I’m Nicole and I co-founded Matson & Gilman because I believe everyone should have a seat at the great, long, wonderful table of bourbon. And cocktails are one of my favorite ways to do it! I find that lately bartending can get taken a wee bit too seriously. Here a couple of my favorite Derby season cocktails that are easy to whip up at home while you watch the Derby from your couch, or a fun way to host your own Derby themed bash!

The Oaks Lily

Traditionally served on Oaks Day and made with Vodka and Cranberry, I opted for a different twist on this to create a super refreshing and easy to make drink if you have some folks at your party that you haven’t converted to bourbon cocktails yet.

1.5oz Castle & Key Vodka

1oz Simple Syrup*

.5oz Lemon Juice

.25oz Triple Sec

3oz Hibiscus Tea Concentrate**

Stemless wine glass

Give all these items a vigorous shake with ice, and serve in a stemless wine glass with lots of ice. Garnish with a blackberry & lemon wheel!

*Simple Syrup: Add 2 cups sugar & 2 cups water to a pan, reduce over medium heat until all sugar is dissolved. (enough for ~16 cocktails)

**Hibiscus Tea Concentrate: Use 6 bags of Tazo Passion tea. Steep in 48oz of boiling water for 5 minutes. Pull tea bags out of boiling water, set aside to cool. Refrigerator overnight. (enough for ~16 cocktails)

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The Mint Julep

The Grande Dame of spring cocktails & even though it’s been commercialized into a pre-mixed drink, I still love this delightfully easy to make drink. The best advice for a julep: don’t overthink it & use good bourbon. Pro-tip: You can buy bags of perfectly crushed ice balls from the Sonic drive thru!

3oz Bourbon

1oz Simple Syrup*

3 – 5 Spearmint Leaves

Tall Collins Glass (Refrigerate overnight for a fully frosty glass!)

In the bottom of your glass muddle the spearmint leaves in simple syrup, add the bourbon and stir well. Fill half-way with crushed ice, give a final stir then fill the cup the rest of the way with ice. Use a long straw and garnish with a lovely bunch of mint leaves.

*Simple Syrup: Add 2 cups sugar & 2 cups water to a pan, reduce over medium heat until all sugar is dissolved. (enough for ~16 cocktails)

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The Mint Julep Bar

Mint Juleps are one of our favorite things in the world to make, but the consummate hostess knows that there’s nothing worse than hosting a party where you’re making drinks all night long instead of catching up with loved ones. Enter the DIY Julep Bar! A festive, interactive addition to a party, you can set it and forget it with this; it’s the InstaPot of Derby Party drinking!

Bar Set Up:

  • Put down a tablecloth; it’s bound to get syrups and bourbon spilled on the table!
  • Print out directions & provide some jiggers if you have them.
  • Place chilled highball cups in a cooler, then arrange your table like a julep buffet: glasses, bourbon, syrups, ice, herbs & long straws.
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4 – 5 Bourbons – I like to do some of the classic Kentucky Bourbons that are between 80 – 100 proof: Woodford, Evan Williams, Maker’s Mark, Willett or Heaven Hill Green Label.

Large cooler of Sonic Crushed Ice & A Scoop

4 – 5 Syrups – Boil all of these items together until they reduce down into a syrup. Just pick your favorite spring/summer fruit flavors. Strain out any left over fruit, it tastes delicious on toast for your post-Derby hangover breakfasts!

  • Honey Syrup — (1 Part Honey :: 2 Parts Water)
  • Strawberry Syrup (8oz Strawberries :: 8oz sugar :: 16oz Water)
  • Blackberry Syrup (8oz Blackberries :: 8oz sugar :: 16oz Water)
  • Apricot Syrup (8oz chopped dried apricots :: 8oz sugar :: 16oz Water)
  • Simple Syrup (1 Part Demerara Sugar :: 2 Parts Water)
  • Ginger Syrup (4oz chopped dried apricots :: 8oz sugar :: 16oz Water)
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4 – 5 Fresh Herb Options

  • Spearmint
  • Basil
  • Rosemary
  • Thyme
  • Sage

Check out the awesome happenings of Matson & Gilman and schedule a custom experience with their team! Cheers!



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