This coming weekend is the Kentucky Derby. While the event is best known for betting on the ponies and big bold hats, this celebration marks that spring is well underway in the South. You don’t have to miss out on the festivities if you live above the Mason-Dixie line. Invite friends and family over to enjoy some bourbon-laced drinks and treats. Looking for ideas on how to pull off this shindig? We’ve got you covered on everything from recipes to fashion.
What to Wear
For this celebration, it’s all about wearing your Sunday best. Don a frock like this Vintage 1960’s Jacquard Cocktail Dress ($195). Accessories are key so complete your outfit with a fancy hat like this Vintage 1960’s Evelyn Varon Exclusive Hat ($35) and a Vintage Genuine Lizard Handbag by Vassar ($150). For men, a suit in a lighter hue like this grey Jos A. Banks one ($25) are ideal for this outdoor event. Polished wingtip shoes ($65), a bowtie and a pocket square really complete the look.
What to Drink
Mint juleps are the signature drink of the Kentucky Derby. Place five to six mint leaves in a cocktail shaker. Pour two tablespoons of mint simple syrup over the herbs and use a wooden spoon to muddle the leaves, releasing the flavors. Then fill the tumbler with crushed ice and four tablespoons of bourbon. Shake and pour evenly into two glasses Top with a sprig of fresh mint and sprinkle a little powdered sugar on top.
Pour the cocktail into these cool Mid-century glasses ($65) that come with stainless steel koozies. Your drinks will stay chilled through the whole race! If you don’t have a cocktail shaker, this larger tumbler one ($40) will make assembling drinks a breeze.
What to Eat
In true Kentucky form, you’ll want to serve bite-size foods to snack on while cheering on the horses. Pimento cheese is it’s own food group down south and therefore deserves a place at your table. This recipe for Hot Pimento Cheese Dip by Add a Pinch will have your guests gathered around the food table. Serve it in a 1970’s Lucite Bowl ($50) designed by William Bounds for Grainware, pair it with a platter of table crackers.
You’ll also want a tray of crowd-favorite deviled eggs and there’s no better option than An Appealing Plan’s recipe for bourbon bacon deviled eggs. Serve these savory treats in a chic Mod acrylic and ceramic dome ($40). The cover will keep the halved eggs fresh while they’re being gobbled up.
This hand painted Vintage China Plate ($18) is perfect for serving something sweet. The classic Derby Pie—a mix of chocolate, walnuts and bourbon—originated in 1950 at the Melrose Inn in Prospect, Kentucky. Make it easy to eat one-handedly by turning the Southern concoction into pie bars. I’ve made the Smitten Kitchen recipe many times over, it’s easy and oh-so-satisfying.
Let me know in the comments what’s your favorite part of the Kentucky Derby; the fashion, the drinks or the deviled eggs.