14 Very Charming Reasons To Throw A Kentucky Derby Party

1. Kentucky Hot Browns

J. Kenji Alt-Lopez / seriouseats.com

A hot, cheesy, open-faced turkey and bacon sandwich that sounds normal enough but will blow your mind. Recipe here.

For party-purposes, maybe make them in miniature.

Recipe here, and more super cute Derby party ideas here.

2. Mint Juleps

The quintessential Derby drink is a potent mix of bourbon, sugar, and mint. Recipe here.

(More importantly, pewter julep cups.)

 

Serving mint juleps in highball glasses is fine (heck, even a Solo cup can’t ruin something with so much bourbon), but really you should use your Derby party as an excuse to buy perfect, adorable julep cups (great selections here, but you can find them in any kitchen store).

If a classic mint julep is a little too potent for you, try adding fruit or juice.

Jessica Merchant / howsweeteats.com

This blueberry mint julep is sweeter, brighter, and not quite as strong. Recipe here.

3. Mint Julep-Themed Desserts

These cupcakes look stellar. Check out other minty, bourbon-laced dessert ideas here.

Grilled mint julep peaches with ice cream are just a little bit boozy, in case day drinking isn’t your thing. Recipe here.

4. Roses

Since 1905, roses have been the official flower of the Kentucky Derby, and the event was dubbed the “Run For The Roses” by sports columnist (and later Churchill Downs president) Bill Corum. Whether or not you’re fête-ing Derby Day, a bouquet may be in order.

You can even freeze them into ice cubes!

 

Instructions here.

If want to have your roses and eat cake, too, try your hand at a rose cake.

Naomi Robinson / bakersroyale.com

Instructions here.

Rose cookies are a little bit easier, but equally lovely.

Amanda Rettke / iambaker.net

Instructions here.

5. Bourbon Balls

Oxmoor House / myrecipes.com

Recipe here.

6. Really, bourbon everything.

It’s not every day that you can get away with putting bourbon in Chex mix. Recipe here.

Sarah J. Gim / tastespotting.com

You know what makes buttermilk bundt cake even more amazing? Bourbon. Recipe here.

Bourbon brown sugar ribs are the perfect main event. Recipe here.

7. Benedictine Spread

This cucumber and tabasco-flavored cream cheese dip sometimes contains a few drops of green food coloring. If that seems unnecessary and messy to you, just skip it. Recipe here.

Making benedictine sandwiches is even more adorable.

Recipe here.

8. Equestrian Décor

 

Learn how to DIY gold horses and jockeys here.

Melissa Mortenson / polkadotchair.com

These centerpieces are definitely Best In Show. Instructions here.

Skewer your benedictine sandwiches with horse-topped toothpicks. Available here.

If your food is cute enough, it counts as a decoration.

These “Hold Your Horses” cookies are beyond adorable. Recipe and instructions here.

9. Pimento Cheese

Pro-tip: pimento cheese is a great add-in for next-level deviled eggs.

Recipe here.

It also makes for especially awesome jalapeño poppers.

Karly Campbell / bunsinmyoven.com

And then, go ahead and wrap the already-especially-awesome poppers in BACON. Recipe here.

10. (Unofficial) Derby Pie

Michelle Turner / gourmandistan.com

The original “Derby Pie” recipe is top-secret and fastidiously trademarked, but this recipe is a pretty close approximation of the real-deal, with lots of chocolate and bourbon, and walnuts instead of the traditional pecans. Recipe here.

Jenna Beaugh / eatliverun.com

This chocolate bourbon pecan pie is a pretty close approximation, too. Recipe here.

It’s also cool to opt for these mini chocolate pecan cakes with bourbon smash ice cream. All the essentials deconstructed, then put back together in cute, single serve mason jars. Recipe here.

11. Really Amazing Hats

 

Any brimmed hat can be a Derby-ready one when adorned with some ribbon and a silk flower.

Feel free to sport something really ridiculous.

Jeff Haynes / Reuters

Rules are, there ain’t no rules.

Not a hat person? Sweeten the deal by making sugar cookies, instead.

Because These. Are. Amazing. Instructions here.

12. Bow Ties

Jamey Price / jameypricephoto.com

At Churchill Downs, where the Kentucky Derby is held, bowties are de rigueur. Frankly, not wearing one on Derby Day is a missed opportunity.

You can buy a Derby-themed bow tie online.

 

OMG these are printed with mint juleps and horses. They are both completely perfect, and available here and here.

Or, go for something classic, à la Alton Brown, food-nerd extraordinaire.

Chris La Pointe / buzzfeed.com

Alton’s own line of bow ties is no longer available, but hook+ALBERT, the company that sold it, still has some other great ones for sale.

And of course, you could always just make one yourself.

Full instructions here.

Also, feel free to take things a step further and just put bow ties everywhere.

These bow tie chalk stickers on mason jars are so twee I almost can’t look at them. But, these are things I am willing to overlook in the name of the perfect theme party. Available here.

Shaleah Soliven / thegoldjellybean.com

Yes, that’s garland made out of dried bow tie pasta. Full instructions here.

13. Sweet Tea

Recipe here.

Spiking it is encouraged.

Enhance sweet tea with bourbon, peaches, and ginger. Recipe here.

Here, sweet tea is spiked with rum and garnished with lemon and mint, for something between an Arnold Palmer and a mojito. Recipe here.

14. Mediocre Puns

Available here.

You should probably own this for general happiness purposes. Available here.

You know what makes watching a horse race more fun? Shots. Available here.

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