Did you know that the Kentucky Derby is right around the corner? May 1st will be here before you know it!
Derby season is something I look forward to every spring, and I was a little disappointed that they had to postpone the race last year. However, it was for good reason, and I’m thankful that my loved ones are safe and healthy this year! Since we missed out on the festivities last spring, I definitely plan on hosting a Kentucky Derby party this year and watching the races with a handful of close friends this year.
Thinking of hosting a small Derby-themed party this year? Sharing a few ideas today to take your party to the next level!
How to Host the Perfect Kentucky Derby Party This Year
Pick the Perfect Kentucky Derby Signature Cocktail
Is it really the Kentucky Derby if you don’t celebrate with a Bourbon cocktail? I think not!
If you’ve ever caught a glimpse at our basement, you’ll notice a pretty extensive bourbon collection. One bourbon that Tom and I always have on hand is Woodford Reserve. It’s perfectly balanced, elegant, and tastes incredible neat, on the rocks, or in our favorite cocktails of choice. It’s a solid bet, and it is always a hit when it comes to entertaining!
Woodford Reserve is the presenting sponsor of the Kentucky Derby, so naturally, it makes complete sense to serve it at your next Derby party! While I’m a big fan of a Mint Julep, I also love the newest Derby cocktail classic — the Woodford Spire. It’s refreshing, super easy to make, and will wow any of your guests. Plus you can order a bottle of Woodford Reserve through Drizly and have it delivered to your door for your Derby festivities. Use code WRDERBY to take $5 off your first order.
You can view the recipe for the Woodford Spire below!Print
Woodford Reserve’s official cocktail for the Kentucky Derby®, or any summertime celebration.
1.5 oz Woodford Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey
2 oz Lemonade
1 oz Cranberry Juice
- Add ingredients to mixing glass and stir.
- Pour over ice.
- Garnish with a lemon twist.
Set a Dress Code for your Derby Party
One of my favorite parts about the Kentucky Derby is the fashion. After all, where else is it acceptable to dress up in a huge hat or fascinator!
If you’re hosting a Derby party, definitely encourage your guests to dress to the nines. We’re planning on hosting a “Winners Circle,” where guests can vote for their favorite looks — the best-dressed couple, best hat, best outfit, and the best bow tie. Go all out, have fun, and use the Derby as an excuse to have fun with fashion!
Decorate your Party With Tons of Roses
Did you know that the Kentucky Derby is called the “Run of the Roses?” This is because the winner receives a blanket of 554 red roses after the race.
Roses have become the Kentucky Derby’s trademark flower, and it would be the perfect touch for your Derby tablescape. I added some baby’s breath to our rose bouquet just to make it look a little more spring-appropriate. However, roses are beautiful decor on their own. This is one beloved tradition that dates back over two centuries and one that I love to honor!
Serve the Right Party Snacks
If you’re serving snacks and hors-d’oeuvres during your Kentucky Derby party, I’d recommend serving Southern classics as a nod to Kentucky’s rich history.
I got all of the inspiration for our menu from the official Kentucky Derby Website. For our little get-together, I served the Olive Oil, and Pepper-Marinated Watermelon Bites with Halloumi, Pimento Cheese, and the Smoked Turkey & Brie with Apple Butter. For the turkey sandwiches, I swapped out the Rosemary bread for baguettes and cut them into smaller pieces, so they felt a little more like tea sandwiches.
Make your Kentucky Derby Party a Contest
Now that you’ve got the outfits, the signature cocktail, and the snacks — let’s make your Kentucky Derby party a little more interactive, shall we?
I stumbled upon this incredible signage from Miss Polka Dot on Etsy, which was perfect and very affordable for Derby! I decided to add a little betting station where you can bet on your favorite horse at your party amongst friends. We also added a “Winner’s Circle” station where you could vote for your favorite Derby outfits and accessories. I think it adds the perfect finishing touch to the Derby festivities and is a fun way to interact with your friends and loved ones.
What about you? Are you hosting a Kentucky Derby party this year? Let me know in the comments below!
Photos by Tom McGovern