Making the proper mint julep may be time-consuming.

There they rinse and dry the mint leaves, stir and warmth the easy syrup, cool the silver julep cup; limitless duties that can make anybody scream “Give me my drink already!”

However there’s a neater means, mentioned Peggy Noe Stevens, leisure and etiquette professional and co-author of Which Fork Do I Use With My Bourbon?

“Kentucky Derby Week leisure is all about Southern hospitality, mates, household, horse racing and, after all, mints,” Stevens mentioned. “With some advance planning and creativity, it is easy to throw a Derby-style social gathering and nonetheless get pleasure from your individual social gathering.”

Louisville’s Tim Laird is one other native leisure professional who has a lot to say about residence run derby spectaculars. He wrote the guide, or reasonably three books, on the topic. Her newest, The Bourbon Nation Cookbook, New Southern Entertaining, is stuffed with Southern-inspired recipes for meals and cocktails, tales from the area, and her favourite entertaining ideas.

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“My No. 1 tip is to make your social gathering enjoyable in your visitors and for you,” Laird mentioned. “We have all been to events the place the host is careworn, and it additionally makes you anxious and careworn. It isn’t enjoyable.”

Listed below are ideas from these two social gathering specialists for a Kentucky Derby social gathering at residence.

The place can I discover Kentucky Derby jewellery?

Should you’re based mostly in Louisville, there are tons of outlets within the metropolis that can have Derby-themed gadgets to brighten your house, however these three gadgets high our record at The Courier Journal:

  • Dee’s Crafts. Positioned at 5045 Shelbyville Highway, this St. Matthew’s staple is your one-stop store for Derby. As an added bonus, it is also the perfect store to make your individual Derby hat for those who handle to snag a ticket to the festivities this 12 months (or simply need to make one for enjoyable).
  • Coffield’s noveltyServing Derby Metropolis for greater than 100 years, Caufield’s, 1006 W. Foremost St., has one thing for nearly each event, and Derby is not any exception. You will discover a lot of enjoyable issues to brighten your house with, together with an inflatable horse (sure, actually).
  • A style of KentuckyThis Middletown present store, positioned at 11800 Shelbyville Highway, has tons of choices to rejoice the 2023 Kentucky Derby, together with customized mugs, balloons and extra. Even higher, the shop has pre-orders accessible particularly for this 12 months’s race, so you will get all of your social gathering procuring achieved forward of time.

Methods to enhance your desk for a Kentucky Derby social gathering at residence

Empty bourbon bottles may be embellished to make good centerpieces by including a bow tie to the neck of the bottle and a conventional pink rose.

Search your companion’s closet for a bow tie or choose up a paper decoration at an area craft retailer. Even simpler, tie a bow across the bottle with a pink ribbon.

The winner of the Kentucky Derby is roofed in a blanket made from 400 roses, and the occasion is nicknamed the “Run for the Roses,” so let that be your information. Contemporary or silk roses are a should when adorning for a Derby social gathering.

Stevens additionally provides seasonal blooms which may be accessible in your individual backyard. Mason jars or vases stuffed with daffodils or poppies are a straightforward accent to brighten up your desk or bar.

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Methods to Create a Mint Bar for Your Kentucky Derby Occasion

As an alternative of a daily bar, create a mint julep bar that enables the host to get pleasure from their social gathering as a lot because the visitors who act as their very own mixologists.

“If we’re having breakfast at residence, I am going to arrange a mimosa with champagne and a wide range of fruit juices, in addition to a Bloody Mary station with all of the elements, and that enables our visitors to make the drinks precisely how they like them. mentioned Laird.

For the Kentucky Derby, you will need to embody a mint julep bar, and remember to incorporate loads of alcohol-free alternate options. Trace. put iced tea in your julep bar and glowing water for mimosas.

A couple of easy, native elements can flip a heavy mint julep into a lightweight summer time cocktail. All you want in your julep bar is a number of contemporary fruit and herb choices, a wide range of fruit juices, and somewhat creativity. Make sure to embody some easy recipe options written and posted on the bar to offer your visitors somewhat steering.

Should you actually need to go for the “win,” Stevens says to incorporate a wide range of pre-made flavored juleps made with elements like strawberries, orange marmalade, or peaches. He likes to combine up batches of his favourite cocktails and serve them in massive self-serve vessels.

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Festive paper straws and mason jars (with lids to shake the drink) can add a brand new twist to the standard mint julep. Fruit, herbs and juice make for a lighter drink that will also be combined with out alcohol for a enjoyable mocktail model.

What Meals Ought to I Serve at My Kentucky Derby Occasion?

That is the week to rejoice Kentucky meals like nation ham, contemporary native vegatables and fruits, and unfold benedict (made with cucumbers and cream cheese) that may be served as a dip or on cucumber sandwiches.

Cheese grits, nation ham sandwiches, beef tenderloin and corn pudding are Kentucky Derby Day staples present in Stevens’ cookbook.

