And it’s also been well-documented that last time I wrote about horse racing it didn’t go so well. So let’s keep talking about something I do know a thing or two about: drinking. Come warm weather, it can be a little hard to drink what has been called “sunshine in a bottle,” straight, especially when the real summer sunshine is beating down on you. Indeed, I see the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, the Mint Julep, as a concession to that fact, loaded down as it is with sugar or simple syrup, crushed ice, and its tasty weed namesake. Unlike some, I’m not a bourbon purist. I will drink a well made bourbon cocktail. I will drink a bourbon on the rocks. I will drink a widely-available rail bourbon. I will drink a cheap bourbon. I will drink a sourced bourbon. Hell, you’re probably starting to figure out that I will have a glass of bourbon pretty much anywhere, anytime.
Pimlico, the racetrack home of the Preakness Stakes, however, does not have a cocktail made with bourbon, or any whiskey. No, their house drink is the Black-Eyed Susan, named after the state flower. A website that discusses the origins of the cocktail notes:
The Preakness winner is draped with a blanket of black-eyed Susans…or would be, if black-eyed Susans actually bloomed in May, which they don’t. Instead, they make a blanket of Viking daisies, and paint their centers with black lacquer to mimic the appearance of a black-eyed Susan. Sigh.
So, leaving aside the inauspicious name of the drink, and the fact that it does not contain the best drink ingredient, bourbon, is it any good? Well, recipes abound, mostly because Heublein, the spirits company that created the premixed Black-Eyed Susan back in 1973, refused to divulge the ingredients to make one from scratch. Then they went out of business.