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Day 73: Victor's Grand Slam

Working as a bartender, there are certain days you know you'll be making certain drinks. Cinco de Mayo is going to be all about margaritas, and there's the pint of Guinness, and if you're in a less than desirable establishment, the bright green pitchers of dyed beer on St. Patrick's day. These don't exactly evoke images of a well-curated, classy night out. The saving grace for this, is usually the first weekend in May, which welcomes the Kentucky Derby, along with those frosty juleps.

Welcome back, thirst readers, and thanks for joining me yet again! I was talking to my mother the other day, and we were reminiscing about the times, long before I was shaking drinks, let alone writing about them. She likes to tell people I was riding horses before I could walk, and I always think it sounds a bit silly. The funny part though, is she's right.


My mother's biggest joy in life has always come from caring for animals. We weren't wealthy, by any means, when I was a kid, but she always worked hard to make sure she could take care of her horses. She would work for the stables in her spare time, cleaning stalls, and sometimes she even roped me into working, though I mostly just played around in the pastures. These were some of my earliest memories, and I never understood, back when I was just a kid, why she worked so hard, just to have something many people take for granted. As a child, I didn't understand how money worked.

When I watch the horse races now, it brings back memories of those summer afternoons, riding horses and just being outside in the fresh air. It doesn't hurt that the Kentucky Derby tends to fall on my birthday every couple years either. It's an exciting time, where all types of people suddenly feel comfortable in seersucker, and I dig that.

A few years back, I was doing a consulting project for a bourbon brand, so they could launch some cocktails for the upcoming race season. Mint juleps always being the big focus during the derby, a julep styled drink seemed like a no-brainer, but I wanted it to be lighter, and to mean something. If you're familiar with the traditional mint julep, you know it's essentially an old fashioned style cocktail with mint, served on crushed ice, but something big happened in racing the year before, and it needed a different drink.

During the 2015 racing season, a horse and rider achieved the unthinkable goal for the first and only time in history. American Pharoah, jockeyed by Victor Espinoza, won all three Triple Crown races, as well as the Breeder's Cup Classic. In horse racing, this is known as the Grand Slam. Espinoza also became the first Hispanic jockey in history to win a Triple Crown. I think that's plenty of reason to celebrate.


Victor's Grand Slam

.75oz Bourbon

.75oz Anjeo Tequila

.75oz Aperol

.5oz Cherry Heering

3 dashes Lemon Bitters

2 dashes Mole Bitters

Julep Cup

In cup, lightly muddle 5-8 mint leaves with Cherry Heering and lemon bitters.

Add one cup of crushed ice, and pour over remaining ingredients.

Lightly swizzle.

Top with crushed ice.

Garnish with mint sprigs, cherries, and freshly grated nutmeg.

*Pack your cup with crushed ice. The colder the better.*


It's always fun to take a walk down memory lane. My head has been in a weird place lately, with what's been going on in the world. I'm not trying to ignore it, by any means, but I don't really feel like I have the right words for yet. I would hate to cause more harm than good. I don't think people really want to hear from some boy who grew up riding horses right now, but I hear your pain, all of you. I can see you. I love you all, so please stay safe and keep shaking.


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