Kentucky Derby Party Checklist

The Kentucky Derby may be considered “the most exciting two minutes in sports,” but it is also well-known as a cosmopolitan extravaganza that features the best in Southern food and drink. Because the Kentucky Derby is such a classy affair that welcomes in all the unique flavors of spring, grab your friends, your favorite Derby hat and out your skills you’ve learned in culinary class online to the test!

A Kentucky Derby-themed party is a great way to enjoy sports, food and a high-end experience all in one package. Here’s an easy checklist to help you prepare for everyone’s favorite event on the first Saturday in May:

Mint julep
It’s just not a Derby Party without the event’s classic beverage: the mint julep. Remarkably fresh, sweet and simple, this cocktail is the traditional drink of the event, and would be a fitting refreshment to serve your guests. To start, make a mint simple syrup by boiling 2 cups of water and 2 cups of sugar for five minutes, or until the sugar has dissolved. Then, place in a covered container in your refrigerator overnight with 6 to 8 sprigs of fresh mint.

To make the cocktail at your party, fill a cup with crushed ice, add one tablespoon of the mint simple syrup and two ounces of your favorite bourbon. Stir rapidly to mix, then serve with a fresh sprig of mint.

Kentucky hot browns
This rich sandwich was invented at the Brown Hotel in Louisville, Ky., in the 1920s, and has been a staple on Derby Day menus ever since. Southern Living Magazine offered up a great recipe that can’t be beat. To start, grab two white bread slices and arrange sliced roasted turkey on one of them. Cover the turkey with hot cheese sauce and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Then, broil the sandwiches in your oven until the cheeses have browned together. Top this open-faced sandwich with sizzling bacon slices and sliced tomatoes, and you have a traditional Kentucky hot brown.

Bourbon balls
To wow your guests with everything you’ve learned in the baking & pastry arts, try making these bourbon balls for your Derby party. Southern Living offered a great recipe for this classic dessert as well.

Here’s what you’ll need:

1 package of brown sugar (16 ounces)
¼ cup of softened butter
1 tablespoon of shortening
About 1 ¼ cups of pecan halves (around 50)
2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips
⅓ cup of bourbon

Here’s what to do:

Combine the sugar, bourbon and butter until well-incorporated. Cover with plastic wrap and let chill in your refrigerator for 8 hours. Then, make 1-inch balls with the mixture using clean hands. Take two pecan halves and press them into two sides of the balls. Allow these to chill for another eight hours. While getting ready for your party, melt the chocolate morsels with shortening in a small saucepan. Slowly dip the balls into the chocolate and set them on a sheet covered in wax paper. Allow your bourbon balls to chill in your refrigerator until they have hardened.

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