Posted: April 25, 2018 at 2:02 pm
The Kentucky Derby is a little over a week away, and as always, we’re buzzing with delight. It’s our favorite time of year, and though the mass majority of people don’t consider such, to us, the Derby is a holiday weekend. In Louisville, the festivities begin two weeks prior with a giant fireworks show, and don’t really end until we’re dropping our guests off at the airport the following Monday morning. It’s two solid weeks of hats, bourbon and horses.
From time to time however, we have not been able to celebrate in our hometown. The show must go on though, so though we’d prefer to be at Churchill Downs placing bets and sipping overpriced mint juleps, we also know how to throw a really great Derby Party. Today, we’re sharing our favorite tricks and tips for bringing the excitement of the Run for the Roses into your own home.
As with all proper fetes, this one needs to start with the decor. The Derby is dapper occasion, and thus, so should events celebrating it. Hats should be encouraged for all of the guests. Dresses, suits and ties in all shades of pastels and brights too. But also think outside of the box. Consider affixing adorable bow ties to the cocktail glasses. Fill silver julep cups with red rose buds and place throughout the party space. Add a sparkling garland of horseshoes above the mantel or buffet. DIY instructions here. Consider these amazing Derby hat cocktail stirrers. DIY here. Have fun, add lots of color, and keep with the equine theme for maximum effect.
From there, start thinking about your menu. Derby-goers typically spend the day feasting on burgers, hot dogs and turkey sandwiches they’ve hauled into the track with them, so don’t think you need a super fancy feast for your party guests. Dessert is always a no-brainer. We can’t technically call it by its proper name, but this chocolate and nut pie is a Derby tradition, and Martha Stewart’s got a great recipe. Country ham biscuits are a Southern staple, and a frequently seen Derby bite. We’ll recommend this recipe for biscuits, and tell you to head to your favorite butcher or grocer to pick up some thinly sliced country ham. Corn puddings are also a favorite, and it can be prepped ahead of time. We like this recipe. We also can’t help loving these cute mini chicken & waffle appetizers. Add a stack of seersucker napkins to your buffet table, and you’re all set.
Perhaps most importantly though, a Derby Party is all about the libations, and at Hillsdale, we take the bar cart very seriously. A proper mint julep bar is a must, as juleps are THE key ingredient to a Derby Party. Love ’em or hate ’em, the mint must be muddled, the syrup perfected, and your favorite bourbon fully stocked. For newbies, here’s a great how-to from Esquire on perfecting this important cocktail. The mint julep serving station will also be a key gathering place at your party, so make sure it’s doubling as functional party decor. Hillsdale’s Paddock Kitchen Cart is modernly designed and perfect for the purpose. We also suggest adding some fun, race or equine-inspired artwork around the bar cart, and don’t afraid to get a little Pinteresty with the chalk signs, straws and other bar cart accoutrements. For those who may not be bourbon aficionados, we recommend whipping up some other Southern-inspired drinks, like this Southern Shandy or Moonshine Pomelo. Keep some beer and seltzer around too.
All of your friends at Hillsdale Furniture wish you a safe and happy Derby!