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Friday, May 18, 2012

Vintage Happy Hour with Jenny Q: I'll Have Another Black-Eyed Susan!

Today we're talking about the official beverage of the Preakness Stakes, the second leg of thoroughbred racing's hallowed Triple Crown. The Preakness was first run in 1873 at Pimlico Downs, and since 1940 Preakness winners have been draped with a blanket made of Maryland's official state flower: The Black-Eyed Susan. And somewhere in the early 1980s, a cocktail of the same name was born.

Traditionally, the Black-Eyed Susan is a southern-style punch, mixed up in a big batch and served in highball glasses over shaved or crushed ice The original version, from the 1985 edition of The Junior League of Baltimore's cookbook Hunt to Harbor, called for vodka, rum, and triple sec, mixed with orange and pineapple juices. Many versions have been created over the years, with popular additions like peach schnapps, grapefruit juice, and sweet and sour mix. Orange juice has always been a staple, but some recipes call for a large dose, and others just a splash.

Don't let the sunny name fool you--with a combination of two liquors, this cocktail packs a powerful punch! And now that Early Times is an official Preakness sponsor, the Black Eyed Susan served at the track calls for a dose of their whisky. Track officials estimate 25,000 will be sold over the course of this two-day race weekend at $8 a pop. 

Here's the official single serving recipe from

3/4 oz. 42 Below vodka
1 1/4 oz. Early Times Kentucky Whisky
3 oz. sweet and sour mix
2 oz. orange juice
Garnish with orange slice, cherry, and stirrer

Personally, I think I'd prefer the original punch version, so I browsed through some recipes and picked a winner. Doesn't this sound good?

Punch recipe from the Washington Post:

1 1/4 cup vodka
1 1/4 cup light rum
3/4 cup triple sec
Juice from one lime
4 cups orange juice
4 cups pineapple juice
Garnish with lime slices or maraschino cherries

A perfect refresher for a day at the races, or if you're thinking like I'm thinking, for a day of watching the races on TV pool-side, and rooting on I'll Have Another while having another! And I'll leave you with a bit of trivia to impress your friends with this weekend. That Black-Eyed Susan blanket the Preakness winners sport? It's not actually made of Black-Eyed Susans! Black-Eyed Susans don't bloom in the mid-Atlantic till late June, but the Preakness runs in May, so Pimlico uses a daisy variety and dyes each flower to mimic the Black-Eyed Susan. Who knew?

Cocktail Image via Southern Living