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Friday, April 30, 2010

Kentucky Derby Party

Tomorrow is Derby Day and a great excuse to throw together a quick party! I have to admit that I was never really that interested in the Kentucky Derby until I met my husband who's extended family has been very involved in Kentucky horse breeding for a long time. My mother-in-law will literally stop answering the phone tomorrow around 2 p.m. because she will be glued to the television coverage of the race which starts at 6:24 p.m. In any event, this year the race managed to sneak up on me and here we are a day away from it with no plans, but it's not too late to whip up an improptu cocktail party to be a part of this fun event.
One of the great things about the Kentucky Derby is that it literally draws all walks of life. You can buy tickets to the Infield where you can party like you did in college in crazy costumes with beer pong tables (but probably won't be able to see the race) or you can go to Millionaires Row (if you have the means to get there) where everyone is in their finest seersucker and custom made Derby hats. Either way color is key. Since this is a last minute party make it easier on everyone and go with the one that comes more naturally for your friends. My friends tend to be colorful (in oh so many ways) so I'd probably just keep it simple and tell everyone to where their best brights. No need to go shopping...just pull out some Lilly or even some of your most colorful J. Crew. Then grab a straw hat-the bigger the better-add a great ribbon and a big bold flower-real or faux- and/or some feathers and you've got yourself a Derby hat.
If you are going the college party route just throw some burgers on the grill. Otherwise, keep it simple and think spring. A great cheese and charcuterie platter and some asparagus spears wrapped in proscuitto are easy to make and equally as delicious. I've noticed lots of hat shaped cookies in the bakeries these days in honor of mother's day which would also work well for the derby so they would be great to include as something sweet.
And last but certainly not least, you MUST have mint juleps. The Early Times Mint Julep is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby and note that it calls for you to let the syrup overnight, but not all recipes do. They are preferably served in a sterling mint julep cup, but if you don't have enough of those laying around a glass hi ball will work just fine.
The race takes place a Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY and can be seen at 6:24 p.m. on NBC.

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