Kentucky Derby Party Guide

For both seasoned hosts and newcomers, this guide offers the blueprint for throwing an unforgettable Kentucky Derby watch party!

hosting the ultimate derby party: a guide to food, drinks, and decor


And, They’re Off! 🏇🏆🏁

With the Kentucky Derby being one of the most exciting events of the year, hosting a watch party is a fantastic way to gather friends and family for a day filled with horse racing, fun, and Southern charm. Whether you’re a seasoned host or new to the party scene, this guide will help you throw an epic Kentucky Derby watch party that your guests will not soon forget!

Food: Savoring Southern Flavors

Chocolate Pecan Pie Recipe.


No Kentucky Derby watch party is complete without a spread of delicious Southern-inspired dishes. Here are some must-have items to include on your menu: 

  1. Hot Brown Sliders: A Kentucky classic, these mini sandwiches feature turkey, bacon, and a creamy Mornay sauce between toasted bread slices. They’re a perfect savory dish for your hungry guests. 
  2. Mint Julep Cupcakes: Start the festivities off right with these confections. Infused with fresh mint and bourbon, they’re a sweet allusion to the Derby’s signature cocktail.
  3. Bourbon Balls: These bite-sized chocolates are a Kentucky tradition in themselves. Made with bourbon, pecans, and chocolate, they’re a classic Derby day treat that’s hard to beat!
  4. Chocolate Pecan Pie: A dessert synonymous with Kentucky that often makes its appearance around Derby time. A blend of chocolate chips, pecans, and buttery filling encased in a flaky crust, this pie is a treat that captures the essence of Southern hospitality. (See above recipe)

Drinks: Raise a Glass to the 150th Running

Kentucky Derby Stretch Banner.


The Kentucky Derby is synonymous with the Mint Julep, but there are plenty of refreshing beverages to enjoy during the festivities. Here are some drink options to keep your guests happy and hydrated: 

  1. Mint Julep: No Derby party would be complete without this classic cocktail. Mix bourbon, mint, sugar, and crushed ice for a refreshing drink that’s sure to please. 
  2. Southern Belle Punch: This fizzy and fruity concoction is a great “batch-style” drink for serving a crowd. Mix together bourbon, lemonade, peaches, and sparkling water for a refreshing Southern-twist cocktail.
  3. Sweet Tea: An absolute Southern staple, sweet tea is a must have beverage for your Kentucky Derby party. Serve it over ice with lemon wedges for a timeless non-alcoholic drink option.
  4. Bourbon Lemonade: Combine your favorite bourbon, lemonade, and a bit of soda water for a refreshing take on a classic cocktail. Garnish with a lemon slice and mint spring to take it to the next level. 

Decorations: Setting the Scene

Kentucky Derby Framed Posters.


Set the stage for your Kentucky Derby watch party with festive decorations that capture the spirit of the event. Here are some ideas to inspire your decor: 

  1. Run for the Roses Centerpieces: Create beautiful floral arrangements using red roses, the official flower of the Kentucky Derby. Place them in julep cups or commemorative Derby glasses for a festive touch. 
  2. Derby Day Banners: Welcome guests to your party with a festive banner featuring phrases like “Run for the Roses” or “Down the Stretch”. Hang it near the entrance to set the tone for the party. 
  3. Kentucky Derby Memorabilia: Display vintage Derby posters, programs, photos, and glasses to add a bit of nostalgia. 
  4. Race Day Tableware: Serve food and drinks on themed tableware featuring horseshoes, jockeys, or the Derby logo. Look for plates, napkins, and cups in Derby inspired colors like red, green, and gold. 

By following these tips for food, drinks, and decorations, you’ll be on your way to hosting an epic Kentucky Derby watch party that captures all the excitement and tradition of the beloved event. So put on your pastel attire, pour yourself a Mint Julep, and get ready to cheer on your favorite horse as they run for the roses!