For the Man, the Kentucky Derby is a fast track to feel your peak
As a connoisseur of the liquid arts, the phrase “I’ll Have Another” generally flows freely from my lips. That being said, I should have taken it as a sign when those three magic words appeared as the name of a horse with 12-to-1 odds running in last year’s Kentucky Derby. But, instead, your Man About TOWN wagered on the favorite, a horse that led most of the race only to be overtaken in the last furlong by I’ll Have Another. After the running, many of us surprised losers stood at the bar, ripping up tickets and yelling the name of the winner to an overworked bartender working at breakneck speed.
They say the Kentucky Derby is the fastest two minutes in sports. More accurately it is a couple of days of highfalutin debauchery masquerading in seersucker and sun hats.
And, man, is it fun. But proper enjoyment of the Derby should not be limited to Louisville. If you have a TV, a tailor, and some decent bourbon, Churchill Downs is as close as your living room. In fact, I myself plan on enjoying this year’s race from the comfort of home, along with some debaucherous friends, highfalutin and otherwise. The key, however, to hosting an authentic Derby party is to dress and drink appropriately, and for that I turn to the experts.
Let’s start with attire. This year marks the 139th running of the Derby, and watching such a prestigious and fashionable event in pleated khakis and a golf shirt seems blasphemous. (Note: pleated khakis are blasphemous, period.) So for a proper Derby outfit, I head to the sartorial master, Rush Wilson. Rush suggests a brick red, windowpane sports coat over a pink, cotton cashmere zip vest, both by Peter Millar. A Gitman Brothers orange and white striped shirt, J.Z. Richards striped tie, and Peter Millar plaid pocket square round out the color. For pants, Rush recommends a light fabric, perhaps a pair of Ballin Super 120’s Gabardine in light tan. And while white bucks might be traditional derby footwear, Rush steers me to a pair of brown Allen Edmonds spectators. As I’m walking out the door, Rush hands me the icing on the cake, a Panama straw hat by Stefano. Sold!
Now on to the question of how to properly indulge my Derby party guests. For that, I turn to Darlene Mann-Clarke, co-owner of American Grocery Restaurant. Darlene is a certified sommelier but, damn, if she doesn’t know her whiskey. Darlene suggests serving two cocktails, Mint Juleps for the men and Derby Cloches for the ladies. Both feature bourbon, or rye in the Julep if you prefer a hint of spice, and each are reliable race-day libations.
And, so, there you have it, the proper outfit and the proper cocktails for a gentleman to enjoy this year’s Kentucky Derby in style. When you look and feel this good, you don’t care where your horse places—hell, you may even forget to watch the race.
2 oz bourbon or rye
5 mint leaves
1 oz simple syrup
Few dashes of Fee Brothers Mint Bitters
Sterling-silver cup (or your preferred glass)
Muddle mint leaves, mint bitters, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker.
Add bourbon or rye. Dry-shake ingredients. Place crushed ice in cup and
pour ingredients over. Serve with a straw.
1.5 oz bourbon
5 fresh raspberries
3 mint leaves
0.5 oz lime juice
0.5 oz simple syrup
0.5 oz St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, muddle fresh raspberries and mint. Add bourbon, simple syrup, and St. Germain. Shake until chilled; strain into a coupe cocktail glass.