These food, drink and decor ideas are the perfect recipe to celebrate Derby at home

Derby may not be on the first Saturday in May this year, but that doesn’t mean you can’t celebrate at home! Here are some Derby inspired food and drink recipes, along with simple ways to make your table look great and keep kids entertained!

Be sure celebrate while watching a special encore presentation of the 2015 Kentucky Derby on May 2 on WAVE 3 News, along with  a virtual race with the 13 past Triple Crown winners.

Derby Inspired Food and Cocktail Recipes

Credit : Rosemary’s Catering at the Kentucky Derby Museum

Pimento Cheese


  •     ½ pound cream cheese (at room temperature)
  •     2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
  •     ½ cup mayonnaise
  •     2 cloves fresh garlic, minced
  •     1 shallot, minced
  •     1 cup chopped roasted red pepper (canned is fine)
  •     Juice of ½ a lemon
  •     Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on medium speed until incorporated.

Nashville Hot Fried Chicken


  •     4 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  •     1 cup full-fat cultured buttermilk
  •     1 cup Frank’s Red Hot
  •     2 cups all-purpose flour
  •     Salt and pepper to taste

The key to good fried chicken is seasoning. Having enough salt in your fried chicken is critical to keeping it juicy and not dry – so this tangy, spicy fried chicken recipe depends on a brine for flavor. I use thigh meat here because I prefer dark meat (it’s almost impossible to overcook and dry out), but you could easily make this recipe with chicken breast.

For the brine: in a mixing bowl, combine the buttermilk and hot sauce with 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon pepper. Add the chicken thighs, be sure they are well-submerged in the brine, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

For the breading: to the flour, add 1 tablespoon salt and 1 tablespoon pepper to the flour and mix well. Drain the chicken thighs and dredge in the flour mixture thoroughly. This is very important – be sure they are fully coated in flour.

There are a few ways to fry at home. Personally, I prefer a good old-fashioned cast iron skillet or dutch oven on the stovetop and a neutral oil with a high smoking point like canola, or corn oil. But there are a lot of modern appliances that get the job done too, like air fryers or electric tabletop deep-fryers. However you end up frying, it’s critical to go low and slow – meaning you should fry at around 300 degrees for about 10 minutes, or until the internal temperature of your chicken thighs reaches 190 degrees (for chicken breast, it should be pulled at 160, to rest up to a safe temperature of 165). Frying at a higher temperature will tend to burn your breading while leaving the inside of your fried chicken raw, and there’s nothing worse than having to finish fried chicken in the oven and ending up with a bitter, blackened breading.

Bourbon and Peach Jam


  •     4 cups peeled, crushed ripe peaches
  •     1 package pectin
  •     ¼ cup lemon juice
  •     5 cups light brown sugar
  •     1 cup Kentucky bourbon
  •     1 teaspoon salt

It’s remarkable how easy it is to make preserves, jams and jellies at home. It’s also a great way to utilize fruit that’s close to going bad, like a pound of strawberries that’s beginning to look a little withered in the fridge. This recipe can easily be modified to use most any fruit or berry. The most important detail to remember here is to be sure and achieve a hard boil, and to not skimp on the lemon juice and sugar. Pectin, the natural component of fruit that makes jams set up, won’t activate without sugar, acid, and heat. While runny preserves are still tasty, it can be a bit disappointing when your end result never solidifies.

In a thick-bottomed saucepan, add peaches, lemon juice and pectin. Bring mixture to a boil, stirring constantly, then add bourbon, sugar and salt. If doing this on a gas stove, the bourbon may ignite – don’t be scared of the flame, it will die down once the alcohol burns off! Bring back to a boil and boil hard for exactly one minute, then remove from heat. Refrigerate at least overnight before eating.

Drink Recipes

Mint Julep 

  • 1 ½ – 2 ounces simple syrup – to taste (recipe below)
  • 4-5 mint leaves
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • Garnish: mint sprig

In a Julep cup or rocks glass, lightly muddle the mint and simple syrup with a muddler or the handle of a wooden spoon. Add the bourbon and pack tightly with crushed ice. Stir until the cup is frosted on the outside. Top with a mint sprig.

Mint simple Syrup:

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup water

Add the sugar and water to a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Let cool and pour into a jar and seal tightly with a lid. Simple syrup will keep, refrigerated, for about one month.

Bourbon & Champagne Cocktail 

  • 1 ounce bourbon
  • 1/2 ounce orange liqueur
  • Several dashes Angostura bitters
  • Several dashes Peychaud’s bitters
  • 2 ounces sparkling wine
  • Garnish: orange twist

Stir bourbon, orange liqueur, and bitters (don’t be shy with the bitters) with ice and strain into a champagne glass. Top with sparkling wine and serve with the orange twist.

Once you have everything ready to go, set it out on a festive table!

The Kentucky Derby Museum has merchandise you can purchase and 20% of sale proceeds will benefit Team Ky and One Louisville. They want to see all your at home celebrations by using #KYDerbyathome

Be sure to dress the part and keep the kids entertained with items around the house.

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