Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The only derby I support: A Derby Bourbon

New rule: when the seasons change, your cocktails should too.

Any chance to play around in my cocktail lab (which covers a generous square foot of space in my apartment), is good fun for me. Know what else is fun? Saying "Derby Bourbon", which has been my after-work drink of choice lately.

While I like the idea of the Kentucky Derby, I don't know that it's quite the event for me—horses and hats and southern elegance are all things I approve of, but staying out in the heat (even with a wide-brimmed hat) for an extremely short race isn't something I imagine I'd be good at handling.

My first experience with the Kentucky Derby was about 7 years ago in D.C. when I was invited to a friend's apartment for a live TV viewing. I had my first Woodford Reserve mint julep at her table and very much enjoyed its smooth, fresh depths. But as I turned to serve myself another generous pour, the race began and finished.

Thus ended my relationship with the Derby event.*

But the Derby cocktail? It's just beginning. It's warm and spiced, but with a freshness from lime and the barest hint of sweetness from triple sec and sweet vermouth. I think you should try it sometime soon:

For 1 Derby cocktail
   1 ounce bourbon whiskey (I've been using a high-rye blend called Redemption**)
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce sweet vermouth (Carpano Antica Formula)
1/2 ounce triple sec (Luxardo Triplum Triple Sec)

Mix and serve over ice.

While we're on the topic of potent drinks, I should also tell you about this tasty squash dish, as it's the perfect chaser, so to speak, for bourbon's wallop. Every year I buy squash because they're so adorable and season appropriate, but I always forget how much of a pain they are to clean and prepare.

But these acorn squashes were fairly easy to turn into a hearty meal. All I did was (carefully) chop them in two, place the halves in a shallow baking pan (cut side down) with a few centimeters of water, and then bake for about an hour.

Then, I turned them right side up and filled them with a cumin and cayenne pepper-spiked mixture of sauteed mushrooms, peppers, onion, chilies, spinach and tomatoes and baked the halves for another 25 minutes or so, turning the broiler on for the last 2 minutes (but not before sprinkling a little feta on top for the always-necessary caramelized crust). 

One year ago: Happy makers

  * Even though I shunned a vital aspect of her Kentucky lineage, we've remained friends.
** Truth be told, the name was half the reason I bought it.


  1. Highly appreciate this post, and definitely planning on testing out this cocktail!

  2. i cant do whiskey at all and im going to this whiskey festival soon. will be thinking of you though.

    1. I like that you're going even though you don't like whiskey :). That's the spirit! (ha!).

  3. delicious stuffed squash and the drink! the drink!!! ps I think tennis would be a great sport for you (to watch), it lasts for HOURS so you can go refill as much as you want and still see plenty of good shots.

    1. Hmm, perhaps I'll just not watch any sport and put on a romcom / foreign espionage flick? ;)


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