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Kentucky Derby Theme Party Menu

What to serve at your Kentuck Derby party? In general, if you stick with Southern food classics, you can't go wrong. But if you're feeling adventurous, you may want to try your hand at whipping up a few of the dishes that are unique to the Triple Crown.

Dishes and Desserts

Burgoo is a thick vegetable stew that usually contains game meat. The perfect dish to start your festivities with!

The Benedictine is a traditional Kentucky Derby sandwich made with mayonnaise, cream cheese, and cucumber.  It's usually given a green color from spinach, parsley, or food dye.

One of the most famous Derby creations is the Hot Brown Sandwich , first created in the 1920's at the Brown Hotel in Louisville.  The Hot Brown is an open-faced sandwich of turkey and bacon covered in Mornay sauce, baked until the bread is toasted and the sauce turns brown.

Now, on to dessert: the Derby Pie, originating in Louisville's Kerns Bakery, is a luscious creation filled with chocolate chips and pecans. 

Bourbon Balls  are a favorite sweet after-dinner snack that honors Kentucky's obsession with bourbon.  To make these balls, make sure that you purchase Kentucky-brewed bourbon.  According to the online editors of Outdoor Life Magazine, the best Kentucky bourbons are Elija Craig (aged 12 or 18 years), Evan Williams Single Barrel, and Wild Turkey.

Another traditional Kentucky Derby dessert is Chocolate Bourbon Pecan Pie, also known as a Dirty Pecan Tart.

Or, you can update the tradition with bourbon-infused Kentucky Derby cupcakes from Yelena Johnson.

Derby-worthy Cocktails

Now, on to the good stuff: time-honored traditional Kentucky Derby cocktails.  You probably know that you can't host a Kentucky Derby party without serving up a few (or many) mint juleps.  The cocktail consists of bourbon, mint and sugar syrup. Traditionally served in a silver julep cup with a sprig of mint, Derby-goers buy it in commemorative Kentucky Derby julep glasses. Here are suggestions for mint juleps and beyond!

The Perfect Mint Julep: Bourbon, fresh spearmint and two types of sugar make this the perfect mint julep.  Rather than just muddling the fresh mint with sugar and bourbon, you actually infuse a small quantity of bourbon with a huge quantity of mint, creating a concentrated flavor. Then, after combining this intense mint-bourbon infusion with the rest of the bourbon and simple syrup, you refrigerate the mixture to allow the flavors to marry perfectly!

The Crown of Roses: Crown Royal, amaretto, pineapple juice and bitters make this cocktail not too sweet or strong.  Did you know that Angostura bitters were initially intended for medicinal purposes? Created from herbal and vegetable extracts, it was first produced in Angostura, Venezuela (hence the name) by Dr. Johann Siegert. Their complete recipe is a secret, so don't try to make them at home!

The Louisville Cooler: Bourbon, orange juice and a littel sugar are all you need to make this refreshing cocktail. Serve in a pretty glass with an orange slice.

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Meet our Writer
Jennifer Geddes
Celebrations Writer

Jennifer Kelly Geddes has hosted Christmas cookie swaps, New Year's open houses, Thanksgiving for 22, and all manner of dinner parties in her Manhattan and Ghent, NY homes.

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