Keeneland Breeze Cocktail Recipe

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Keeneland Breeze Nutrition Facts






Created by

Nic Polotnianko

I fell in love with the art of mixology 6 years ago. Since then, I've honed my skills, crafting a myriad of cocktail recipes, and sharing my passion with other enthusiasts.

Last Updated: January 16, 2024


The Keeneland Breeze is a refreshing cocktail that captures the spirit of Kentucky. It's often enjoyed during horse races and is named after the Keeneland Race Course in Lexington, Kentucky.

  • Origin
    • The drink is a celebration of the state's rich bourbon culture.
  • Popularity
    • It's favored by those who appreciate a lighter bourbon cocktail with a citrus twist.
  • Occasions
    • Perfect for spring and summer events, especially outdoor gatherings and derby parties.

How Keeneland Breeze Tastes?

The Keeneland Breeze offers a harmonious blend of sweet, citrus, and spicy notes. The bourbon provides a robust foundation, while the orange curaçao and fresh orange add a zesty sweetness. The ginger ale or beer tops it off with a refreshing fizz and a hint of spice.

Interesting facts about Keeneland Breeze

  • The Keeneland Race Course is a National Historic Landmark and has been hosting thoroughbred racing since 1936.
  • Maker's Mark, a staple in this cocktail, is known for its hand-dipped red wax seal.
  • The cocktail's versatility with ginger ale or beer allows for a customizable drinking experience.


  • Bourbon: 1.25 oz(38ml)
  • Orange curaçao: 0.25 oz(8ml)
  • Fresh orange: 1 squeeze
  • Ginger ale: to top
  • Orange wedge: 1 for garnish

A few good options for Keeneland Breeze are:

  • Brockmans
  • Silent Pool Gin
  • Hendrick's Gin

Learn everything on which Gin to choose

Bourbon (1.25oz)

🍸 Maker's Mark: A staple in the cocktail for its smooth, rich flavor with just a hint of sweetness. It's the backbone of our Keeneland Breeze, giving it the kick it deserves. Too little and you miss the point; too much and, well, you might find yourself talking to the horses. If you swap it for another whiskey or even rum, you'll ride a different flavor carousel, ranging from smokier to sweeter.

Mary Mitkina

Orange curaçao (0.25oz)

🍊 DeKuyper: This gives the cocktail a touch of exotic sweetness and a sunny citrus twist. Skimp on it and you might as well call it a lazy breeze. Substitute it with Triple Sec or Cointreau, and you’re tweaking the sunshine in your glass — a little less orange grove, a little more zest.

Emma Rose

Fresh orange (1 squeeze)

🍊 Fresh is best! It brings brightness and acidity, balancing the sweetness with a natural zesty flair. No orange? No panic! Lemon or lime can stand in, but they'll dress your drink in a sharper suit of citrus.

Alex Green

Ginger ale (to top)

🍻 The Effervescence: The fizzy partner that dances with the bourbon. It turns a sip into a celebration, adding a sparkly texture to the mix. An alternative like soda water keeps things light but skips the gingery spice that makes it a breeze to remember.

Mary Mitkina

Orange wedge (1 for garnish)

🍊 The Eyecatcher: It's not just about looks; it's a reminder of the citrus notes inside your glass. Skip it, and nobody calls the fashion police, but you lose that extra sensory tickle when you drink with your eyes first.

Emma Rose

Recipe. How to make Keeneland Breeze Drink

  1. Fill a rocks glass with ice.
  2. Add 1 1/4 ounces of Maker's Mark bourbon.
  3. Pour in 1/4 ounce of DeKuyper orange curaçao.
  4. Squeeze a fresh orange over the glass.
  5. Stir to combine the flavors.
  6. Top with chilled ginger ale or ginger beer.
  7. Garnish with an orange wedge.

Pro Tips

  • For a more pronounced orange flavor, muddle a slice of fresh orange in the glass before adding the other ingredients.
  • Chill the glass beforehand to keep your drink cooler for longer.
  • If you prefer a less sweet cocktail, opt for ginger beer over ginger ale.