“On Derby day, we graze like horses on the subject of meals,” mentioned the creator.

For straightforward-to-make hams, you can also make forward, place slices of ham on toast and high every with a tablespoon of fig paste or jam.

Bacon and Pecan Pimento Cheese Dip and Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie are just some of the Southern-inspired recipes Laird recommends for a Kentucky Derby-themed social gathering. Each are so scrumptious that you would be able to make appetizers and desserts for vacation events all year long.

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Prepping a few of your meals choices, like nation ham sandwiches and desserts, forward of time is an thought really helpful by specialists on either side. At first of the pandemic, the follow was a well being necessity to take care of social distancing and stays widespread in the present day. Not solely is the background hygienic, however it might additionally scale back the quantity of dishes you will use on the social gathering.

“I prefer to make appetizers and put somewhat bourbon on the plate for every of my visitors,” Stevens mentioned. “This fashion they take their cup and their meals on the similar time.”

Derby day meals would not must be elaborate or sophisticated. Simply simplify the method and luxuriate in your social gathering!

Betting on the winner of the Kentucky Derby can add a component of pleasure to your Derby social gathering. You should purchase pre-made bets on-line or create your individual. We prefer to progress with a recreation that doesn’t require data of horse racing. every part is random.

Write the identify of each horse that ran within the Kentucky Derby on a bit of paper, fold it in half, and put it in a hat (a Kentucky Derby hat, after all). Permit your visitors to buy horses in sure portions. cash — one thing like $5 is nice cash. Every visitor can randomly choose a slip from the Derby hat. After the 149th Kentucky Derby on Might 6, the visitor with the profitable horse wins all the cash.

Should you’re on the lookout for one other simple and trendy factor to do, maintain a hat contest. encourage your visitors to put on their Kentucky Derby greatest and provide a “greatest dressed” prize. A field of Kentucky Chocolate Bourbon Balls or a bottle of Kentucky Bourbon retains with the theme.

Horseshoe and stick races may be enjoyable in case your social gathering is family-friendly and held outside.

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Methods to create a enjoyable and interactive tasting wheel with the official bourbon of the Kentucky Derby

Woodford Reserve craft bourbon, the official of the Kentucky Derby, has greater than 200 discoverable flavors. For a enjoyable twist, put together a small plate with 5 particular meals pairings that spotlight among the traits of Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Choose bourbon.

Occasion visitors are sometimes stunned at how nicely they will establish these flavors after they sip their bourbon.

There are 5 sources of taste in Woodford Reserve: grain, wooden, spice, candy aromas and fruit and flowers. This is the best way to create your individual bourbon tasting wheel.

Methods to Create a Bourbon Tasting Recreation for Your Kentucky Derby Occasion


  • Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Choose Bourbon
  • Outdated parmesan
  • Roasted hazelnut
  • Dried cranberries
  • Orange slice
  • Darkish chocolate
  • Sorghum

Prepare the samples clockwise on a small plate. Pattern every within the order under, every adopted by a sip of Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Choose Bourbon.

Chew a meals pattern and inhale by means of your nostril to get the total breadth of taste, then take a sip of Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Choose Bourbon.

Right here is the tasting process.

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A dollop of aged Parmesan cheese imparts pecan and different nutty flavors.

The excessive fats content material of the cheese coats the mouth and accentuates the woody and nutty traits introduced forth by the distinctive maturation technique of Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Choose Bourbon. You’ll be able to style pecans, almonds or a touch of oak.


Toasted pecans, cashews, or Brazil nuts may be substituted.

The tannic acid within the walnut highlights the contribution of toasted oak, which is rigorously chosen when producing Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Choose Bourbon barrels. This may occasionally recall to mind the wooden, walnut and pecan flavors of Woodford Reserve.


This brings out flavors of cherry, blackberry and cooked peach.

Tart cranberry ignites fruity and floral aromas within the olfactory system. These notes come from the Woodford Reserve yeast pressure and a six-day fermentation course of. After this pairing, you’ll be able to really feel a touch of cherry, blackberry and cooked peach.


This brings out the flavors of orange, lemon and peach.

Orange important oils specific the citrus traits that may be present in Woodford Reserve. Triple-distilled in copper pot stills and fermented in a prolonged six-day course of, the bourbon contributes fragrant notes of orange, lemon or peach.

STEP 5: Darkish chocolate

This brings out flavors of chocolate, espresso, cloves and tobacco leaves.

The darkish chocolate highlights the spice taste of Woodford Reserve, which comes from the mash, the lengthy fermentation course of and the hand-crafted casks used to mature the whisky. Wealthy darkish chocolate can specific notes of chocolate, espresso, cloves and tobacco leaf.


This brings caramel and honey with notes of grass.

Sorghum syrup expresses the candy aroma traits present in Woodford Reserve. The grassy notes within the end come from a grain recipe of corn, rye and malted barley. It’s also possible to style caramel and honey. That is the one pattern that brings out the grain half.

Attain Kirby Adams at Twitter @kirbylouisville.

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