Last Minute Kentucky Derby Party Guide

    The Kentucky Derby is right around the corner and if you're in need of a reason to gather friends for an event there is no better one than throwing a Kentucky Derby party.  This guide will make your party turnkey chalk full of Kentucky Derby hats, attire and a full southern Kentucky Derby party menu (cocktails and food recipes provided below). So, whether you’re hosting, attending or in need of a fun spring theme, the following southern inspirations will get you in the spirit of the Kentucky Derby and give you the info you need for throwing a last minute bash!

    It may be a little late in the game for sending paper invitations, but seek inspiration from these to create an online or printable version!

    Horse Power

    Vintage Inspired

    Derby Day

    Old Time 

    Printable Derby Invitations


    The Derby Hat
    Going hatless to the Kentucky Derby is like attending the race naked. Stand out in one of these fabulous designs and wear your hat with pride in traditional, Kentucky Derby style!

    Big and Fabulous

    Red Straw

    Cloche Hat

    Spring Floral

    Subtle and Sassy

    Derby Fashion
    It's all about color and confidence. Go classic in a black and white block dress or go bold in spring pink. Gather your inspiration from these lovely ladies below. Guys, check out Nick Lachey for style below.

    Red Carpet Ready

    Derby Dresses

    Fun with Pink

    More Fun with Pink

    Your complete Kentucky Derby Menu


    Kentucky is famous for its whiskey. Take this classic, southern liquor and create a festive cocktail with these amazing recipes, including a classic Mint Julep and a signature “Derby" cocktail!

    Black-Eyed Susan

    Created specifically for the Preakness’ 100th anniversary celebration, this 60-year-old cocktail has gone through many iterations over the last few decades.

    Recipe from Zach Wilks and The Oceanaire.

    Makes: 1 drink

    • 1.25 oz. Belvedere vodka
    • .25 oz. St. Germaine
    • 1 oz. lemon juice
    • 6 dashes Angustura bitters
    • A bar spoon full blackberry preserves
    • Ice


    • Fresh sage or mint leaf
    • Mix all ingredients– except ice – in a glass and shake vigorously. Pour into a highball glass over ice. Garnish with sage or mint.



    Mint Julep Recipe

    The secret to any mint julep is a homemade batch of mint simple syrup.  Sip this drink slowly for ultimate enjoyment.

    Recipe provided by What's Cooking America

    Makes 1 drink

    • Mint leaves
    • 2 tablespoons Mint Syrup (see recipe below)
    • Crushed ice
    • 2 tablespoons water
    • 2 ounces good-quality Kentucky bourbon
    • Fresh mint sprig


    • Prepare the Mint Syrup.
    • Crush or muddle a few mint leaves in the bottom of an 8-ounce Mint Julep Cup (using the back of a spoon to crush mint leaves) until mixture forms a paste.
    • Then fill the Mint Julep Cup 1/2 full with crushed or shaved ice. Add prepared Mint Syrup, water, and bourbon. Stir until the silver cup is frosted on the outside. NOTE: A glass tumbler will not frost on the outside.
    • To serve, garnish with a fresh sprig of mint.

    Mint Syrup:

    • 1 cup granulated sugar
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 bunch fresh mint sprigs
    • In a medium saucepan, combine sugar and water. Boil for 5 minutes, without stirring. Remove from heat an pour over a handful of mint leaves and gently crush the mint with a spoon.
    • Refrigerator syrup mixture overnight in a closed jar. Remove mint leaves and continue to refrigerate. This syrup mixture will keep for several weeks.
    • Substitution for Mint Syrup: Purchase a bottle of mint syrup (used for flavoring espresso drinks and Italian sodas). NOTE: Mint Syrup is easier to use, but the taste isn't as great!
    • Makes enough syrup for approximately 8 servings


    The Derby

    Recipe provided by Wine Guy World

    Makes 1 cocktail

    • 1 ounce bourbon (or rye)
    • 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
    • 1/2 ounce orange curaçao
    • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
    • Add all ingredients to an iced cocktail shaker, shake vigorously for 20 or 30 seconds, strain into cocktail glass and garnish with lime.

    Shirley Temple (Non-Alcoholic)

    For a refreshing, non-alcoholic beverage, a Shirley Temple is always a crowd pleaser.

