Joy Perrine was a local legend as the bartender at Jack’s since the early 1980s. She passed away over a year ago now, but is still remembered in Louisville for her excellent cocktails made at Jack’s. Derby was a favorite time of year for Joy as she enjoyed making cocktails for the celebrations. I am going to dip into her Kentucky Bourbon Cocktails, the book she and Susan Reigler wrote, to find some cocktails that Joy might have made for a day of Derby celebrations at home. I am not going to include the Mint Julep, as I have already done a blog on that cocktail and the book includes Joy’s recipe for a very good Mint Julep. Instead, I am going to start with breakfast and go through the day with other Derby cocktails.

Derby Day celebrations often start at about 9:00 in the morning as the party gathers to watch the first races on the television. Breakfast may be a simple buffet of bagels, doughnuts and Danish, but will also include a Bloody Mary cocktail. Joy has a very good recipe for a Bloody Mary made with Bourbon she named “Dark & Bloody Bourbon Mary”.

Dark and Bloody Bourbon Mary

1 teaspoon salt/pepper/paprika mix, 2 ounces Kentucky Bourbon, 2 large lemon wedges, 1 tablespoon Bourbon Barrel Aged Worcestershire Sauce, 1 6 ounce can Campbell’s tomato Juice

To prepare the seasoning mix, combine into a mortar one part each smoked sea salt and smoked pepper and two parts smoked paprika, all from Bourbon Barrel Foods. Finely crush with a pestle and shake together in a jar. 

To a pint glass or large mason jar filled with ice, add the Bourbon, squeeze and drop the lemon wedges, and add the teaspoon of seasoning mix and the Worcestershire sauce. Shake. Add more ice and the can of tomato juice. Shake again. Garnish with a long straw, baby corn, a large pitted black olive, and a cherry pepper, all on a stick.

The now-closed Dish on Market in Louisville made a similar cocktail using Old Grand-Dad Bonded and garnished with bacon. The Bourbon can be of any choosing, but I would recommend something that is at least 90 proof so as not to be lost in the other flavors.

As the races begin, the host does not want to spend a lot of time mixing individual cocktails for the guests, so a pitcher of Joy’s Derby Punch should be made available.

Derby Punch

1 cup Kentucky Bourbon (80-90 proof), ½ cup brown sugar syrup. ½ cup DeKuyper Wild Strawberry liqueur, 1 cup cooled ice tea, 12 large lemon wedges. 12 fresh strawberries, stemmed and sliced, ½ cup sparkling wine.

In a 1 ½ quart glass pitcher, combine the Bourbon, brown sugar syrup, Wild Strawberry liqueur, and tea. Squeeze and drop in the lemon wedges, and stir well. Add ice cubes and strawberry slices. Top with sparkling wine, stir well again, and serve.

After the races, as dinner is provided, beer or wine can be served as dinner is often something simple such as fried chicken or pizza, but dessert could include a sweet cocktail and Joy has the perfect recipe.

Kentucky Derby Pie

1 ½ ounces Kentucky Bourbon (80-90 proof), ¾ ounce Nocello (walnut liqueur), ½ ounce Tuaca, ¾ ounce Godiva chocolate liqueur, ¾ ounce Baileys Irish Cream.

Combine ingredients, shake over ice, and strain into a chilled glass. Sprinkle cocoa powder on top.

Joy Perrine is gone, but not forgotten. We have her books and many great memories of her serving cocktails at Jack’s. We can use her recipes to create an excellent Derby celebration at home. I am sure she would be pleased with the joy she has helped create on the first Saturday in May.

Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller