Rain or shine, cold or blazing hot, it’s easy to host a casual Derby party at home for everyone. After all, getting a babysitter for Derby is harder than hitting an Exacta!
And if you’re planning on staying home with your kids anyway, have them invite all their friends! The parents will be so shocked they’ll offer to keep your kids for your anniversary, a long weekend, whatever you want. How do I know this? Because I used to do it for both my sons for New Year’s Eve. The kids had a blast, and I never go out on New Year’s Eve, anyway. Even if I’m not drinking that doesn’t protect me from all the other idiots on the road.
Whether you are planning a party for families or only for kids beverages are important. Recipes for the Oaks Lily, the Mint Julep, and the new-this-year Woodford Reserve Spires are all available on KentuckyDerby.com.
I’ll be honest – if I’m pouring simple syrup, cranberry juice, or lemonade over something I’m not using top-shelf alcohol. Straight? Sure. But for party mixes like these I’d save the budget for food and drop it a couple of rungs on on the snooty liquor scale. Anyone who’s displeased is officially elected bartender – they can run to the liquor and make their own and everyone else’s drinks. #mypartymyrules
Here are the kid-friendly versions (or the versions you give your guests who are getting too tipsy):
Lily: Cranberry juice, a splash or orange juice, and a splash or orange juice over ice. Garnish with a half-strawberry unless your kids like blackberries.
Julep: Green Kool-aid or Crystal Light (Bug Juice for you Scout Parents out there) over ice with a sprig of mint. They can eat it, rub it on their teeth to gross everyone out, throw it at each other, whatever. It cleans up easy. If you’re lucky the dog will eat it and have very fresh breath!
Spires: Lemonade over ice with a splash of cranberry juice for color. Garnish with a tiny wedge of lemon.
Nab a couple of “too cool for this party” teens and put them to work making the mocktails. Maybe show them a few scenes from “Cocktail” first (while you’re transferring everything into plastic bottles). They’ll be bragging about their bar-tending skills for a decade.
You’ve probably seen my Horse Bites series with Benedictine, Thurby Pie, Hot Brown, and Country Ham. But here’s another option: the YUMMY Mint Julep! This is one even the adults will want to try. Again, sorry for no pics. I’ll insert them if/when my docs clear me to be a semi-normal human again.
But it’s super-easy. Peel a kiwi (Makea shallow cut around the circumference and use a spoon – trust me on this one!) Then slice it. Add half a strawberry (cut side down), a blueberry, and just a leaf of mint. Now make just a cup of simple syrup (sugar or Splenda dissolved in hot water). Once it cools, pour a tiny bit on every stack. Yes, sorry, this once takes toothpicks, too. None of these fruits will brown or shrivel, so they can be done well ahead of time. If you want an adult version put bourbon in the simple syrup. But in that case make sure there’s an Adult section of the Buffet Table and an Under-21 section!
For the Thurby Pie just don’t use Bourbon in the whipped cream, and perhaps not nuts in their pie (the bourbon cooks out of the pie.) The Hot Brown will be a hit – maybe use ramekins instead of shot glasses and put two sandwich quarters in each. Kids love to dip! Benedictine and Country Ham Horse Bites are fine as they are – maybe you can get some veggies into them along the way.
Posting this after twelve-noon EST since I don’t want to encourage day-drinking, even though my Neurologist says I should give it a try. Yes, seriously! And no, I’m not giving out his name. If I do I’ll have to wait two years for my next appointment. And I’m rather fond of the margarita machine in the waiting room. #justkiddingitsinthelobby