Special Touches for Hosting a Kentucky Derby Party

| April 23, 2015

On Saturday, May 2, 2015, fans will gather all over the world for the most exciting two minutes in sports; also known as the Run for the Roses, due to the blanket of roses draped over the winner. This famous horse race is the first leg of the American Triple Crown, a thrill to watch since the inception in 1875 in Louisville, Kentucky. This annual event takes place at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. The Kentucky Derby is the most highly attended horse race in the northern hemisphere.

Like other annual sports events, The Kentucky Derby has its traditions in dress, food, and drink.  It is a perfect event to host a fun party, since one of the most loved traditions is to don a hat for the race. Most of the women attending Churchill Downs wear wide-brimmed, “Southern Belle” inspired Kentucky Derby hats. The hats are usually decorated with flowers, feathers, bows, and ribbons. Men's Derby hats are generally solid in color and inspired by the style of the 1920s. For added fun, invite party guests to share in this tradition.

No Kentucky Derby Party would be complete without serving the The Mint Julep. It has been the signature drink of the Kentucky Derby for over a century.  More than 100,000 mint juleps are served at Churchill Downs over the Derby weekend.  Over 1000 pounds of mint are used to make the drinks. Here is a classic the recipe for an authentic Mint Julep:


  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 2 cups boiled water
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • Cracked ice
  • Good quality Kentucky bourbon

Boil water. Remove from the heat. Stir in the sugar and return to medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat. Add the washed and stemmed mint and let the mixture steep for 20 to 30 minutes.

Add crushed ice to a silver Julep tumbler or tall glass. Add 1 1/2 ounces of Kentucky Bourbon. Add 2 1/2 to 3 teaspoons syrup. Stir and garnish with fresh mint.

Yields about three dozen drinks.

The bluegrass state is known for its delicious southern cooking and dishes like fried chicken and corn pudding are great menu ideas for a Derby party.  We all have our southern favorites and one can’t go wrong serving any of them. However, when it comes to dessert there is a must; and the following recipe is a mouthwatering version:


Preheat Oven to 325 degrees

Use your favorite pie crust recipe or a frozen pre-made crust.


  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/2 cup dark corn syrup
  • 1/4 cup Kentucky bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • ¾ cup well chopped pecans
  • 3/4 cup dark or semisweet chocolate baking chips

Prepare the pie crust:

In a large bowl, beat the eggs, brown sugar, corn syrups, bourbon, butter, and salt until blended. Stir in the chopped pecans and 1/2 the chocolate chips. Pour filling into crust; sprinkle with the remaining chocolate chips and ¼ cup of additional pecans, halved. Bake for 50-60 minutes or until the crust is golden brown and filling is puffed. Cool completely on a wire rack. Yield: 8 servings.

Enjoy the festivities and we hope your horse wins!

Charlotte Goldblatt



Filed in: Daily Dish