Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Derby Planning: Part I


Shut the front door. Are you telling me that you watched Bethenney Ever After? On purpose and not against your will? I knew you'd come around! Also hysterical that your memory of Monday's episode is humor and mine is of me crying on the sofa when Nanny Gina announced she had to leave the family for personal issues. TEARS!

In other news we are T minus 17 days until the Run for the Roses, my favorite day of the year. In my family Derby Day is bigger than Christmas. There, I said it. Derby Day then baby Jesus. It gives me chills just thinking about it! Of course, as you know, this year  I'm not going because my lil' cousin is graduating from our dear alma mater. Who does that!? So Jefe and I are throwing our very first Derby party for the out-of-town guests.

Sara from Breaking Up With Bread emailed me the other day because as it turns out, she's a Derby Baby and has decided to host a Derby themed birthday party on her roof deck in San Francisco. Perfection! She asked for some tips on all the Derby trimmings and putting together a list has been a great exercise for our own party planning.

I'm gonna break it down over several posts...


You can have a horse racing party on the first Saturday in May, but unless you include mint juleps, it's not a Derby Party. Here's the recipe I like:

1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 cup mint leaves
Crushed ice
Mint sprigs

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Cover and cook without stirring for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool. Place the mint leaves in a bowl and bruise the mint with the back of a wooden spoon. Place the mint in a jar and add the sugar syrup. Cover and chill for 12 to 25 hours. Strain the mixture and discard the mint when ready to use. Fill frosted silver mint julep glasses or old-fashioned glasses with crushed ice to serve. Add 1 tablespoon of the syrup and one ounce of the bourbon for each serving. Stir, garnish with a mint sprig and serve with a half-sized straw. Makes 20 servings. Derby Entertaining, McClanahan Publishing 2008

There are a ton of mint julep recipes online too. Find one that suits you and go with it. Pick a bourbon that suits you too. Like most liquors, there is a wide variety and price range from Louisville native Hunter S. Thompson's favorite Wild Turkey ($) to Maker's Mark ($$) to my favorite Woodford Reserve ($$$) to  Pappy Van Winkle ($$$$).

The recipe above calls for frosted silver mint julep cups. And if you have 'em girl, use 'em. But for the rest of us, I recommend scoring some new or vintage track glasses. When you buy a mint julep at Churchill Downs on Derby Day for around $10 it comes in one of these lovely glasses. After the last race of the day you can see thousands of race fans leaving the track carrying stacks of glasses to take home as collectors items. There is a different glass every year and the names of all of the previous Derby winners are listed on the back. Very cool.

Next up: FOOD.


PS... On Pregnant in Heels last night, a pregnant bride got married at your venue: Battery Gardens! So pretty. Oh, and the dog peed on her dress.

PPS... I LOVE your lime! Can we take a shadow box picture of a mint julep and blow it up HUGE to hang in our kitchen? Just a thought.


  1. Thanks for the tips! Juleps are totally on the top of the list and now I'm lusting after those vintage derby glasses! Can't wait to see what's next.

  2. You can also totally cheat and buy mint julep mixer: I love these stoneware cups from Louisville Stoneware too: