Nobody knows anything.
That quote is attributed to the legendary screenwriter William Goldman. He was referring to the market for Hollywood screenplays but might as well have been talking about a number of topics, including horse racing and even life itself.
At the conclusion of last year’s Ascot meeting, if you’d ask me what the price was that I’d be attending the 2020 version, I would have put that number at 1-20, maybe lower. I’d had a fantastic time attending Royal Ascot for the second time in a row and a third overall. I’d had a successful week both wagering and working for Sky Sports Racing, and I was simply sure I’d be back. So sure in fact that I even bought the darn morning suit – and learned the hard way not to lend pieces of it to random very nice people in Car Park 2. But that’s a story for another time.
When I returned home, I started the process of applying for membership to the Royal Enclosure. I am happy to report that I was successful – in the end I suppose you could say it was a straight Fornatale for Markle swap.
I was a sure thing to make it back, but it didn’t happen, for reasons you all don’t need me to tell you about. Now I, like many people around the world, am faced with a difficult question – how do you celebrate Royal Ascot without actually attending Royal Ascot?
The answer, like so many things during the pandemic, relies on drinking.
Not only will I be posting daily podcasts for the Royal meet (links below), but I will be creating a home version of Ascot’s signature cocktail, the Pimm’s Cup. Sure, you can buy a bottle of Pimm’s and mix it with some combo of lemonade/sparkling lemonade/ginger ale, but I am going to take things a bit further, as you’ll see below.
This is an easy drinking cocktail you can enjoy in the morning – no judgments here. I have fond memories of getting these by the jug (pitcher) and hanging out with friends like Matthew Taylor and Kevin Blake on the lawn at Ascot and talking endlessly about the races to come.
Here is my recipe – from my 2014 publication "Brooklyn Spirits" (holler at me if you’d like a signed copy) – for what I call the Royal Ascot cocktail, a homemade version of Pimm’s. This will make a pitcher’s worth of drinks, 4-6 servings.
5 ounces gin, GG American Dry
5 ounces sweet vermouth
2 1/2 ounces orange liqueur
1 1/4 quarts sparkling lemonade (see editor's note)
1 1/4 quarts ginger ale (see editor's note)
10 mint sprigs
1/2 cucumber, thinly sliced
1/2 orange, thinly sliced
1/2 lemon, thinly sliced
Garnish: mint, cucumber, orange and lemon slices, sliced strawberries optional
Combine all ingredients in a pitcher, and stir to mix.
Serve in individual glasses over ice.
Garnish with additional cucumber, orange and lemon slices.
Editor's Note: To make homemade sparkling lemonade combine 1 cup simple syrup, the juice of 10 lemons and 4 cups chilled, sparkling water. To make homemade ginger ale, combine 1 cup ginger syrup (combine 1/2 cup fresh unpeeled ginger, 1 cup water and 1 cup sugar and strain) with 4 cups chilled, sparking water. Feel free to sub commercial versions.