With the 149th Kentucky Derby around the corner and more than $233 million wagered on the race last year, it’s time to start planning. For those celebrating the Derby in their home (or at a nearby establishment), we’re bringing the celebration to you with Kentucky Derby party ideas. We’re talking about mint julep recipes, hats, and other party ideas to keep the festivities exciting all the way to the finish line.
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Kentucky Derby Drink Recipes, Hats & Party Ideas
Fast horses, jaunty jockeys, stylish women, handsome men, and free-flowing hooch (beer, mint juleps, and more)…and in just two minutes, it’s all over. Yes, we’re still talking about the annual celebration, known as Kentucky Derby.
This annual horse racing event is held in Louisville, Kentucky, on the first Saturday in May, as the culmination of the two-week-long Kentucky Derby Festival.
While not many of us may attend the actual event (8.3 million watched it on TV in 2020!), Derby parties are also an annual tradition.
Read on for a Kentucky Derby mint julep recipe, suggestions for alluring Derby hats, fun Derby facts, and party ideas.
Kentucky Derby Cocktail Recipes
More than 120,000 Mint Juleps are served over Kentucky Derby weekend! Did you know that also requires 1,000 pounds of fresh mint and 60,000 pounds of ice?
Let’s get this party started with a traditional Kentucky Derby Mint Jelip recipe — and a non-alcoholic recipe from the beverage architects at Flavorman (a couple of miles from Churchill Downs): Pineapple Mint Tea Julep Mocktail.
Traditional Kentucky Derby Mint Julep Cocktail Recipe
- 2 ounces (60 ml) Bourbon (I prefer Maker’s Mark)
- 1 teaspoon brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons water
- Mint leaves
- 4 Crushed ice cubes
Remove the stems of the mint leaves, then gently muddle.
Add sugar and water in a Julep cup or Collins glass. Fill with crushed ice.
Add Bourbon and garnish with strongly stemmed mint.
Pineapple Mint Tea Julep Mocktail
- 2.5 oz (sweet or unsweetened) black tea
- 1.5 oz pineapple juice
- Fresh mint leaves
- Crushed ice
Muddle 8 mint leaves with the pineapple juice in the bottom of a rocks glass.
Add tea and stir to combine. Add crushed ice to fill the glass.
Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint. Makes one mocktail.
Kentucky Derby Party Ideas for Cocktails
Another hassle-free way to serve Bourbon is to mix mint julep into a punch and let your guests help themselves. This frees you up to be a charming host.
Make ahead of time – at least a couple of hours in advance, so it has time to chill.
Another option is to serve mini-juleps, as many simply sip or toast to the Kentucky Derby tradition and then move on to their favorite drink.
Kentucky Derby Hats – Under $100
Nothing maintains the Kentucky Derby’s reputation more than a stylish and lavish hat for the ladies — with more than 90 percent of female spectators wear hats.
While the average price of a high-end Kentucky Derby hat (that 90% of female spectators wear) is $500 to $1,000, although the most expensive hat in history was priced at a cool $3 million. If like me, that’s a bit steep for our bank account, here are some under $100 Kentucky Derby hats as it’s never too early or too late to buy a hat. My personal favorite Kentucky Derby hats are well below that price point and still guaranteed to be the hit of the Derby party.
For the woman who wants to be pretty in pink, this stylish Koola’s Lady Pink hat is a perfect choice.
Or perhaps you prefer Pretty in Purple…What do you think?
Affordable Kentucky Derby Hats – Under $20
Looking for a one-time Kentucky Derby hat — at a super low price? We’ve got you covered with this feminine gauze creation that also works well for the beach.
(And it’s a steal — go ahead, click here to see multiple options…and you’re welcome!)
Another Kentucky derby hat winner, this sunflower yellow (along with other colors)– and it’s affordable at just under $12.
Kentucky Derby Party Hats – Ideas for Decorating
Purchase one or more of the above affordable Kentucky Derby Hats and use them for a centerpiece! How festive is that!?
Don’t forget to purchase props for selfies!
Kentucky Derby Facts & History
For those intrigued with this run for the roses, here is a round-up of interesting Kentucky Derby facts and history by the numbers, courtesy of WalletHub:
2022 Kentucky Derby Facts & History:
- 150K – Number of attendees expected for the 2022 Kentucky Derby (15 times more compared to the first race in 1875).
- $97 Million – Net revenue increase due to the Kentucky Derby & Oaks in 2021 (despite capacity reductions.
- $233 Million – Total amount wagered on the 2021 Kentucky Derby (85% more than in 2020).
- $500 to $1,000 – Price of a high-end Kentucky Derby hat (90% of female spectators wear hats).
- 120K – Number of Mint Juleps served over Kentucky Derby weekend, requiring 1K pounds of fresh mint and 60K pounds of ice.
- 522,000 – Number of cans of beer that will be consumed. 142,000 hot dogs will be eaten.
- $1.15 Billion – Sales of thoroughbred horses in 2021 (up 44% from 2020).
I would love to host a Kentucky Derby party someday…mostly so I have an excuse to wear one of these gorgeous hats!