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Mint Julep and Beyond: 9 Bourbon Cocktails Worth Making for Derby Day

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Bourbon whiskey is the base spirit of iconic drinks like the mint julep and the old fashioned, and while they are deservedly famous, there are some lesser-known bourbon cocktails worth making out. In honor of Derby Day–and while you’re getting out the bourbon to whip up a batch of mint juleps–give these other fabulous bourbon cocktails a try.

  • Recipe

    The Boulevardier

    This is a thinker’s cocktail and a delightful sipper. For a less bitter and more approachable drink, this version uses Aperol in place of the traditional Campari.

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  • Recipe

    The Greenbrier’s Mint Julep

    The mint julep's history is about as muddled as the mint in this drink. Some say it was the Virginians who first took this drink, while others believe it originated in Kentucky. Rather than using simple syrup, as most do now, it originally called for sugar and water to be muddled with the mint. The Greenbrier hotel and resort was probably the first to offer the julep, at its lobby bar, and more than likely gussied it up with a silver cup.

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  • Recipe

    The Old Fashioned

    The Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky, lays claim to being the birthplace of the Old Fashioned. It was first mixed either by or in honor of Colonel James E. Pepper, a proprietor of a celebrated whiskey distillery of the period. The first record of the Old Fashioned in print is in Modern American Drinks (1895) by George J. Kappeler.

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  • Recipe

    Spicy Bourbon Sidecar

    A double dose of ancho—in the syrup and in powder form on the rim of the glass—gives this cocktail a nice hit of tingly warmth.

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  • Recipe

    Bourbon Hot Toddy

    While a hot toddy can’t cure a cold or the flu—as it was thought to do when the drink was invented in the late 19th century—it sure can soothe the soul.

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  • Recipe

    Summer Bourbon-Cherry Fizz

    The raisiny flavor of an ancho chile gives a lovely base note to this drink, bringing together the cherries and the bourbon.

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  • Recipe

    The Moderne

    While it is a nod to the venerable old-fashioned, there’s certainly nothing quaint about this big-flavored drink. Elderflower and bitters make this something special.

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    Recipe

    The Seelbach Cocktail

    The Seelbach was invented just before Prohibition at the Seelbach Hotel in Louisville, Kentucky. The recipe was lost for many years but later unearthed and once again made at the hotel.

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  • Recipe

    Derby Day Mint Julep Cocktail

    There are as many variations of the mint julep as there are thoroughbreds that have run in the Kentucky Derby, which is when this sweet concoction is traditionally served. While it's often stirred with ice in a silver cup; this version calls for shaking with a slice of lemon for a frothy, refreshing drink.

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