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Homestead artist moves to Kentucky Derby Winner’s Circle with bottle art |
Food & Drink

Homestead artist moves to Kentucky Derby Winner’s Circle with bottle art

Paul Kogut
| Tuesday, April 29, 2014 9:00 p.m
Ashley Cecil
'Time for the Roses' by Ashley Cecil graces the bottle of the 2014 Early Times Mint Julep, the official drink of the Kentucky Derby

Ashley Cecil’s bucket list featured one activity that’s not likely on many other lists.

Cecil, a Louisville native now living in Pittsburgh, always wanted to paint a bourbon-bottle label.

“It’s like the Heinz family to Pittsburgh,” says Cecil about the importance of bourbon to Kentucky. “The family names are on libraries, schools, cultural institutions. It’s really significant.”

Cecil, who paints in her West Homestead studio and serves as the vice president of Pittsburgh Society of Illustrators, checked that item off her list this year when she created bottle artwork for the 2014 Early Times Mint Julep, the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, coming up this weekend.

“Time for the Roses” celebrates the moment when the traditional garland of more than 400 red roses is presented to the Kentucky Derby winner. The excitement of the Winner’s Circle is captured on the bottle with an image of the winning jockey sitting atop his horse draped in a garland of roses. Beside the horse is a woman presenting a bouquet of roses to the jockey and several other onlookers in the background.

“We are excited to feature a new artist this year and feel that Ashley’s work perfectly captures the most emotional moment for a winning jockey,” says Therese McGuire, brand manager for Early Times Kentucky Whisky.

The Brown-Forman Corp., which produces and markets Early Times Kentucky Whisky, contacted Cecil last year about contending for the commission to create a painting for the label. She started work in September after researching all the former bottle artwork.

“No one had done a shot of the winner’s circle,” she says. “It’s a celebratory moment — the peak of all the hype.”

Early Times Mint Julep will not be sold in Pennsylvania, but anyone who subscribes to Cecil’s website updates before the derby will be entered to win a signed bottle.


Rachel Weaver is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-320-7948 or

Categories: Food Drink
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