Three races comprise the Triple Crown of horse racing: the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, followed two weeks later by the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico in Baltimore, and winding up three weeks after that with the Belmont Stakes in Long Island. And, of more interest to this website, each of these races are traditionally associated with a drink for the spectators. What better way to turn the Sport of Kings into Entertainment for Drunks than to test all of them? No thoroughbred has won the Triple Crown since Affirmed in 1978, but hopefully you can pick a winner among these six drinks.
First up: the biggest race of all, the Kentucky Derby, with the venerable mint julep. I've written about mint juleps before here, so I'll spare you the rhapsodizing and reiterate that a proper mint julep is a phenomenal drinking experience. They're some of my very favorite cocktails to make, and they're not too shabby to drink as well. However, I should note that apparently they don't serve a real julep at the Derby itself, but rather a pre-bottled concoction from Early Times. I haven't tried this, but David Wondrich, in an entertaining and learned Esquire Q&A, says that they "are notoriously bad, with that artificial-tasting mint syrup." (I had a similarly syrupy one while touring Oak Alley Plantation outside of New Orleans. They even sell their own branded mint syrup! But: a bad julep is still a mint julep, and touring an antebellum mansion with a cold drink in one's paw is still a nicely civilized experience.)