Kentucky Derby Party Planning

How-to hostess Brittany Gilbert of Brown-Forman makes her favorite mint julep for entertaining. Plus she showcases an easy Derby-inspired appetizer…

Mint Julep Bar:

A mint julep bar allows party hosts to be able to enjoy their party as much as the guests and for guests to be able to participate in the festivities. Set out all the ingredients needed to make a traditional mint julep as well as various juices, fruits and herbs for those who want to get creative.

Suggested Items:

•             Woodford Reserve bourbon

•             Fresh fruits in bowls (oranges, limes and various berries)

•             Fresh fruit juices (orange, cranberry, pineapple)

•             Fresh herbs in glasses

•             Various bitters, cherries and sugars

•             Mason jars or other glasses

•             Muddler, spoon and straws

 Basil Strawberry Julep

3 fresh basil leaves

2 diced strawberries

1 tablespoon basil simple syrup

Ice (crushed)

2 tablespoons Woodford Reserve bourbon

Add basil leaves, strawberries and simple syrup to a rocks glass. Muddle. Add ice then top with bourbon. Garnish with fresh basil sprig or strawberry and serve.

Basil Simple Syrup: Combine 1 cup basil leaves, 1 cup water and 1 cup of sugar in a small pot. Bring to a slow simmer, stirring often. Once sugar dissolves, remove from stove and cool. Strain to separate leaves from liquid into a container and seal.

 Country Ham & Biscuits

Country ham is a type of cured ham popular in the South, especially in Kentucky. You can purchase uncooked country ham; however, it’s easiest to get a cooked ham. Serve with purchased or homemade biscuits and assorted butter, mustard, jam and honey.


Thinly sliced country ham

Assorted flavored butters, mustards, jams & honey

Derby Décor:

Bourbon Bottle Vase

The Kentucky Derby and bourbon go hand-in-hand. Add effortless but festive elements to your party by using empty bourbon bottles as a vase. Simply secure a bow-tie to the neck of the bottle and add your favorite flowers to the bourbon bottle

Fresh Displays

Fresh fruits and herbs can double as ingredients in your cocktails as well as colorful and seasonal decorations. Arrange various herbs in small vases or julep glasses and set out fruits like oranges, limes and lemons in groups directly on the table. This is a great way to add sophistication with ease.

Horseshoe Name Tags



Chalkboard Tags


Cut ribbon into roughly six inch pieces (enough to tie a bow). Use the ribbon to tie the chalkboard tag around the horseshoe and make a bow. Write the name of each guest on a name tag and either display on a tray or set at each seat to mark the guest’s place. You can also write a festive message on the tag instead of individual names. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

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