Bring on the bourbon! The mint julep—a sweet and deceivingly innocent muddle of mint, simple sugar, bourbon and crushed ice—is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby, but don’t let it limit you. There’s plenty of tradition and inspiration to go ’round. Kentucky’s famous stew, Burgoo, is another Derby Day staple. If it seems too cumbersome, sub in your favorite meat or bean version.
*Consider investing in a Mint Julep Kit – worth-it for the classic silver cups alone!
Appetizers + Mains
While the mom-to-be will likely abstain, she’ll want her guests to crack a cold one on her behalf. Serve a selection of craft beers with a special tie to the new family. For example, will the baby be born in Chicago? Try Chicago brews such as Goose Island’s 312 Urban Wheat Ale or Half-Acre Daisy Cutter Pale Ale.
Stock sparkling water and a few artisanal root beers, such as high-fructose-corn-syrup-free Old Dominion, for mama and other non-drinkers.
Bar-style quiz bowl, of course! Divide guests into teams of two, and create the questions to cover everything from little-known facts about the childhoods of mom and dad to newborn factoids and curiosities. Send the winner home with a beer stein or a set of pilsner glasses. Cheers!
Derby Day is nothing without fashion, from big hats to seersucker suits. Play it to excess, and let your guests know the drill well in advance so they have time to prepare. Hold contests (with colorful silk handkerchiefs as prizes) for:
- The Best Hat. You decide if the winning criteria is high style, or purely outrageous.
- The Most Dapper Gent. Derby Day is a rare opportunity for men to make some sartorial noise. Let ’em go wild.
- The Cleverest Play on a Past Winner’s Name. Is there anything more evocative than the names of the competing colts and fillies? Secretariat, I’ll Have Another, Funny Cide, Go For Gin, the list goes on. Challenge your guests – they’re up to it.
What else? Red roses, of course. This is, after all, the Run for the Roses, the “most exciting two minutes in sports.”
Ideas for Derby Day entertaining are endless. Kentuckyderby.com is a terrific resource.