Southern Chat: A Divine Spring Menu and Horse-Racing Cocktails at the Washington Duke Inn

Spring Menu at Washington Duke Inn
A sampling of the Washington Duke Inn Spring Menu
I attended a Kentucky Derby inspired media luncheon for the launch of Washington Duke Inn Executive Chef Jason Cunningham's spring menu this week. It wasonly 40 degrees the day the luncheon was held, but we put on our spring hats anyway, and enjoyed the spring blooms around us.

Washington Duke Inn
Washington Duke Inn and Golf Club

The Washington Duke Inn, located in Durham, N.C. on the campus of Duke University, is a gorgeous property. If I lived closer, I think you would find me on this terrace a lot more enjoying lunch or dinner. When I am able to get to the hotel to dine, it is a treat because Jason is a fabulous chef. You already know it is a favorite spot of mine for afternoon tea, and his partnership with Carolina farmers and artisans make dining here special. His Dinner at Dusk menu, served daily from 5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. with a prix-fixe price of $35 per person, is one of the best culinary bargains in the Triangle.

Washington Duke Inn
The Fairview Dining Room Terrace

The 2014 spring menu delights. We were served several lunch-type items as well as seasonal salads. The soup and salads are on the main menu in the Fairview Dining Room for both lunch and dinner, but my favorite entree is available only at lunch in the Fairview Dining Room and at the Bull Durham Bar for all-day dining.  I tip my black hat to the Field Pea Burger. For our sampling, Jason paired it with the Asparagus, Spring Pea and Mint Soup. It was excellent. I highly recommend it.

Field Pea Burger at Washington Duke Inn
Pea Field Burger and Asparagus, Spring Pea, and Mint Soup

The Washington Duke Inn hosts a special Kentucky Derby Day on the day of the Derby each year. It will be serving the same cocktails that are popular at top horse races in the U.S. We sampled Mint Juleps, the signature drink for the Kentucky Derby, the White Carnation, the drink of the Belmont Stakes, and the Black-Eyed Susan, the preferred drink for the Preakness

Recipe for Mint Julep, Black-Eyed Susan, White Carnation
Mint Julep, Black-Eyed Susan, White Carnation
The mint juleps were so good that I couldn't stop raving about it to those seated by me. But, the white carnation came in a close second. It's more like a dessert cocktail. Truthfully, I could have downed the entire thing and had another, but it was a working professional lunch so I just had a very modest taste. I also didn't have my chauffeur with me so I was very cautious. I loved both drinks, and the mint juleps. Well, that may be my new Southern thing. 

The Inn shared the recipes with us so I'm not going to share them with you.  

Mint Julep

1 1/2 ounces Maker's Mark
1 ounce mint simple syrup
1 ounce seltzer

Combine bourbon and syrup in an ice shaker, shake vigorously, pour over ice, top with seltzer, and garnish with sprig of mint. 

Black-Eyed Susan

1 1/2 ounces vodka
1/2 ounces St. Germain elderflowr liqueur
1/2 ounce blackberry brandy
2 lemon wedges

Combine ingredients in an ice shaker, and strain into martini glass, garnish with floating lemon wheel.

White Carnation

1 1/2 ounces vodka
3/4 ounce peach schnapps
1/2 ounce half and half cream
1/2 ounce orange juice

Combine ingredients in ice shaker, shake vigorously, strain into martini glass, garnish with an orange peel. 


Hats off to the Inn for a great time. 

HinesSight Blog
Washington  Duke Inn Spring Menu Luncheon
Kathy with WRAL Out and About, Wendy with Op5 Creative Public Relations, Johanna, Durham Foodie, Hopie Avery, Triangle Scout Guide, and me. 

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