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5 Ways to Throw a Dashing Kentucky Derby Party

So, you want to throw a Kentucky Derby Party this year, but getting started is a daunting task. No worries! Equestrian Stylist is here to help. The run for the roses, the greatest two minutes in sports—whatever you want to call it—is surrounded by time-honored traditions. Including these traditions into your party will help make it an authentic experience, and guests will appreciate this. After all, what is the Derby without mint juleps?

For starters, we’ve included the recipe for the classic mint julep, but read on: we’ve given you 5 ways to make your derby party a dashing and memorable experience!

Feast on Traditional Kentucky Food and Beverages



Mint Julep

–       3 to 5 fresh mint leaves

–       2 tablespoons julep syrup (see below)

–       Crushed ice

–       1/4 cup bourbon

–       1 fresh mint sprig

Place mint leaves and syrup in a chilled julep cup, and muddle. Pack cup tightly with crushed ice; add bourbon and mint sprig.

Mint Syrup: Boil 1 1/2 cups sugar and 1 1/2 cups water, stirring often, 2 to 3 minutes or until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat; add 15 fresh mint sprigs, and cool completely. Cover and chill 24 hours. Strain syrup; discard solids.

Or, for the quick and dirty version of the old classic, watch this video .

Kentucky Bourbon Burgoo

Burgoo could be called the national stew of Kentucky. Now a time-honored tradition of the classiest of derby parties, Burgoo was once a good way to disguise strange meats into a stew. Songwriter Robert Myles claimed, “You can toss in almost anything that ever walked or flew.” There was a time when adding opposum, squirrel, or raccoon to your Burgoo was an okay thing to do, but we would not recommend that for your dapper derby party.  Follow this link to discover the acceptable things to put into your stew.

 Kentucky Hot Brown

One night in 1926, a delicious open-faced sandwich of turkey and bacon was born at Louisville’s Brown Hotel. The sandwich, drizzled with a delectable Mornay Sauce, has remained a Lousiville Favorite. (As a side note, this is a delicious way to deal with Thanksgiving leftovers!) Why not add these ingredients to your shopping list and serve up some Hot Browns on derby day?

Derby Pie

Derby pie was invented in Kentucky for derby day itself. The chocolate chip and pecan pie has been imitated by many, but only a select few are privy to the authentic recipie, which remains closely guarded by Ken’s Kitchen. However, they can be ordered online here


Or put a modern spin on some old, traditional favorites

Julep Cupcakes 

Go ahead, have some Julep Cake or Julep Cupcakes to go along with that minty beverage you have in your hand! For the recipe, click here.



Bow Ties and Derby Hats All Around!

Style is extremely important in making your Kentucky Derby Party authentic and fun. Vineyard Vines is the official style of the Derby, so check out the Kentucky Derby section of their site for an idea of what is appropriate. (And check out some of these styles below! Can we say adorable?) Make sure your lady guests know that fascinators, sundresses, and floppy hats are generally the rule.



Women Only-1


No, it’s not required for guys to wear bowties, but they can be fun. Check out this creative way to turn your dining utensils and napkins into a preppy, expressive statement.



 Whether you’re sporting the bow tie or just a regular tie, you’ll be sure to look snazzy. After all, it is derby day!

Ladies, it’s finally time to put that  fascinator or big floppy hat on top of your beautiful head. As we know, hats are a huge part of derby day, so use them as centerpieces or creative decorations. The derby as its distinctive elements (red roses and big hats for example), so use them around the house. Also, decorate with those extra horseshoes you have around your barn!



Throw a Vintage Derby Party

Serve those traditional Kentucky favorites with a throwback to their roots! (Mint juleps are at their best in Prohibition style.) Now’s the time to sport that vintage fascinator or pillbox hat you’ve been keeping in your closet. Okay, okay, I know not EVERYONE has a pillbox hat stowed away in their room, but you can still rock the styles from the past. Guys, what’s better than betting on racehorses when you’re dressed up like a 1920s gangster? Hide your sound system and rock out the tunes of the New Orleans and Chicago Style Jazz era.



Take the Derby Dash Outdoors

For a real crowd pleaser, do an outdoor setup for your derby party. Turn your yard into a party space and let your guests rock their sunhats and finery in the May sunshine. If you can get your hands on a projector (and if you have a dark, shady corner in your yard) you can play the derby outside. Set up tables with white tablecloths in the garden for a formal look, and load them up with your julep cupcakes and derby pie.




Use these tips as a guide, but don’t be afraid to be creative. Fashion rules are meant to be broken by those who dare to make a statement. Equestrian Stylist wishes you a fun and stylish derby day!

1 Comment on 5 Ways to Throw a Dashing Kentucky Derby Party

  1. From here in the Northeast US, the Kentucky Derby kicks off May, unofficially “Preppy Liberation Month” to some!

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