The Kentucky Derby Party Guide

There is no where better to be at the kickoff of May than the Kentucky Derby. There is fantastic weather, beautiful horses, and bourbon galore! However, if you're not in Kentucky that doesn't mean you can't celebrate. We have compiled a fantastic list for your derby party no matter where you're located. 

1. Bourbon 

No one can throw a sufficient Kentucky Derby day party without some fantastic bourbon. If you're a newbie to bourbon, stick to the fan favorites. These brands include Knob Creek, Woodford Reserve, and Maker's Mark. If you really want to impress your guests choose Pappy Van Winkle (yes, that's a real bourbon!).

Bourbon is unique because it is ONLY made it Kentucky. Well.. at least the real stuff! 95% of the world's bourbon is made in Kentucky and it differs from whiskey in the fact that it is made 51% out of corn giving it a sweeter finish. Can't drink it straight? Here's your next best thing: 

Picture and instructions by   camillestyles  .  com

Picture and instructions by


  • 2.5 ounces bourbon
  • 25–30 mint leaves
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • ice cubes
  • crushed ice

For the mint simple syrup:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1 large bunch mint leaves


1. First, you’ll make the simple syrup. Combine the water and sugar and bring to a boil. Stir until the sugar has completely dissolved. Place the bunch of mint leaves in an old mason jar (or other heatproof container) and pour the syrup over the leaves. Place the jar in the fridge and let the leaves steep in the syrup for at least one hour. Strain the leaves from the liquid and set the syrup aside.

2. Place your 25–30 mint leaves in a cocktail shaker and pour in the 2.5 ounces of bourbon as well as one ounce of your simple syrup. Top with a few ice cubes and stir. Fill your chilled silver cup with ice about halfway. Strain the liquid from the cocktail shaker into the cup. Pack crushed iced on top of the liquid to the top of the glass. Garnish the drink with a sprig of mint leaves and a straw.

3. Place your bets!

2. Hats

It isn't the Oscars or the Grammy's but it mine as well be in Kentucky! One of the defining traits of the Kentucky Derby are the hats. When the Derby was started over 137 years ago hats were a staple for women. Today, the derby goers still hold steady to that tradition. You may not know that some of these hats take weeks to put together. However, that doesn't have to be what you wear to your party! Instead, look for cheaper options online and buy in bulk as a fun add-on for your friends. You can provide them or ask for your guests to bring them in the invitation. Getting in the spirit and style of the Derby is half the fun. 

3. Games

Can't stare at the TV all day just watching the derby? Play some games! Whether it is horeshoe or cornhole, games are an intrinsic part of the Kentucky Derby experience. This is a day-long event therefore, you need to entertain your guests. Getting them outside will give you a chance to prep for your next hors d'oeurve, bet, or cocktails. Get up and have some fun!

4. Bets

There is nothing like good old fashioned gambling when it comes to horse races. You can make your own by collecting bets and tallying the score on a chalkboard. You don't need to be at the Derby to win (or lose) some cash with your friends! If your guests are uncomfortable with the betting aspect, nix it all together. However, if you know it would add some excitement to your party, plan ahead. 

5. Roses

The bloom to accompany your party? Roses of course. The Kentucky Derby is also known as the "run for the roses" because the winning horse receives a blanket made up of over 500 roses. If you're not a bourbon fan make you can provide rosé instead. Of course, include some roses around your home or venue to keep it on theme. Do you have any other Kentucky Derby favorites?

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