How to Host the Perfect Kentucky Derby Party

Kentucky Derby Party essentials featured by top US lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise | Kentucky Derby Party by popular D.C. lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of appetizers and drinks in copper mugs next to horse food labels, a vase of red roses, and a bottle of whiskey.

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

Kentucky Derby Party essentials featured by top US lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise: The Woodford Spire Cocktail |Kentucky Derby Party by popular D.C. lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of two whiskey cocktails in copper mugs next to a bottle of whiskey and a vase of red roses.

Kentucky Derby Party essentials featured by top US lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise: The Woodford Spire |Kentucky Derby Party by popular D.C. lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of two whiskey cocktails in copper mugs.

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
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Woodford Spire


  • Author: The Woodford Reserve Team
  • Yield: 1 1x

Description

Woodford Reserve’s official cocktail for the Kentucky Derby®, or any summertime celebration.


Ingredients

Scale

1.5 oz Woodford Reserve Straight Bourbon Whiskey

2 oz Lemonade

1 oz Cranberry Juice


Instructions

  1. Add ingredients to mixing glass and stir.
  2. Pour over ice.
  3. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Kentucky Derby Party essentials featured by top US lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise - Kentucky Derby Outfit Inspiration |Kentucky Derby Party by popular D.C. lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of Alicia Tenise holding a copper mug and standing outside while wearing a orange and floral print dress with a orange fascinator.

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! 

Kentucky Derby Party essentials featured by top US lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise - Kentucky Derby Roses |Kentucky Derby Party by popular D.C. lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of a vase of red roses.

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!

Kentucky Derby Party essentials featured by top US lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise - Smoked Turkey & Brie with Apple Butter |Kentucky Derby Party by popular D.C. lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of a vase of red roses next to a tray of watermelon appetizers and some small turkey and smoked brie sandwiches.

Kentucky Derby Party essentials featured by top US lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise - Olive Oil and Pepper-Marinated Watermelon Bites with Halloumi |Kentucky Derby Party by popular D.C. lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of some watermelon appetizers.
Kentucky Derby Party essentials featured by top US lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise - Pimento Cheese |Kentucky Derby Party by popular D.C. lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of crackers and pimento cheese.

Kentucky Derby Party essentials featured by top US lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise - Woodford Spire Cocktail, Smoked Turkey & Brie with Apple ButterOlive Oil and Pepper-Marinated Watermelon Bites with Halloumi, Pimento Cheese, |Kentucky Derby Party by popular D.C. lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of a bottle of whiskey, vase of red roses, whiskey cocktail in a copper mug, crackers and pimento cheese, watermelon bites, and sandwiches with turkey and smoked brie.

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. 

Kentucky Derby Party essentials featured by top US lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise |Kentucky Derby Party by popular D.C. lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of a tray of turkey and smoked brie sandwiches next to a place your bets rule sheet on a white clipboard.

Kentucky Derby Party essentials featured by top US lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise |Kentucky Derby Party by popular D.C. lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of Kentucky Derby bet cards.
Kentucky Derby Party essentials featured by top US lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise |Kentucky Derby Party by popular D.C. lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of a mason jar filled with folded pieces of paper next to a Winner's Circle paper on a white clipboard.

Kentucky Derby Party essentials featured by top US lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise |Kentucky Derby Party by popular D.C. lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of pick the favorite voting cards next to a white and gold dot pen.

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.

Kentucky Derby Party essentials featured by top US lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise - Woodford Spire |Kentucky Derby Party by popular D.C. lifestyle blogger, Alicia Tenise: image of a bottle of whiskey, vase of red roses, whiskey cocktail in a copper mug, crackers and pimento cheese, watermelon bites, and sandwiches with turkey and smoked brie.

What about you? Are you hosting a Kentucky Derby party this year? Let me know in the comments below!

Photos by Tom McGovern

Thank you to Woodford Reserve for partnering with me on today’s Kentucky Derby Party post! All thoughts and opinions are my own.

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