In my rush of enthusiasm for all things post-vernal equinox, the Triple Crown is of course on my mind. I have a love/huh? relationship with horse racing which is also not a very deep relationship, but it’s also a fun relationship. What I mean is, I really really don’t understand horse racing, but when I lived in St. Louis I enjoyed playing “horse hooky” on summer afternoons, sneaking off with my friend Mike to the track, and of course there are all the cocktail traditions that go along with the sport.
The Preakness Cocktail actually bears a closer resemblance to a Manhattan than a mint julep, and it’s not even the most “official” cocktail of the Preakness Stakes. That would be the Black-Eyed Susan, so named because the winning horse is ceremonially sheathed in a coverlet of Maryland’s state flower. The Black-Eyed Susan, in turn, is like a first cousin to a Hurricane or some such monstrosity: it’s made of vodka, cheap whiskey, sour mix and orange juice, garnished with an orange slice and a Maraschino cherry (skewered together on a cellophane-frilled toothpick, I’m sure). I believe it’s what they serve to the muddied masses who buy the cheap tickets that allow them standing-room admission to the infield, which this May includes a Maroon 5 concert! Sounds about right.
Blech to all that! The Preakness Cocktail, I feel confident telling you even though I’ve never tasted a Black-Eyed Susan, is much better. It’s a medicinal-tasting Manhattan, thanks to the Benedictine. (Yes, I know I’ve been big on Benedictine this winter. (Although actually not really, according to the archive.) Yay, winter’s over! You probably won’t see Benedictine here for a while.) A good five o’clock cocktail, this one, as it’s all-alcohol, easy to whip up, quaffable but worth your contemplation on the way down.
The Preakness Cocktail
1 1/2 ounces Buffalo Trace bourbon
1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth
1/2 ounces Benedictine
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Lemon twist, to garnish
Combine all ingredients in an ice-filled mixing glass or tin shaker and stir thoroughly. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon twist.
The traditional recipe, as you’ll find it from many sources online, calls for blended whiskey instead of bourbon. But you all know that Rosie don’t play that.