Lexington bartenders in ‘Rose Julep’ competition


LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WTVQ/Press Release) – The Kentucky Derby Festival brings to mind a mint julep – crushed ice, mellow Bourbon, simple syrup and fresh mint, all muddled together in a silver cup.

Over the years, bartenders have continually put unique twists on this classic cocktail, but which julep recipe reigns supreme? Four Roses and the Kentucky Derby Festival have partnered together again this year to find out.

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Though a bit different from year’s past, the tradition will continue on this year as six regional bartenders from Louisville, Lexington and Northern Kentucky compete in the 18th Annual Rose Julep Cocktail Competition.

The creative mixologists have handcrafted julep recipes all their own, using Four Roses Small Batch, along with an array of unique ingredients, including bananas, black tea syrup, lingonberry shrub, roasted pineapple-chipotle syrup and more.

Between Monday, March 22, and Monday, April 5, these select mixologists will compete in this year’s competition: 


  • Colleen McCarthy, Martini Italian Bistro
  • Isaac Fox, La Chasse


  • Mike Abbott, Goodfella’s Wise Guy Lounge
  • Shay Bustle, Thirsty Fox

Northern Kentucky:

  • Bill Whitlow, Rich’s Proper Food & Drink
  • Lauren Pellecchia, O’Neal’s Tavern*

*O’Neals Tavern is currently closed, in order to try Lauren’s cocktail please visit julep.fourrosesbourbon.com to get the recipe and try it at home.

During that time the public is encouraged to try each of the creative julep recipes by either visiting any or all of the bartenders’ locations and ordering their handcrafted cocktails, or by participating online by visiting julep.fourrosesbourbon.com to get the recipes and test them out at home.

Then participants can vote for their favorite handcrafted recipe online by heading to julep.fourrosesbourbon.com.

In addition to the People’s Choice award chosen by the public, a panel of beverage industry experts will taste and score the juleps based on aroma, creativity, taste and presentation to crown the Judges’ Choice winner.

The winning cocktails will be announced on April 8 and those cocktails will be available at the participating locations to enjoy throughout Derby season. 

Established in 1888, Four Roses combines two mashbills with five proprietary yeast strains to distill and age 10 distinct Bourbon recipes, each with its own unique flavor profile.