By Katherine Kims
"Total chaos, no way to see the race, not even the track...nobody
cares. Big lines at the outdoor betting windows, then stand back to
watch winning numbers flash on the big board, like a giant bingo game.
Old blacks arguing about bets; "Hold on there, I'll handle this"
(waving pint of whiskey, fistful of dollar bills); girl riding
piggyback, T-shirt says, "Stolen from Fort Lauderdale Jail." Thousands
of teen-agers, group singing "Let the Sun Shine In," ten soldiers
guarding the American flag and a huge fat drunk wearing a blue
football jersey (No. 80) reeling around with quart of beer in hand."
-Hunter S. Thompson
The above excerpt, from Thompson's 1970 article, "The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved," was considered the first appearance of Gonzo journalism in the author's life, and it is certainly not about a two minute-long horse race. It tells the story of a celebration, or as Thompson puts it, the "vicious, drunken nightmare," of the Kentucky Derby. (Download the full article.)
The event has spawned many traditions: grand hats, Derby Pie, and Burgoo stew. But one thing alone is responsible for the crowd that Thompson witnesses and the lore of the Derby experience: bourbon. Put Kentucky's biggest export on double duty for Derby Day in one of these recipes.
Check out our slideshow above to discover four ways to cook and bake with bourbon for the Kentucky Derby.