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Drink.Well celebrating Derby Day with multiple juleps

Arianna Auber
aauber@statesman.com

There’s one aspect of the Kentucky Derby that Austin bars want to bring to town, at least for one day out of the year. It’s not the horses, or the gambling, or even the big festive hats and other finery that have traditionally clothed the crowds at Churchill Downs every Derby day (although those hats are always part of the fun).

Instead, Drink.Well and other local watering holes like to highlight the mint julep, the Kentucky Derby’s cocktail of choice: bourbon, sugar and mint topped high with ice in silver cups. Drink.Well’s third annual Derby Day Julep Jubilee running all day Saturday will feature not just the mint julep, but juleps showcasing other spirits as well. Oh Ma’Lort Julep is made with overproof rye whiskey and Baska Snaps Malort, the Windfall Julep has Pussers Rum, and the Dutch Tulips Julep contains aquavit and peach brandy. Rounding out the pack is Bartram’s Julep with Death’s Door White Whiskey.

Accompanying the juleps is — what else — Kentucky Hot Browns: an open-faced turkey, ham and bacon sandwich with broil-melted cheeses and tomatoes.

Plus, even though the five julep drinks might be the centerpiece of Drink.Well’s Derby Day party, the pub staff will all be wearing “their finest headwear and Churchill Downs-inspired attire, and encourage others to do the same,” according to a press release. So come dressed like you’re out at the track. With the race playing on TVs at the bar — and a $50 Drink.Well gift certificate going to the person who can correctly guess the first, second and third place winners — it might feel like you’re actually there.

Other Derby Day celebrations going on in Austin Saturday:

J. Black’s Hats and Horses will serve up Woodford Reserve mint juleps and Kentucky Hot Brown sliders all afternoon, as well as host a hat contest. Rule of thumb with this sort of competition: the more extravagant the hat, the better your chances at taking home the prize.

The Bonneville’s Derby-themed party from 3 to 7 p.m. will feature drink specials, including the West Cesar Chavez’ restaurant’s own Maple Derby and Ketel One Peach Tea Collins. Two contests this time — Best Dressed and Best Hat.

Gibson Bar, besides broadcasting the race, will have mint juleps made with mint simple syrup and Makers Mark for $6.

Searsucker is also getting creative with julep cocktails. On race day, look out for Sir Searsucker, a boozy mixture of blackberry-infused bourbon, mint and pomegranate.