Julep cup is frosted. Lastly, just put some more crushed ice to make a dome, and garnish the whole thing with a mint sprig or two. You can add a couple of bitter drops, but that’s only optional. Now, if this doesn’t make you travel across the country to enjoy a Mint Julep on a warm Kentucky day, we don’t know what will. If you agree, why don’t you join forces with the pros and move to Kentucky? You won’t be the first to relocate because of a cocktail (or a couple of them).

A glass of bourbon next to some fire.
You’ll find bourbon in most signature Kentucky cocktails.

#2 Kentucky Gambler Punch

This one doesn’t have a history like the Mint Julep, but it’s still an exciting cocktail. As the name suggests, this one’s for the experienced folks who could take a punch. Of course, we’re just kidding. Anyone old enough to drink alcohol legally can enjoy the Kentucky Gambler Punch, one of the signature Kentucky cocktails you need to try. So, what’s so special about this cocktail? Well, it’s pretty famous for being the cocktail of choice for many Kentucky residents, who easily quench their thirst with help from their punchy gambler friend.

PS. We know that punch stands for the drink, not something certain drunk people aren’t so reluctant to do.

How exactly do you make a Kentucky Gambler Punch?

Here are the things you’ll need to gather for this one:

  • One bottle of Woodford Reserve (Kentucky’s trademark bourbon).
  • About two liters of freshly brewed tea.
  • Half a cup of sugar.
  • Some 15 lemons (quite a lot of lemons, right?)
  • Some 15 sprigs of mint (quite a lot)
  • A single large punch bowl (obviously).

Gathered everything? If so, let’s begin! Start by peeling the lemons while avoiding as much pith as possible. Next, put the peels into the large punch bowl with the sugar. You’ll want to set aside ten sprigs of mint and pick their leaves as the savage you are and place the leaves next to the peels. Don’t mind the corniness. Brew the tea directly into the punch bowl with your other ingredients: lemon peel, sugar, mind, and squeezed lemon. Mix well, then give your mixture some time to cool off. Once it’s not hot anymore, add some ice and, of course, Woodford Reserve.

A person holding a fist.
Nope, not that punch. We want the Kentucky Gambler’s Punch.

#3 The Kentucky Mule

We’ve all heard of the famous Moscow Mule (a refreshing combo of vodka, lime, and ginger beer). It’s like one of the most popular cocktail drinks in the whole country. However, how many of you have heard about The Kentucky Mule? Now, as you could’ve noticed, there wasn’t a single cocktail recipe on this list that didn’t contain bourbon. Also, Kentucky as a state is quite renowned for its bourbon tours. Therefore, once you add 2 and 2, you’ll figure out that in The Kentucky Mule, bourbon takes the place of vodka. The best thing about this cocktail is that almost absurdly easy to make.

Okay, and how exactly do you make The Kentucky Mule?

Let’s hear for the ingredients:

  • Two ounces of bourbon (for a cocktail night, you might as well buy five bottles of it, or so it seems).
  • Half an ounce of freshly squeezed lime juice.
  • Ginger beer.
  • Mint sprigs as garnish.

Once you gather the necessities, simply mix the combo of bourbon and lime inside a mug specially designed for the Moscow Mule or an ordinary highball glass. Afterward, fill the container with ice and top it off with some good old ginger beer. Lastly, garnish your Kentucky Mule with a mint spring.

Oh, and here’s a fun fact: The Kentucky Mule is the favorite drink of folks behind the Best Long Distance Movers database. However, they strongly advise you to be relatively modest in your approach. 

#4 Oakes Lilly

Last but stated above, not least on our list of signature Kentucky cocktails you need to try, let’s give a warm welcome to the famous Oaks Lilly (named after the 2nd most popular Kentucky race). If you’ve liked Cosmopolitan, you’ll probably like Oakes Lilly.

A person making a cocktail.
If you’ve loved Cosmpolitan, chances are that you’ll like Oakes Lilly, too.

How exactly do you make an Oakes, Lilly?

Here’s a list of ingredients:

  • One and a half ounces of vodka.
  • Half an ounce of orange liqueur.
  • Three ounces of cranberry juice.
  • Half an ounce of squeezed lemon juice.
  • Half an ounce of simple syrup.
  • Two blackberries and a lemon wheel for garnish.

This one’s pretty simple, too: just gather all the ingredients into a highball glass. Once that’s done, fill the glass with ice. Stir gently to combine the ingredients, and that’s pretty much it! Oh, and don’t forget to decorate with two skewered blackberries and a lemon wheel.

Final thoughts

Alright, folks, these were the signature Kentucky cocktails you must try. If that wasn’t so evident before, now it is! We hope this article inspires you to throw an unforgettable Kentucky cocktail party, no matter where you’re coming from!

Let us help you make your next family or friend gathering special, educational, and memorable.

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