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Three Southern Barkeeps (Re)Imagine Cocktails fit for a Kentucky Derby Celebration

Three Southern Barkeeps (Re)Imagine Cocktails fit for a Kentucky Derby Celebration

We will call the activity “Drinking the Derby,” and envision ourselves dressed in finery that we would not ordinarily wear in color combinations we closed our eyes to pull together, while drinking delicious cocktails created by the modern-day progeny of bartending legends considered great julep makers of the South: John Dabney and Jim Cook.

For those in the know, the traditional beverage of the Kentucky Derby is the Mint Julep. Over the years past, the Mint Julep has averaged over 120,000 in sales during the two-day event. John Dabney and Jim Cook were two southern, formerly enslaved men who gained substantial reputations for their elevated forms of the mint julep.

Jenique Keyatta Holder-Mincey, Tiffanie Barriere, and the lone gent, Jay Madison are the progeny (more like emerging legends), and Samara Rivers, founder of the Black Bourbon Society (BBS) is the director of this fantasy Kentucky Derby fête.

BBS kindly shared their take on what could become your new traditional beverages.


by Tiffanie Barriere ( IG @thedrinkingcoach | Les Dames d’Escoffier Atlanta, James Beard Beverage Advisory Board)
*an aromatic play on the mint julep

8-12 mint sprigs

1 oz. Sipseed Aromatic Water

¼ oz. Lavender Sea Salt

2 oz. Woodford Reserve

Shake Cold, double strain, Serve over crushed ice


by Jenique Keyatta Holder-Mincey (IG @picturesandcocktails_ | A Thrillist “Must Know” Cocktail Influencer )

1 ½ oz. Four Roses Small Batch

1 oz. Fresh Grapefruit Juice

¼ oz. Lemon Juice

¾ oz. Hibiscus Honey

2 drops 18.21 Hibiscus Bitters

Shake Cold, Strain. Serve in Coup glass.

*Hibiscus Honey:  Steep dried hibiscus flowers for 20 minutes in hot water. Strain and stir with equal parts of honey.


by Jay Madison (IG @jmadontherocks | Morehouse & Kappa Man, Uncle Nearest Brand Ambassador)

1 oz. Uncle Nearest

1 oz. Aperol

1 oz. Sweet Vermouth

3 Dashes of Orange Bitters

1 Splash of Benedictine

Stir and pour over large ice rock.

If you plan on celebrating the Kentucky Derby in your home this weekend, consider these sublime recipes by these incredible tastemakers. Be sure to give them credit for their work.

And if you could take a photo of your interpretation, please tag Black Southern Belle. We would love to see you dressed resplendently holding your cocktail.

Salut to you and lift your glasses to John Dabney and Jim Cook too.




Robin Caldwell

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