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‘The Odd Cocktail Out’

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
Henry Lewis, head bartender at the Chesapeake Room, prepares his version of the black-eyed Susan cocktail, which will be offered as a special during Saturday’s Preakness Stakes horse race.

“It isn’t that distinctive,” Kasper said. During his time at the Sun, Kasper encouraged readers to submit recipes for cocktails that could take the place of the Susan. He thought he was on to something in the 1980s after he and a panel of judges sifted through 80 recipes and declared the “Mr. Pim” a winner. It was a combination of Maryland rye whiskey, lemon and simple syrup. 

Kasper and his anti-Susan forces thought the recipe would click with the Preakness organizers. They stuck with the Susan.

Rowdiness in Charm City

The 137th Preakness Stakes is set for this Saturday. It’s long been a rowdy affair, as befitting its hardscrabble Pimlico address in Charm City. 

The grandstand and jockey club, like at Churchill Downs in Kentucky and at New York’s Belmont Stakes, is typically a genteel setting, complete with avant-garde hats and plenty of seersucker. But the infield party, with its tens of thousands of patrons, has resembled spring break, leading to its “Freakness” nickname. 

Beer is a big part of that, even though race organizers in 2009 banned the BYOB policy that was standard operating procedure for years. 

The official “Lord of the Infield” is a creature called Kegasus, a beer-swilling centaur who is available for promotional events with his sidekick UniCarl, whom the Preakness website describes as “part human, part unicorn, part personal assistant and part personal trainer.”

In this beer-centric scene, the black-eyed Susan will also be sold, as it has for decades, in commemorative Preakness glasses.

“The best thing to be said about it was the glass,” Kasper said of the cocktail. 

So, for now, the Susan endures as the drink of the Preakness, if not in the hearts of cocktail lovers. 

“When people ask me what is in a black-eyed Susan, I usually tell them ‘equal parts of rum, vodka, fruit juice and bad judgment,’” Kasper wrote in 1996.

When told of this long-ago passage, the Tune Inn’s Manley said, “That sounds about right for the Preakness.”

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