    Makes 1 drink

    • 6 oz lemon-lime soda or similar carbonated beverage
    • 1 dash grenadine syrup (for color and taste)
    • 1 maraschino cherry
    • Combine soda and grenadine, garnish with cherry.

    Delve into southern cooking with these delicious recipes and you are sure to wow your guests with your southern hospitality!

    Roasted Brown Butter Pecans with Rosemary
    Pecans are a classic staple in southern cooking. Try this pecan and rosemary recipe and enjoy as an appetizer.

    Recipe provided by My Recipes 


    • 1/4 cup butter
    • 4 cups pecan halves
    • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
    • 2 teaspoons sugar
    • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
    • Garnish: fresh rosemary leaves

    1. Preheat oven to 350°. Cook butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly, 3 to 5 minutes or just until butter begins to turn golden brown. Immediately remove pan from heat, and stir in pecans. Arrange pecans in a single layer on a baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and sugar.
    2. Bake pecans at 350° for 10 to 12 minutes or until toasted and fragrant, stirring halfway through. Sprinkle with rosemary. Bake 2 more minutes. Cool completely on baking sheet (about 30 minutes). Store in an airtight container.

    Fluffy Cream Cheese Biscuits
    These fluffy cream cheese biscuits will melt in your mouth and leave your guests yearning for more.
    Recipe provided by Southern Living


    • 1 (1/4-oz.) envelope active dry yeast
    • 1/4 cup warm water (105° to 115°)
    • 5 cups all-purpose flour
    • 2 tablespoons sugar $
    • 1 tablespoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • 1 (8-oz.) package cold cream cheese, cut into pieces $
    • 1/2 cup cold butter, cut into pieces
    • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
    • Parchment paper
    • 2 tablespoons butter, melted


    1. Preheat oven to 400°. Combine yeast and warm water in a small bowl; let stand 5 minutes.
    2. Meanwhile, whisk together flour and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; cut cream cheese and cold butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender or fork until crumbly.
    3. Combine yeast mixture and buttermilk, and add to flour mixture, stirring just until dry ingredients are moistened. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly 6 to 8 times (about 30 seconds to 1 minute), sprinkling with up to 1/4 cup additional flour as needed to prevent sticking.
    4. Roll dough to 3/4-inch thickness. Cut with a 2 1/2-inch round cutter, rerolling scraps once. Arrange biscuits on 2 parchment paper-lined baking sheets.
    5. Bake at 400° for 13 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Brush with melted butter.



    Bourbon Marinated Pork Tenderloin
    Bourbon isn’t used solely for cocktails. Check out this Bourbon Marinated Pork Tenderloin recipe for a sweet, tangy meat option.

    Recipe provided by


    • 2 1/2 pounds pork tenderloins
    • 3/4 cup soy sauce
    • 1/2 cup bourbon
    • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
    • 1/4 cup water
    • 1/4 cup canola oil
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 3 tablespoons brown sugar
    • 2 tablespoons ground black pepper
    • 1 teaspoon white pepper
    • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    • 1 teaspoon salt
    • Garnish: fresh parsley sprigs


    1. Rinse tenderloins, and pat dry.
    2. Combine soy sauce and next 9 ingredients in a large zip-top plastic freezer bag or shallow dish; seal or cover, and chill at least 12 hours. Remove pork from marinade, discarding marinade. Sprinkle evenly with salt.
    3. Grill, covered with grill lid, over high heat (400° to 500°) 30 minutes or until a meat thermometer inserted into thickest portion registers 155°, turning occasionally. Remove from heat; cover with aluminum foil, and let stand 10 minutes or until thermometer registers 160°. Garnish, if desired.
    4. Note: For testing purposes only, we used Maker's Mark Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky.


