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A Day at the Races:: Kentucky Derby Party

Annette's tips for hosting a Kentucky Derby party cannot be beat, and a Kentucky Derby party wouldn't be complete without a classic cocktail, a Mint Julep. Annette's tips for hosting a Kentucky Derby party cannot be beat, and a Kentucky Derby party wouldn't be complete without a classic cocktail, a Mint Julep.

Hi Everyone! It’s Nicole, Annette’s web-manager here. I don’t know about you, but the Kentucky Derby is my unofficial start to summer. One of my very best college girlfriends is from Lexington, Kentucky, and she instilled a love for the race in us while we were in school.

Even though I’ve only gotten to have one trip to Churchill Downs for the run for the roses, there’s something about the Kentucky Derby that keeps me intrigued year after year. Maybe it’s the beautiful horses or the fabulous fashion…or maybe it’s the the Mint Juleps. Either way, it’s such a quintessential, classic event.

This year, I’m planning to watch the races with friends. Who knows? Maybe we’ll don fun hats and chic sundresses for the occasion, too. I’ve already started thinking about decor, food, and beverages for the day, and of course, I’ve turned to Annette for all of the details.

Annette's tips for hosting a Kentucky Derby party cannot be beat, and a Kentucky Derby party wouldn't be complete without a classic cocktail, a Mint Julep.

Annette’s tips for hosting a Kentucky Derby party cannot be beat. I love her ideas for decor like including vintage horse trophies and ribbons, sprinkling in plastic horses here and there, and making sure roses make an appearance. To plan a party of your own, you can find her full list of tips here.

And a Kentucky Derby party wouldn’t be complete without a classic cocktail, and what’s more appropriate than a Mint Julep? A splash of simple syrup and a whole lot of Bourbon makes for one sinfully sweet sip.

Classic Mint Julep by Becky Stayner
serves 1

You will need:
– Crushed ice
– 2 oz. good Bourbon
– 1 oz. simple syrup
– 6 leaves of fresh mint + fresh mint for garnish

To prepare:

Make the simple syrup by bringing one cup of water to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and stir in one cup of sugar till it dissolves. Once it’s chilled, stir in mint leaves to steep overnight (a trick from Annette’s friend, Becky). Put crushed ice, bourbon, and mint leaf simple syrup in a julep cup. Garnish with fresh mint leaves. Don’t crush the leaves! Be gentle…after all, this is a Southern drink.

xo, Nicole

photos by Leslie Graham

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Kentucky Derby Party- Think like a stylist

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Last year I designed a Kenucky Derby themed party for Minted . With a few touches and a nod to the race, it was a pretty simple party to pull together. As a stylist, I also try to come up with a color theme, and then go from there. In this case greens and pinks, with silver and gold touches, roses, silver trophies, and a touch of vintage was the thing.

Here’s a list of of elements of the party you can easily put together.

1. Rent some trophies: most local antique or vintage stores have no problem renting things (think like a stylist)

2. You can also get vintage ribbons online, or again rent them from a vintage store.

3. Buy plastic horses: I suggest going to Amazon  spray paint them gold

4. Use candy jars and fill them with the plastic horses

5. Flowers? Roses of course.

6. Paper fans can be used to make winners’ ribbons

7. Find vintage riding photos in black and white to create a collage

8. Serve mint juleps with striped straws

9. Use mint julep cups for arrangements

9. Ask guests to wear hats, and have a “best hat” contest

Let me know how it goes.

Just know: by collecting a few horse themed things and choosing just the right color scheme, you can have a wonderful day at the races. …and they’re off!

Photos By: Leslie Graham

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