Triple Crown Mixology: The Belmont Jewel

Belmont Jewel 1

For those who don’t follow horse racing as closely as I do, the Belmont Stakes is this weekend! Continuing my series on drinks specific to the three Triple Crown races, today I’m sharing with you the “Belmont Jewel” –  the official drink of the Belmont Stakes (recipe below). The name is a reference to Belmont being the 3rd jewel in the Triple crown.

The Belmont Jewel is made with Woodford Reserve, the official bourbon of Belmont Park. Belmont has changed their drink over the years. In 1975 it was “The Big Apple” which was made with rum, apple liquor, and some sort of fruit juice. It only lasted a year or two then it was changed to “The White Carnation” which was a combination of vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice, soda water, and cream. It was created with the thought of the blanket of white carnations put on the winner. It was not well received by the patrons. How long it lasted seems to be lost in history. In 1997, then head bartender of the Rainbow Room, Dale DeGroff invented the “Belmont Breeze.” Believing that a track drink should be whiskey-based, he made what he called “an old-fashioned whiskey punch, which has mint as a garnish.” It was made from Bourbon or Rye, sherry, orange juice, pimento bitters, fresh mint, and orange zest.

That brings us to 2015 and the Belmont Jewel. As part of a modernizing effort they wanted to have a drink that was bourbon based, easy to make at home, and in large quantity at the track. They needed a drink that was more “fan friendly” and this was it.

Having been to the Belmont to see American Pharoah win the Triple Crown, I can attest to the fact the crowd was lined up to buy the Belmont Jewel and everyone seemed to be enjoying it. I will only admit to having more than one.

Here’s the recipe:

1.4 oz. Woodford Reserve Bourbon
2 oz. Lemonade
1 oz. Pomegranate Juice
Orange zest

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously with ice. Serve in a rocks glass over ice. Garnish with an lemon twist.

Let’s all toast the last Jewel in the Triple Crown and the start of summer with a Belmont Jewel!

A Bourbon Adventure for Maker’s Mark

We are in final preparation mode for our Derby party tomorrow. I had to share a little story about efforts to track down a bottle of Maker’s Mark’s limited edition American Pharaoh bottle that I wrote about a couple weeks ago. I had visited both Hi-Time Wine Cellars and BevMo here in Orange County searching for a bottle. Having seen American Pharaoh win the triple crown last year and being a big horse racing fan, I really wanted a bottle – and I really wanted one to display on the bar at tomorrow’s party. Unfortunately both Hi-Time and BevMo hadn’t received any and it sounded like they didn’t think they would be.

In my search I learned that stores in California might not even be receiving any, but that they were on shelves in the East. So, naturally, I called my daughter, who lives in Richmond, Virginia. I asked her if she could check out her local ABC store (state controlled liquor stores in Virginia… boo) and see if they had any or thought they would be getting any. Taylor called two stores and both said they hadn’t received any. She then swung by the store at the ABC warehouse in Richmond. While they hadn’t received any, they offered to do an inventory search for her. The closest store that had any was in Hopewell, Virginia, about 35 minutes away. For some reason, they had received 12! And every other store in Richmond, zero. So, Taylor took off for Hopewell and snagged a bottle just in time to bring it out to California for me for the Derby party.

Below is the photo and text message I received from Taylor when she got home:

IMG_3216
“Who’s your favorite child now? Drove all the way to Hopewell to get you that bad boy”

Last night we checked out what these bottles are going for on eBay. Most it looks like are selling for about twice the shelf price. Taylor now wishes she bought all 12 bottles!

If you’re in the hunt for one of these, good luck! I struck out in Orange County. Curious if anywhere in Southern California has received some? Happy early-Derby Day!