Perfect Pairings

Food Pairings

  • Charcuterie Boards: The savory flavors of cured meats complement the spiciness of the bourbon and the sweetness of the orange in the cocktail.
  • Southern BBQ: The bourbon's smoky notes pair wonderfully with smoked meats.
  • Spicy Asian Dishes: The ginger ale's effervescence and the citrus notes cut through the heat nicely.
  • Caramel Desserts: The sweetness of caramel dishes will harmonize with the bourbon's vanilla undertones.

Drink Pairings

  • Iced Tea: Non-alcoholic and refreshing, it can balance the alcohol content when sipped alongside the Keeneland Breeze.
  • Dark Roast Coffee: After dinner, a cup of coffee with this cocktail makes for a satisfying end to a meal.

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What you could change in Keeneland Breeze

  • Bourbon: You can use any high-quality bourbon if Maker's Mark is not available.
  • Orange curaçao: Triple sec or Cointreau can be used as a substitute.
  • Ginger ale/beer: Depending on your preference for sweetness or spiciness, choose ginger ale for a sweeter drink or ginger beer for a spicier kick.

Explore all drinks starting with K here

And of course - twists🍹

Honeyed Breeze

  • Substitute orange curaçao with honey syrup.
  • Follow the original recipe.
  • This version will be sweeter with a floral twist, it's like a hug from nature in a glass!

Spicy Breeze

  • Add a small slice of jalapeño before topping with ginger ale.
  • Follow the original recipe.
  • The jalapeño will add a kick that'll make your taste buds dance a fiery flamenco. Not for the faint of heart!

Kentucky Orchard

  • Use apple bourbon instead of regular bourbon.
  • Add a dash of apple bitters if available.
  • Follow the original recipe.
  • It's as if you're taking a stroll through an apple orchard in the heart of Kentucky. Autumn in a glass!

In case you forgot basics how to make Keeneland Breeze

Insert the spoon into the glass until it touches the bottom. Keep the back of the spoon against the inside wall of the glass, and stir in a smooth, circular motion. The goal is to swirl the ice and ingredients together without churning or splashing.

Learn everything on how to stir

Garnishing a bar drink depends on the type of garnish and the cocktail. Generally, it involves preparing the garnish (like cutting a citrus wheel or picking a sprig of mint), and then adding it to the drink in a visually appealing way (like perching it on the rim or floating it on top).

Learn everything on garnishing

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Frequently Asked Questions on Keeneland Breeze

What type of glass is best suited for a Keeneland Breeze?

A rocks glass is traditionally used when serving a Keeneland Breeze to complement the casual yet sophisticated nature of the drink.

How does one properly muddle fruit in a cocktail?

To muddle fruit, place it at the bottom of the glass and gently press down with a muddler, twisting slightly to release the juices and essential oils without completely pulverizing the fruit.

Can non-alcoholic versions of the Keeneland Breeze be made?

Yes, a mocktail version can be created by omitting the bourbon and curaçao and using a blend of non-alcoholic spirits or flavored syrups.

Why is bourbon a preferred spirit in many classic American cocktails?

Bourbon's popularity in cocktails is due to its rich flavor profile, which ranges from sweet to smoky, providing a versatile base for various mixology creations.

Is there a specific technique for squeezing citrus over a cocktail?

Hold the citrus half cut-side down over the glass and firmly squeeze to allow the juice to run through your fingers, catching any seeds while allowing the juice to incorporate into the drink.

What is the ideal temperature to serve the Keeneland Breeze?

The cocktail is best enjoyed chilled, so make sure to use plenty of ice and consider chilling the glass beforehand to maintain a cool temperature.

What kind of bourbon should I look for if I'm new to bourbon-based cocktails?

For beginners, a smoother, less intense bourbon with a lower proof is ideal. Look for bourbons with notes of vanilla or caramel to complement cocktail mixers.

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