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The Black-Eyed Susan | The Preakness Stakes Official Sip

Stephen Brown

On May 17, the 139th running of the Preakness Stakes in Baltimore gallops off. Though it may not have the same cachet as the Kentucky Derby, the race at Pimlico Race Course is still part of America’s fabric as the second leg of thoroughbred horse racing’s Triple Crown and carries its own distinct traditions:

Pimlico Race Course - Preakness Stakes - Triple Crown

The winners trophy, the Woodland Vase, a Tiffany & Co. creation circa 1860, is one of the most fantastic in sport, and one of the priciest—a recent appraisal has it topping $4 million. Winners now take home a replica while the original is displayed at the Old Clubhouse on race day and spends the rest of the time at the Baltimore Museum of Art.

At the close of the race, once the winner has been declared official, a painter climbs to the top of the Old Clubhouse cupola to paint the number and colors of the winner’s silk on the horse and jockey weathervane, a tradition that began in 1909.

As in the Kentucky Derby and the Belmont Stakes, the winning horse of the Preakness is draped with a blanket of flowers. Somewhat strangely, this blanket is made with Viking daisies “altered” to resemble black-eyed Susans, the state flower of Maryland. These marauders in women’s clothing pass well enough, despite the lacquered center to make the “black eye.”

   Let's get down to brass tacks. Besides the few who have some scratch in the game, the average American enjoys thoroughbred racing for the infield, the hats and the drinks. The official drink of the Preakness, the Black-Eyed Susan is a nod to the host state, but unlike the Derby stalwart, the mint julep, it is somewhat of a shape-shifter, with changing ingredients depending on the liquor sponsor; there has been a jump between bourbon and vodka for some time. This year, the official cocktail has a duo of liquor sponsors: Finlandia Vodka and St. Germain Liqueur.

Preakness Stakes - Pimlico Race Course - Funny Cide

Funny Cide running in the 2003 Preakness Stakes.

   Last year, the Black-Eyed Susan deviated from the orangey, pineapple version of years past with raspberry juice and lemongrass. This year, the folks at Finlandia and St. Germain return to citrus.

 

Preakness Stakes - Black-Eyed Susan cocktail recipeTip: Seeing as May 18 is National No Dirty Dishes Day, we suggest making these at someone else’s house—let them deal with the mess.

 

Black-Eyed Susan, the 139th Running

  • 1 1/2 oz. Finlandia vodka
  • 1/2 oz. St. Germain liqueur
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1/4 oz. lime juice
  • 3/4 oz. orange juice

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add all ingredients and shake vigorously. Pour into a high ball glass and garnish with an orange slice.


 

Black-Eyed Susan cocktail recipe - Preakness Stakes thoroughbred raceBlack-Eyed Susan, Version 2013

  • 1 1/2 oz. Finlandia vodka
  • 1/2 oz. St. Germain liqueur
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz. raspberry juice
  • 1/2 oz. simple syrup
  • Half stalk of lemongrass
  • Sage leaf

In a cocktail shaker, muddle lemongrass stalk; add vodka, St. Germain, lemon and raspberry juice, simple syrup and fill with ice. Shake until frothy, strain over highball glass fill with ice; garnish with sage leaf.

 

More fun facts about May 18 and Maryland: In addition to being National Pizza and the aforementioned No Dirty Dishes Day, it is also Cheese Soufflé Day and International Virtual Assistants Day (whatever those are).

   Marylnd’s state dinosaur is the Astrodon johnstoni, a brontosaurus-like herbivore with star-shaped teeth, the official state drink is milk, and the state exercise is walking—because, as they say in the Old Line State, slow and steady wins the race (although not the case in the Preakness).

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