Off To The Races

It’s the time when everyone and anyone that has anything to do with horse racing heads to Louisville to enjoy the one and only Kentucky Derby—one of the most incredible sporting events of the year.


What about you? Are you headed to the Derby this May? If so, you’re a lucky duck. But if a trip to Churchill Downs isn’t in your immediate future, why not throw a Kentucky Derby party to celebrate this great American tradition at home with friends and family? Follow these tips to make your party just as much fun as the real thing.


Kentucky Derby Party Planning Ideas


Dress Code


*Encourage guests to don hats and “Derby” attire. Offer a rose bouquet to the party guest who is dressed the best! As the “host,” you should set the standard. Ladies should dress for success and absolutely must wear a large, amazing hat—wear pearls, pastel suits, bright silks, and anything over the top southern. Men are appropriately dressed Derby in seersucker, bright colors or a blue sports coat.




*Serve Mint Juleps, the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. Follow this original recipe below:


The Early Times Mint Julep Recipe

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • Sprigs of fresh mint
  • Crushed ice
  • Early Times Kentucky Whisky – optional
  • Silver Julep Cups


Make a simple syrup by boiling sugar and water together for five minutes. Cool and place in a covered container with six or eight sprigs of fresh mint, then refrigerate overnight. Make one julep at a time by filling a julep cup with crushed ice, adding one-tablespoon mint syrup and two ounces of Early Times Kentucky Whisky (optional). Stir rapidly with a spoon to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint.


*Prepare traditional Derby fare to serve to guests: chicken salad, shrimp grits, crab cakes, reubens, Kentucky Burgoo, Kentucky hot browns, brie, pickled shrimp and cheddar bisque.


Set the mood


*Make guests feel like they are really at the race by giving them official racing forms and programs direct from Churchill Downs at Encourage partygoers to choose their favorite horse. Award winners with a themed prize—a pecan pie to go or a pair of silver Julep cups.


*Decorate with bright colors and roses. Fill silver Julep cups with red roses. Cover tables with bright “silk” inspired tablecloths and dinnerware, as a nod to the Jockeys’ colorful uniforms called “silks.”


*Print out and display pictures of favored horses, with history and jockey information included.




*Print out lyrics to “My Old Kentucky Home” for a sing-a-long.


* Since the actual race only spans 2 minutes, extend the viewing fun. Tune into NBC for Kentucky Derby footage including undercard races, Red Carpet and the actual race.


*Play these Derby games to keep adults and kids entertained: horseshoes, derby pool, twister derby style, derby pool or frozen jockey. Rules can be found at


Follow these tips to create a fun Kentucky Derby party your guests will talk about for years to come!!!!


Mint Julep Trivia:

Each year, almost 120,000 Early Times Mint Juleps are served over the two-day period of Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby weekend at Churchill Downs Racetrack. That’s a feat that requires more than 10,000 bottles of Early Times Mint Julep Ready-to-Serve Cocktail, 1,000 pounds of freshly harvested mint and 60,000 pounds of ice.