Posts Tagged ‘Keeneland’

Bourbon cocktails: mysterious … and easy

Seth Kinder prepares a Blue Heron 46Among the bourbon craft cocktails we tasted in Lexington, one of the most intriguing was the Blue Heron 46, a house specialty at the Blue Heron Steakhouse (185 Jefferson St, Lexington, Kentucky; 859-254-2491; blueheronsteakhouse.com). The menu describes the drink as Maker’s 46 (a smoother, woodier version of Maker’s Mark with more pronounced caramel notes) with handmade apricot ginger syrup served on the rocks. How do you make that syrup? Bartender Seth Kinder—the “Hell on Wheels” character mixing a drink here—was downright coy.

He did suggest that the syrup was made by cooking down a pound of apricots with sugar and water, and an equal amount of fresh ginger also boiled in syrup. We’d make it like this. Combine 1 pound of dried apricots and two cups of coarsely chopped fresh ginger and process in a food processor. In a large saucepan, combine two cups of sugar and one cup of water. Heat and stir until sugar dissolves. Add the apricot-ginger mixture and cook over medium heat until mixture comes to a boil. Simmer for 10 minutes and strain, reserving the liquid.

Here’s the recipe as we observed Kinder making it. Experiment a little. It’s basically an especially sweet apricot whiskey sour.

BLUE HERON 46


Blue Heron 46 1 1/2 oz. Maker’s Mark 46
1 1/2 oz. sour mix (equal parts lemon and lime juice with simple syrup)
juice of a half lemon
1 1/2 oz. apricot ginger syrup
raw ginger
dried apricot

Combine ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker and shake until well blended and chilled. Strain into a rocks glass half filled with ice cubes. Garnish with thin slice of raw ginger and rehydrated dried apricot.

With the Breeder’s Cup coming up at Keeneland (www.keeneland.com) in Lexington, Kentucky, at the end of October, we bet a lot of folks will be drinking the racetrack’s signature bourbon cocktail. The Keeneland Breeze drinks sweet, citrusy, and deceptively light. (A few of these could have you staggering down the back stretch of the evening.) It’s a genuine breeze to make. Since Maker’s Mark is one of the sponsors of Keeneland, that’s the bourbon that track bartenders use. To make it light, prepare in a highball glass. For a stronger breeze, use a rocks glass.

KEENELAND BREEZE


1 1/2 oz. Maker’s Mark
1 oz. Triple Sec
splash orange juice
ginger ale
orange round

Fill glass about two-thirds full with ice and add bourbon and Triple Sec. Pour in a splash of orange juice and fill glass with ginger ale. Attach orange round as a garnish.

15

09 2015

Keeneland Track Kitchen starts the day right

Keeneland Track Kitchen Thoroughbred horses are among the most beautiful creatures to walk the earth, and few places to see them are quite as magical as Keeneland (www.keeneland.com) in Lexington, Kentucky. For us, the defining character of the track is its sheer egalitarianism. Everyone there loves horses, and when you’re in the presence of equine majesty, it really doesn’t matter whether you’re a stable hand, a groom, a jockey, a trainer, an owner, or just an admirer of horses.

Keeneland horse barns That’s part of why we think breakfast at the Keeneland Track Kitchen is a must for every visitor to Lexington. There are two race seasons at the track: April and October. In fact, this fall’s schedule concludes with the 2015 Breeder’s Cup on October 30-31. But Keeneland is also the premier thoroughbred auction house, with big sales in September, November, January, and April.

Admission is charged to the auctions and races, but Keeneland is a major training center and the track is open to the public for free during the training hours of 6-10 a.m. Everyone is also welcome at the Track Kitchen, which opens at 6. We won’t make exaggerated claims for the food—it’s just good Kentucky country breakfast fare. The house special ($5) includes scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, and a choice of two sides: biscuits, grits, skillet potatoes, or spiced apples. Gravy is de rigeur.

Washing down horse after workout at Keeneland You can watch the horses work out on the track (see below) and walk past the barns where they are being curried and groomed or lovingly washed down after a workout. It brings to mind the great American writer Sherwood Anderson’s early short stories, many of which are set at small-town Kentucky tracks. The narrator of “I Want to Know Why” (1918) maybe puts it best:

“If you’ve never been crazy about thoroughbreds it’s because you’ve never been around where they are much and don’t know any better. They’re beautiful. There isn’t anything so lovely and clean and full of spunk and honest and everything as some race horses.”

Go to Keeneland and see for yourself—after breakfast. And see if you don’t agree with that unnamed narrator:

“It brings a lump up into my throat when a horse runs.”

Keeneland workout

03

08 2015

Off to the races at Keeneland


I was a little surprised when my friend Patti told me that I should wear a skirt or dress, or at least a nice pantsuit, when we went to the thoroughbred races at Keeneland (www.keeneland.com). But Patti knows that my travel wardrobe consists mainly of black jeans and white blouses – not a bad look if I do say so myself, but definitely not the right thing for Lexington, Kentucky’s National Historic Landmark track. (Hats, by the way, are optional.) Keeneland, which is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, was founded in 1936 to serve as an elegant showcase for the Bluegrass thoroughbred horse industry. Live races are held only twice a year (this year April 8-29 and October 7-29) and are quite an event. Keeneland is especially stunning in the spring when the dogwood, magnolia and redbud trees are in bloom.

We could have gone more casual if we opted for general admission, but we wanted to make a day of it with a buffet lunch in one of the rooms overlooking the grandstand. Between visits to the buffet line for cheeses and salads, roast beef, roast chicken, and several pasta dishes, we pondered our bets and then rushed out to an open balcony to cheer on our horses as they sped around the 1 1/16-mile oval track. We also wandered out to the paddock area where horses warm up and seasoned handicappers can make a final assessment of horse and jockey before placing their bets. “Bet on the horse that finishes first,” someone told me with a laugh. I didn’t have much luck with my $2 bets, but I did secure the recipe for Keeneland’s signature Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce. And that’s a winner.

KEENELAND BREAD PUDDING WITH MAKER’S MARK BOURBON SAUCE

This recipe is included in Keeneland Entertains: Traditional Bluegrass Hospitality and Favorite Recipes, Fran Taylor’s cookbook tribute to Keeneland’s 75th anniversary. I have kept Fran’s original format and size—big enough to serve a race weekend party.

Serves: 10 to 12

BREAD PUDDING

2 quarts milk
2 cups sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
8 eggs beaten
2-3 quarts cubed white bread (or Sister Schubert rolls)
1 cup golden raisins
1 tablespoon cinnamon

Whisk sugar into milk until dissolved. Add eggs, vanilla and stir. Soak bread in mixture for several hours or overnight. Pour into Pyrex or stainless pan. Sprinkle with raisins and cinnamon and “push” into mix. Bake at 250 degrees for approximately 1 1/2 hours or until firm.

MAKER’S MARK BOURBON SAUCE

1 lb. butter
2 lb. powdered sugar
1 cup Maker’s Mark Bourbon

Let butter become soft at room temperature and add powdered sugar. Whip bourbon into mix until it makes a frosting consistency. Ladle sauce over hot bread pudding and it will melt on its own.

02

04 2011