The black-eyed Susan cocktail gets no respect at the Preakness


(Jonathan Newton/The Washington Post)

The Kentucky Derby has the mint julep, which has been made for years and years, ever since someone discovered that bourbon and mint are pretty tasty when mixed together.

The Preakness Stakes has the black-eyed Susan, which has only been around since 1973, when someone decided that the Preakness also needed an official drink that didn’t involve a case of Natty Boh. Since then, it hasn’t exactly been a hit.

From the Baltimore Sun:

Take vodka, rum, whiskey, bourbon, peach schnapps, orange juice, pineapple juice, sour mix, orange-flavored liqueur, elderflower-flavored liqueur, shake, pour into a souvenir glass and garnish with an orange slice, cherry and mint sprig.

Then dump it on the infield grass and get a real drink.

It’s the poor old black-eyed Susan, the official cocktail of the Preakness.

It has been mocked, derided and dismissed as a publicity stunt. Campaigns have been waged to replace it. Its history has been mangled and misunderstood. It’s been yellow, it’s been orange, and it’s been red.

“It’s a drink that has no roots in classical mixololgy,” said Tim Riley, the beverage director for the Bagby Restaurant Group. “For better or for worse.”

When the drink was introduced at the 1973 Preakness, the Sun called it “a mixture concocted more by Madison Avenue than a bartender.” The recipe for the drink served at Pimlico has changed numerous times over the years as tastes in alcohol have changed, at times including or leaving out bourbon and/or rum. The only constant ingredients, the Sun reports, have been vodka and pineapple juice.

According to the Sun, a number of restaurants in Baltimore have ginned up their own version, but here’s the official current recipe, per the Preakness Web site. Quick, before they decide to change it again.

1 1/2 oz. vodka

1/2 oz St. Germain

2 oz pineapple juice

1/4 oz lime juice

3/4 oz orange juice

Mix them all together and garnish with an orange slice.

After spending the first 17 years of his Post career writing and editing, Matt and the printed paper had an amicable divorce in 2014. He's now blogging and editing for the Early Lead and the Post's other Web-based products.

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