Planning the Ideal Kentucky Derby Party

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, May 3, 2018 11:39 AM UTC

Thursday, May. 3, 2018 11:39 AM UTC

Down the stretch we come with great ideas for the perfect Kentucky Derby celebration (it's also Cinco de Mayo!).

Mint Julep, Fascinator and Bourbon Meatball.

Three horses running for the roses on Saturday? In our Triple Crown dreams. These are three things needed for a fabulous Kentucky Derby Party. has Justify (+385), Mendelssohn (+625) and Audible (+745) as the favorites to win during the "most exciting two minutes in sports" at Churchill Downs on Saturday, but there are lots of minutes, even hours, before and after the race that are just as much fun.

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On-trend Fashion for the Kentucky Derby—from bourbon chic to Southern charm:

— Kentucky Derby (@KentuckyDerby) May 3, 2018

Here are a few ideas on how you can turn your backyard into the infield at Churchill Downs:

  • Mint Julep: It won’t be a Derby party without the signature drink. For one cocktail, you’ll need 5 to 10 mint leaves, 1½ teaspoons of fine sugar, crushed ice and 2½ ounces of Kentucky bourbon whiskey. Muddle the mint with sugar at the bottom of a glass. Add bourbon and fill the glass ¾ full with crushed ice. Stir until the sugar melts and the glass is frosty. Garnish with mint.

And since Derby Day is May 5, you can Cinco de Derby the drink by substituting cilantro for mint and tequila for bourbon. Enjoy!

  • Fascinators: For many, the hats are the real contest of the day. You can spend a pretty penny at the nearest haberdashery or you can have your guests go "Craft Corner Deathmatch" and make their own. Paper plates and paper bowls, ribbon, silk flowers, doilies, feathers, tulle, tissue paper, glue guns (and maybe a shot of bourbon) will fuel the imagination. Have a fashion show and choose a winner.
  • Bourbon Meatballs: Protein will help your guests pace themselves to post time. Pull out your slow cooker to make this favorite Derby appetizer. You’ll need a party-size bag of frozen Italian meatballs, ½ cup ketchup, ½ cup honey, ½ cup bourbon, ½ cup brown sugar, 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons lemon juice and salt and pepper to taste. Put the meatballs in your slow cooker. Mix remaining ingredients in a large bowl and pour over meatballs, coating them as evenly as possible. Cook on high for one hour then turn temperature to low and cook for 2 more hours, stirring occasionally. Serve warm with toothpicks.

Pinterest has hundreds of ideas and recipes to make your Derby party perfect including A Photo Finish picture booth, Kentucky Derby Mad Libs, Horse Betting sheets, “My Old Kentucky Home” lyric sheets, pulled pork sliders, bourbon bacon Chex Mix and Triple Crown Cupcakes using Nutter Butter cookies.

And if you’re game, set up a horseshoe tournament for your partygoers a safe distance away from the crowd and TV.

Coverage of the Kentucky Derby airs on NBC Saturday. Post time is 6:34 p.m. ET. Check out SBR's Derby page.

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