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Easy Derby Day Party Ideas for a Fresh Take on a Southern Inspired Gathering

Our Cassie LaMere Events team is putting the finishing touches on this weekend’s Derby Day Party and as seasoned Southern Hosts, we’re sharing a few easy tips for reinventing your Kentucky Derby gathering that will send you off to the races!

Bourbon whiskey cart with vintage crystal glasses and decanter at an event

Everyone loves to get into the spirit of the Derby and the race has all of the ingredients of a fabulous party; the over-the-top fashion, the Southern Charm, and the signature sips. Pair that with ample entertainment courtesy of the most exciting 2 minutes in sports and you have all of the makings of a grand occasion.

Hot of the heels of a trip to the bourbon trail, we felt inspired to reinvent the traditional take on the Derby Party with some new ideas that felt fresh, effortless, and still quintessentially Southern. Here are the easy Derby Day party ideas you can bet on.

To Julep or Not to Julep

Bourbon whiskey cart with vintage crystal glasses and decanter at an event

It wouldn’t be a Derby party without the signature cocktail on the menu, but we’ll also be serving up some playful bourbon cocktails that are sure to be crowd pleasers.

Try a Bourbon Sour Slush, because who doesn’t love a slushy beverage on a hot day? This cocktail allows key bar ingredients to do double-duty by utilizing the same ice that you’ll need for the classic julep. Speaking of the consummate Southern host, we’ll be making Patricia Altschul of Bravo’s Southern Charm’s personal recipe, which calls for crushed ice, whiskey sour mix, and bourbon + garnishes of orange slice and maraschino cherry. For those of you who are from the South and in the know, think Sonic ice.

A Kentucky Mule is a fun twist on a familiar cocktail and works well in an ice-cold metal cup- another must for a bourbon-fueled affair.

Michter’s Bourbon Paper Plane cocktail

If you prefer a spritz, try a Paper Plane: besides bourbon, a key ingredient is fan-fav Aperol. We love using Michter’s and by including this enthusiast pick on your bar menu, bourbon fans will take note of your extensive whiskey knowledge.

Roses, but Not So Literal

Rose charcuterie and cheese board

Reinventing the Derby Day party calls for finding creative ways to incorporate roses into your food, beverage, and decor that are unexpected. Our team loves rose-petal charcuterie for an elevated presentation of snackable meats and cheeses. Simply place layers of meat onto the rim of a wine glass and when completed, flip the glass over on your board to reveal a flora masterpiece. See Couple in the Kitchen‘s quick 4-step guide to this hosting hack.

The current viral trend of freezing juice in rose shaped ice trays is perfect for on-theme mimosas that pair well with a fabulous Derby hat. Check out Five Foot Feminine’s video for a quick how to. Invite guests to pick their rose and place it into a chic coupe glass, then pour over your favorite champagne for a beverage worthy of the winner’s circle.

Finger Lickin’ Good

Ralph Lauren Polo Bar burger and fries

In the spirit of keeping things simple, stick to accessible menu classics that wash down well with a bourbon. Southern style entertaining is taking something familiar, comforting, and mouth-watering, and adding a thoughtful touch to how it is presented.

Serve up a mound of fried chicken on a silver serving tray to make a staple seem special when placed on the table. Or take a cue from Ralph Lauren’s equestrian-themed Polo Bar and serve french fries in silver julep cups with an array of dipping sauces.

A Horse in the Race

Home bar cart with vintage decor and silver trophy

Lastly, don’t miss out on an opportunity to make the party interactive! No Derby Day party is complete without some friendly competition. For a quick way to ensure everyone can join in on the fun, place the roster of names into a silver trophy or champagne ice bucket and have guests draw out their thoroughbred.

Plan a fun, equestrian-themed prize for the winner to take home, such as a bottle of Blanton’s, a Polo baseball cap, or a greenery wreath that guests can display proudly as new home decor.

We hope our tips will ensure you can spend less time prepping and more time enjoying a lively afternoon of cocktails and comfort food with friends in your home. Be sure to tag us in your party pics!

Images 1 and 2 Courtesy of Shannon Skloss x Cassie LaMere Events | Image 3 Cassie LaMere Events | Image 4 Dagnushka x Cassie LaMere Events | Image 5 Bon Appetit | Image 6 Pinterest

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