There is an old saying about the Kentucky Derby's traditional tipple, the Mint Julep: "The first one doesn't taste very good. The second one's not much better. By the third, who cares?" This may explain why vendors at Churchill Downs sold 80,000 of the sticky sweet beverages during the two days of the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby in May. Presumably there was a time when the cocktails served there were worthy of their reputation. But the drink hawked now, a concoction of bourbon, simple syrup and some kind of mint extraction mixed in advance and sold for $7 a pop, comes up lame. You do get to keep the souvenir glass, but before you rush off to sell it on eBay as a collectible, take note: About 750,000 of them are manufactured yearly.
From a spectator's point of view, the Tour de France is even briefer than the Derby, but the roadside picnics that precede and/or follow the whoosh of the peloton typically pack much better punch. Whether you toast the riders with a bubbly in Epernay, a sip of Muscadet near Nantes, or a Bordeaux and a baguette in Bazas, there are good, cheap local libations available in every town along le Tour's course. And any watering down is strictly your choice.