Food & Drink

How to Make the Triple Crown Cocktails (with a Few Twists)

A Louisville mixologist shakes up the signature drinks of horse racing’s signature showdowns

In the history of Thoroughbred racing, only thirteen horses have won the coveted Triple Crown—the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore, and the Belmont Stakes in New York. One of them is Secretariat, who did so in 1973 in such commanding fashion that he still holds the fastest time in all three races. In honor of the upcoming Derby weekend (May 5–6) and the fiftieth anniversary of Secretariat’s domination, we’ve rounded up recipes to toast each of the events, with a little help from Greg Galganski, lead bartender at Proof on Main in Lousiville’s 21c Museum Hotel. Because drinking them all is its own kind of achievement.

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A Royal Line Mint Julep

Galganski has taken the official drink of the Kentucky Derby and given it a splash of summer. With a good bourbon and rum, his version is sure to soften even the least favorable bets on Derby day. 


    • 1½ oz. bourbon (Woodford Reserve preferred)

    • ½ oz. pineapple rum (Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple preferred)

    • ¼ oz. Maraschino liqueur (Galganski uses Maraska and “fat-washes” it in coconut oil 24 hours in advance)

    • ½ oz. simple syrup (Galganski uses a homemade grilled pineapple lemon oleo)

    • 6 mint leaves


  1. In a julep cup, gently press mint leaves, fill halfway with crushed ice, add remaining ingredients, swizzle, and top with crushed ice. Garnish with mint sprigs, powdered sugar, and a lemon wheel.

Grilled Pineapple Black-Eyed Susan

The winner of the Preakness Stakes rides away in a blanket of bright yellow blossoms—Maryland’s state flower and the namesake of the race’s official drink. A made-in-advance, lightly charred pineapple syrup adds complexity to the classic fruity sipper.


    • 1½ oz. bourbon

    • ½ oz. pineapple rum (Plantation Stiggins’ Fancy Pineapple preferred)

    • ½ oz. dry curaçao

    • ¾ oz. grilled pineapple syrup (recipe follows)

    • ¾ oz. lemon juice

    • Garnish: angostura bitters, orange wheel, cherry

  • For the grilled pineapple syrup:

    • Equal parts pineapple and sugar


  1. Make the grilled pineapple syrup: Remove the rind and core from a ripe pineapple before slicing it into half-inch thick slices. Char the pineapple on a hot grill.  Add pineapple and an equal weight of sugar to a sealable container before allowing it to sit overnight in a refrigerator. Strain solids before transferring to a new container and refrigerating for up to two weeks.

  2. Make the drink: Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice, shake, and strain into a goblet filled with crushed ice. Garnish with Angostura bitters, orange wheel, and cherry.

The Original White Carnation

The official drink of the Triple Crown’s final stretch has changed a few times. The white carnation was replaced by the Belmont Breeze and, for the last ten years, the Belmont Jewel, an agreeable combination of bourbon, lemonade, and pomegranate juice. However, we think the creamsicle-like original takes the cake.


    • 2 oz. vodka

    • ¾ oz. peach liqueur (Mathilde Peche preferred)

    • 1 oz. lemon juice

    • 1 oz. freshly squeezed orange juice

    • 1 oz. heavy whipping cream

    • 1 egg white

    • 1 oz. soda water

    • Garnish: Mint sprig and orange twist


  1. Combine all ingredients except soda water in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake for 10 seconds. Strain the remaining ingredients back into a shaker and vigorously “dry-shake” (without ice) for 10 more seconds. Pour the contents through a tea strainer into a chilled collins glass with soda water, and garnish.