Opening Day at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky and a Bourbon Drop Cocktail

Mr. Bunkycooks lived and worked in Louisville, Kentucky for ten years, so he knows a thing or two about these races.  Keeneland’s Opening Day is very special, especially since this year was the 75th anniversary, so we were excited to be able to attend.

Jockey Kent Desormeaux

Which one of us has had the most bourbon?

Keeneland is often used as a backdrop for horse racing films, most of the racing scenes from Seabiscuit (2003) were filmed at Keeneland.

Bucky Sallee has been the bugler at Keeneland for 49 years

One of the fixtures of Keeneland is Bucky Sallee, the bugler that calls the jockeys and horses to the post.  Bucky has called every race for over 49 years.  He missed only one race during that time. When you listen to the call to the post played by Bucky, he is really playing Boots and Saddles and not the traditional “Call to the Post”.  I guess after 49 years no one is going to try and change him now.

If you have never been to Lexington, this area is just spectacular to see.  There are gorgeous horse farms everywhere you look, beautiful rolling hills, some of the greenest grass I have seen  (so why is it called bluegrass?) and of course, lots of beautiful horses.

The only closer we could get is to go on the track!

Racing to the finish line

Kentucky is not only known for it’s horse racing, it is also known for it’s bourbon, so naturally, there are many bourbon cocktails during the racing season.  We made a Mint Julep at The Brown Hotel several weeks ago, so I thought I would try a variation on that cocktail.

He’s a winner!

The Bourbon Drop is a wonderful blend of excellent bourbon (we prefer Woodford Reserve), a bit of sweet, a hint of lemon and mint.  I changed the recipe ever so slightly.  It is not minty like the Mint Julep but just has a subtle mint flavor from the fresh sprig of mint that you use to decorate your glass.  We really enjoy it.

With just a few days left until the Kentucky Derby, you might want to get yourself a hat (ladies only, I hope), make a Bourbon Drop and a Hot Brown, order a Derby Pie and wait for the race to begin!

Thank you so much to our friend Craig for the invitation to Keeneland and including us in this memorable day.


Bourbon Drop


5 ounces Woodford Reserve bourbon (I used 4 ounces)
3/4 ounce simple syrup
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 candy lemon drop (I omitted this because I don’t care for very sweet cocktails)
1 sprig fresh mint


Combine the bourbon, simple syrup and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Pur into a chilled martini glass and garnish with the lemon drop (if you use it) and sprig of mint.

Chef Rodney Jones
Rossi’s Restaurant
Lexington, Kentucky


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