Someone should put Thistledown in touch with the people from the Velvet Tango Room.
After struggling for years to create a signature drink for the Ohio Derby, Thistledown has created a new concoction, called the Black Gold, which it hopes will catch on with the horsey and libation lovin' public.
The problem? It includes Sierra Mist. Yes, Sierra Mist still exists, to answer your first question. As for your second question (If this is an improvement, what the hell were they serving before?), here's your answer, courtesy of the PD:
The folks at Thistledown have tried over the years. Most of the attempts at an official race drink have been served, sipped and forgotten, even by veteran bartenders at the track in North Randall. A few years back, a Derby daiquiri debuted — and then disappeared. Then came the Ohio Derby Royale, but that had to be scrapped on race day because a key ingredient, coconut rum, was never delivered.
"Most of them were experiments, and I think they didn't do very well because most people are used to a Kentucky Derby drink," said Doris Organ, Thistledown's food and beverage operations manager. "Even the Black-Eyed Susan doesn't go over well here because people are just indoctrinated with the mint julep."
The new Black Gold cocktail mixes rum, tequila, grenadine and Sierra Mist. A mint julep this is not.
As a general rule, we will drink anything. We've mixed Squirt and vodka, everclear with powdered lemonade, and on occasion we've even thought it prudent and delicious to use blueberry vodka as a mixer for cherry vodka. We might be alcoholics, but that's not the point.
The point is the inclusion of Sierra Mist is befuddling for a track looking to make a lasting impression on race fans. We hate to bash the drink sight unseen, taste untasted, but we highly doubt Thistledown when they say the drink is "an explosion of flavor." It includes Sierra Mist, that has to be a lie.