The Kentucky Derby is a time of year that brings both Kentucky locals and out-of-towners together to celebrate the most exciting two minutes in sports. The Kentucky Derby takes place the first Saturday in May and festivities kick off 2 weeks before. There are many events taking place over this period for people of all ages! In this blog post, we will take a look at how you can celebrate the Kentucky Derby like a local. We will discuss food, drinks, activities that local Louisvillians enjoy.
How to Celebrate the Kentucky Derby Like a Local
Kentucky Derby food
Kentucky Hot Brown
The Kentucky Derby is known for its famous Kentucky Hot Brown. This open-faced turkey sandwich gets topped with Mornay Sauce and bacon and then broiled to perfection! Many refer to this dish as a heart attack on a plate. But that doesn’t keep people from loving it. There are so many different variations of how to prepare your Kentucky Hot Brown. If you want the “famous” Kentucky Hot brown, The Brown Hotel is where you need to visit. They are known for their Hot Brown. You can even prepare their recipe at home.
Kentucky Derby Pie
The Kerns Family is the holder of the official Derby Pie. These are amazing and can be bought at grocery stores throughout our city. I highly recommend grabbing one next time you are here. But if you would like to make your own rendition of the pie, it is not a hard dessert to make and it will be a winner on the dessert table.
Atta Girl Says has a great recipe that I have enjoyed making each year. She calls her pie The Kentucky Derby Trifecta Pie.
Bourbon Cocktail Meatballs
Bourbon Cocktail Meatballs are a great Kentucky Derby appetizer. This Kentucky staple is loved by all and can be used as an hors d’oeuvre or even served with pasta for dinner! Anything with bourbon in it ranks high in the Bluegrass state.
By the way, have you heard of the Bourbon Trail? You would love to spend the weekend on our Bourbon trails in Kentucky.
Cheddar Box Cheese Torte
The Cheddar Box is a local restaurant that serves amazing food. It is a local lunch place that has soups, sandwiches and they serve a cheese torte that will leave you wanting more all year long. The Cheese Torte has become a Kentucky Derby staple for many locals. Check out their recipe.
Kentucky Derby Drinks
First I have to warn you… Bourbon! Kentucky is known as the Bourbon state and it will be flowing this time of year. So get ready for some bourbon choices. I promise I will add some non-bourbon ideas too!
It’s made with ginger beer, lime juice, and mint leaves, and of course, Kentucky Bourbon served over ice for a refreshing drink. The tradition is to serve the drink in a copper mule.
- 4 oz. ginger beer
- 1 ½ oz. bourbon
- ½ oz. lime juice, freshly squeezed
- Crushed ice, for serving
- Fresh mint, for garnish
In the 1930s this was named the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. From that point, locals have perfected it and served it at their Kentucky Derby Parties. A little over 120,000 Mint Juleps are served at the Kentucky Derby each year. That is almost 10,000 bottles of bourbon and 1,000 pounds of mint according to Pure Wow.
This drink is so simple. It only has 4 ingredients in it. Mint, simple syrup, bourbon, and ice. Check out My Old Kentucky Home Pinterest board for your recipe.
Mint Julep Non Alcoholic
This is such a fun drink. Everyone will love the non-alcoholic Mint Julep. It has the tanginess of limes, lemons & ginger, and the sweetness of the simple syrup. I have pinned one of my favorite Virgin Mint Julep recipes on My Kentucky Home Pinterest board.
Kentucky Derby Activities
The Kentucky Derby activities start two weeks before the actual Derby.
Thunder of Louisville
The kick-off of the Derby season is a spectacular air show and fireworks show called Thunder Over Louisville. You can spend the whole day down on the riverfront enjoying the kick-off of the Kentucky Derby.
Derby Festival Marathon
Are you a runner? My daughter and husband both have done the mini-marathon and have the T-shirt to prove it. My husband said he did it and never going to do it again. He is not a runner but was running for a great cause. The Derby Festival Marathon is a mini and a full marathon. People come from all over to run this race.
My Old Kentucky Home
The official song of the Kentucky Derby. My Old Kentucky Home was written by Stephen Foster. Since the early 1930’s The University of Louisville Marching Band plays the song while the crowd and TV watchers stand and sings the State Song. Join into the festivities by learning the song and when watching this year the Derby, you too can sing along.
One thing is true. Kentucky people know how to throw a derby party. Derby parties are filled with great food, decorations, and place your bets on your lucky horse. The children make stick horses and recreate the derby race. I get amazing ideas and products from Etsy. Small businesses that love the derby as much as I do, which is where I want to start when planning a derby party.
Have you ever been to Cabo? When winter comes, I love heading to warmer wearther. Check out this post on Wirikuta Dinner Show that we got to go to.