    Sweet Potato Hash
    Another signature southern dish is this sweet potato hash. Sweet and savory, this simple recipe is great as a starter with cocktails.
    Recipe provided by A House in the Hills 


    • 2 cups sliced green onion
    • 4 cups roasted sweet potatoes
    • 2 cups black beans
    • 2 cups chopped kale
    • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt
    • refined coconut oil
    • avocado

    1. This hash is the perfect hearty winter breakfast - a small bowl will get you through until lunchtime without even thought of a snack! This recipe is for a large batch...because leftover hash is almost as good as a room full of puppies. If you don't like leftovers, I recommend halving it to serve two. I hope you love!
    2. Chop sweet potatoes into 1/4 inch cubes, toss in refined coconut oil, spread on baking sheet and roast at 325 degrees until cooked through (in our oven on the convection setting with other veggies roasting simultaneously it was around 25 minutes)
    3. Coat a skillet with refined coconut oil, and sauté onions until just a little soft over medium heat.
    4. Add sweet potato, sea salt and cook over high, stirring occasionally (add coconut oil if potatoes start to stick to the bottom of the pan)
    5. When the potatoes have softened and the onions are cooked through, add black beans and cook for an additional two minutes stirring gently to avoid sticking
    6. Add kale and fold in until it's completely softened/wilted
    7. Serve with avocado slices and your favorite hot sauce (these days i seriously can't get eough of this one!)
    8. - optional garnish additions: cilantro, finely chopped red onion, vegan sour cream


    Cheesy Shrimp Grits
    Nothing says Kentucky Derby like a grits dish! This gourmet Cheesy Shrimp Grits recipe is wonderfully briny with a little bit of spice. Another great addition to your southern smorgasbord.
    Recipe provided by Cooking Channel TV 


    Cheesy Grits:
    • 2 cups low-sodium chicken stock, plus more if needed
    • 2 cups cream, plus more if needed
    • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 3/4 cup grits or polenta
    • 4 ounces American cheese, torn into pieces
    • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan
    • Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

    Sausage, Shrimp and Peppers:
    • 3 tablespoons olive oil
    • 1 pound Parmesan-parsley porksausage, cut into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
    • 4 cloves garlic, minced
    • 1 small orange bell pepper, cut in small dice
    • 1 small red bell pepper, cut in smalldice
    • 1/2 Spanish onion, cut in small dice
    • 1 pound uncooked large shrimp, peeled, deveined and cut into thirds
    • 1/2 cup low-sodium chicken stock
    • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    • Chopped fresh parsley, for garnish

    1. For the grits: Bring the chicken stock, the cream and butter to a simmer in a heavy saucepan. Gradually whisk in the grits. Reduce the heat and simmer until the grits have thickened, 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally to avoid lumps. Once the grits are thick and creamy, stir in the cheeses and adjust the consistency with stock and/or cream and season with salt and pepper. These grits provide a wonderful bed to soak up the flavor from the sausage, shrimp and veggies.
    2. For the sausage, shrimp and peppers: Heat the olive oil in a large skillet. Add the sausages and brown. Then transfer to a plate with a slotted spoon, leaving all of the fat in the skillet. Add the garlic, bell peppers and onions to the skillet, sprinkle with salt and pepper and saute until tender, 5 to 7 minutes. Add the shrimp and saute until they begin to turn pink, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the reserved sausage and the chicken stock to the skillet and let reduce a bit to intensify those flavors. Stir in the butter at the end and garnish with parsley.
    3. Serve the sausage mix over the grits.

    Banana Nut Bread
    For some sweetness, this Banana Nut Bread recipe is a lighter touch on a traditionally decadent dessert bread.

    Recipe provided by Skinny Taste


    • 7 ripe medium bananas, mashed
    • 1/2 cup unsweetened apple sauce
    • 2-1/2 cups unbleached all purpose flour
    • 1-1/2 tsp baking soda
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 4 tbsp butter, softened
    • 1 cup light brown sugar
    • 4 large egg whites
    • 1 tsp vanilla extract
    • 3 oz (3/4 cup) chopped walnuts
    • baking spray

    1. Preheat oven to 350°. Grease two 8x5 inch loaf pans with baking spray.
    2. In a medium bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt with a wire whisk. Set aside.
    3. In a large bowl cream butter and sugar with an electric mixer. Add egg whites, bananas, apple sauce and vanilla, and beat at medium speed until thick. Scrape down sides of the bowl.
    4. Add flour mixture and walnuts, then blend at low speed until combined. Do not over mix.
    5. Pour batter into loaf pans and bake on the center rack for 50 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.
    6. Let the pan cool at least 20 minutes, bread should be room temperature before slicing.

    Now it's off to the races. Tell us how you're planning to celebrate in the comments below or on Twitter or Facebook.