The 142nd Kentucky Derby is on May 7 (post time is 6:34 p.m. EST, to be exact)—but before you whip out your annual batch of mint julep recipes, we’ve got another idea.
Charles Joly, the celebrity mixologist for the big race at Churchill Downs, shares his twist on the classic cocktail exclusively in this week’s issue of PEOPLE. Joly’s Big River Smash is a “close relative” of the Derby julep in that they both share a base spirit: bourbon. But that’s about where the similarities end.
“We keep it light and approachable with a touch of fruit, refreshing herbs and the right amount of booze,” Joly says of his drink, which calls for muddle strawberries and fresh tarragon leaves.
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And while you’re passing out the cool concoctions at your watch party on May 7, you can offer them up with a dose of history.
“The name pays homage to the Mississippi,” says Joly, “where bourbon would begin its journey headed south to New Orleans where the French had set up shop during the Revolutionary era.”
The Big River Smash
Muddle 1 large strawberry (stem removed), ¾ oz. lemon juice, ¾ oz. simple syrup and 3 tarragon leaves in a glass. Add 1 oz. bourbon, 1 oz. cognac and ¼ oz.dry curaçao liqueur; fill with crushed ice and stir. Garnish with tarragon leavesand an orange peel twist.