Black-Eyed Susan: A Quandry

(I’m cross-posting this both as an Article and a Recipe, due to the consternation this drink causes.)

Black_Eyed_SusanThe Black-Eyed Susan is the “official” drink of the Preakness Stakes. And it is a drink that has truly lost its way. When it was first introduced during the 1973 Preakness, the Baltimore Sun called it “a mixture concocted more by Madison Avenue than a bartender” and they’re right. Whoever came up with this drink knew NOTHING about bartending, and even less about drinking.

It’s been classified as both a single drink, and as a punch. The ingredients list changes like a “complex” drink, but is overwhelming at worst, and simply undrinkable at best. The most common version of the recipe has 10 ingredients, and the (current) “official” version has 5 (still too many).

Here’s the (current) “official” version:

  • 1 1/2 oz. vodka
  • 1/2 oz St. Germain
  • 2 oz pineapple juice
  • 1/4 oz lime juice
  • 3/4 oz orange juice
  • Mix them all together and garnish with an orange slice.

    Interestingly enough, two of the largest sponsors of the Preakness are Finlandia Vodka, and St. Germain. Hmm… I wonder if that explains anything.

    So, at the request of a dear friend, I’ve come up with a simpler, and (in my humble opinion) tastier version:

  • 1 1/2 oz Whiskey
  • 1 oz Dark Rum
  • 3 oz Pineapple juice
  • 1/4 oz Lime juice
  • Shake, strain over ice, garnish with a cherry and orange wheel.

    Why change the base spirit from Vodka to Whiskey? For the flavor, of course! That way you still get the high proof as with the Vodka, but without the burn. Remember: when using a plain vodka, there is NO flavor!

    As for the Rum, I suggest a dark rum for an added sweetness that needs to be in there for a “race day” drink, without adding any extra burn.

    Likewise, drop the orange juice in favor of just pineapple juice to cut the acidity. Pineapple juice will give the drink a much brighter clarity, while retaining the signature yellow color.

    The lime juice can stay, as there’s nothing offensive about it at all.

    As for the garnish, well, you know I’m not a big fan of garnish in general, but the orange wheel/cherry combination DOES look nice.

    And while we’re changing things, I’d do away with the “souveneir cup” too. At least the silver mug for a real mint julep has a reason for existing (electrolysis). But that’s one of the rare cases.

    Yukon Jack Jacapple

    Now this was a definite surprise. I enjoy Canadian Whiskey almost as much as real Whisky, but even so, this surpassed my expectations.

    From the time you open the bottle, you get the full aroma of apples. Unlike the aroma from UV Apple (Fuji apples), this is more of a Granny Smith scent. Then you take the first sip. And along with the expected slight alcohol burn, you get a sweet, soft taste of Granny Smith apples, brown sugar, and then a fairly strong cinnamon taste in the finish.

    If you go looking for this one, keep in mind that for some strange reason, your liquor store probably stocks it (IF they carry it at all) in the Liqueurs section instead of in the Whiskies section where it belongs.

    When I first reviewed this on the show, I couldn’t quite place it, but I recognized that flavor from somewhere. Then after a few more sips (yes, it’s THAT good!) it hit me. I knew exactly where I had tasted this before (minus the alcohol, of course)…


    Seriously! It’s the EXACT SAME TASTE! It completely blew my little mind!

    Sadly, aside from varying reviews, I can’t seem to find any official information online for the company that makes this delicious product. So all I can say is whoever you are, “Yukon Jack Trading Company,” you have my very heartfelt thanks for creating such a beautiful product.

    Yes, this review is rather short. But honestly, there’s not much more to say. It’s one of the finest alcohols I’ve had the opportunity to try, and you should start looking for a store that carries it right now. And if your local liquor stores don’t carry it, MOVE!


    (Now I want an apple pie from McDonald’s.)