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Kentucky Derby Viewing Party Essentials

Follow Tradition By Including These Elements at Your Party


Guests celebrate “Moët & Chandon Toast to the Kentucky Derby” during the 139th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 4, 2013
Mike Coppola/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

The Kentucky Derby may be an event that's short in duration but, in contrast, it's very long in tradition. It's nearly two centuries old, so there's been a lot of time to build on those traditions. While fashions worn to this famous horse racing event have changed over time, there are certain things surrounding it that have become essential to the viewing participants. If you plan on hosting your own Kentucky Derby Viewing Party, here are the essential elements you'll want to have at your event.

A Television - Let's face it, unless you've gone to Kentucky to host a tailgating party, you're going to want to host your party in a room with a big TV.

Hats! - All the fancy ladies at the Kentucky Derby arrive in their finest designer hats. Be sure to instruct your guests that hats are as necessary for your event as a television. If you and your friends are the casual type, you can challenge them to decorate their own hat and give out prizes for creativity and humor.

Silver Mint Julep Cups (Compare Prices) - The Kentucky Derby is an elegant affair and it gives you an occasion to pull out your crystal, china, and fine tableware from storage. If you decide you'd like to take the opportunity to make this a formal event, then silver mint julep cups can be ordered online. If you and your friends still prefer to be casual, faux silver cups can be found in the party store.

Roses - The Kentucky Derby is called "the run for the roses" so it's no surprise that red roses would be the flower of the day. Hang a rose wreath on your front door, fill crystal vases with red roses to decorate your tables, give each guest a red rose when they arrive - a long stem rose for the ladies and a boutonniere for the gents.

Horses - It wouldn't be The Kentucky Derby without horses, would it? Therefore, add model horses to your tablescape. If you don't have model horses, horseshoes would be equally suitable - just clean them up before placing them on your white linen cloth.

Mint Juleps - No matter what other beverages you plan to serve to your guests, mint juleps must be available at the bar. Serve them in your silver mint julep cups, of course.

Grilled Beef Tenderloin with Henry Bain Sauce - This sauce, named after its Kentucky inventor is usually served with beef tenderloin. I warned you, this is usually a fancy event!

Kentucky Hot Brown Sandwiches - This sandwich is a Louisville favorite and is more budget-friendly and suitable for a casual party. It's a broiled, open-faced turkey sandwich covered with tomato, bacon, and a Cheddar-Parmesan cheese sauce. The richness here is clearly in the sauce.

Benedictine Sandwiches - These cucumber cream cheese sandwiches are another traditional Kentucky Derby dish, perfect for guests with a lighter appetite.

Kentucky Derby Chocolate Walnut Pie - The authentic recipe for this pie is still a trademarked secret. You can order one online from Kern's Kitchen the company that holds the trademark, or create your own pie with this similar recipe. Perhaps you can do both and have a comparative taste test.

If these items don't strike your fancy, consider serving southern barbecue at your party and, when possible, choose recipes that include bourbon, the favorite spirit of the region.

Pork Tenderloin with Bourbon Sauce - This easy recipe can be prepared either in your kitchen or outside on the grill.

Biscuits - This basic biscuit recipe will take as little time to whip up as it takes to watch them disappear.

Corn on the Cob - Follow these tips to keep your corn-on-the-cob from turning into a gummy mess.

Crockpot Baked Beans - Start these early in the morning the day of your party and there will be that much less to prepare when your guests arrive.

Bourbon Balls - These tasty treats may appeal to the kids at your party, but you probably won't want to serve it to them.

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