Kentucky Derby at Home: The Ultimate Derby Day Party Spread


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Today’s post is sponsored by Woodford Reserve. As always, all thoughts are my own. Thanks so much for supporting the brands that make Diary of a Debutante possible!

Kentucky Derby party ideas by southern entertaining blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a Debutante

It’s no secret that Derby Day is one of my favorite holidays. I love the food, the drinks, the fancy hats– everything. The Kentucky Derby is actually being held on May 1st this year, too, so I also love that I get to celebrate the Derby and ring in the month of May with an intimate group of our closest friends and family at home. To help make this year’s Kentucky Derby Day celebration extra memorable this year, I partnered with Woodford Reserve to create the ultimate at-home Derby Day party spread, and I’m sharing all the details in today’s post. Keep reading for the recipe for their signature Kentucky Derby cocktail, plus a full menu of Kentucky Derby party food and a handful of fun and easy decoration ideas!

Kentucky Derby party food prepared by southern entertaining blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a DebutanteWoodford Reserve Kentucky Derby bottle styled as the centerpiece in blogger Stephanie Ziajka's Derby Day tablescape on Diary of a Debutante

Woodford Spire Cocktail Recipe

Blogger Stephanie Ziajka shows how to make a Woodford Spire whiskey cocktail with Woodford Reserve bourbon whiskey on Diary of a Debutante

First up– drinks! I mean, you can’t properly celebrate the Derby at home without a good cocktail. This year I decided to serve Woodford Reserve’s signature Kentucky Derby cocktail, the Woodford Spire. It’s super refreshing and a fun deviation from traditional mint juleps. The Woodford Spire can also be batched or single-serve, which is helpful if you want to prep your drinks beforehand. Here’s everything you need to make one (multiple by six to make a pitcher’s worth). Plus, you can have a bottle of Woodford Reserve delivered to your doorstep using Drizly. Take $5 off your first purchase wherever Drizly is available using code WRDERBY!

1.5oz Woodford Reserve Bourbon Whiskey
2oz Lemonade
1oz Cranberry Juice
Lemon Twist (for garnish)

To make a Woodford Spire, combine the bourbon, lemonade, and cranberry juice in a mixing glass and stir. Pour over ice. Garnish with a lemon twist– and enjoy!

A few tips– I cheat and use a channel knife to get perfect lemon peel garnishes every time! I also love using Woodford Reserve’s copper Derby cups instead of traditional silver julep cups. They’re just so fun and unique!

Also, how fun is this limited-edition Kentucky Derby bottle of Woodford Reserve? It’s a couple of years old, and I’ve been waiting for a good excuse to open it. Finally found the perfect occasion!

Keep an eye out for this year’s limited-edition Kentucky Derby bottle, too. It looks similar but says Derby 147 and has a yellow seal. You can see it here.

Woodford Reserve Special Edition Kentucky Derby bottle on Diary of a DebutanteSouthern blogger Stephanie Ziajka shares her best ky derby party ideas on Diary of a DebutanteSouthern blogger Stephanie Ziajka shares her favorite Kentucky Derby cocktail made with Woodford Reserve bourbon whiskey on Diary of a DebutanteBlogger Stephanie Ziajka pours Woodford Reserve Special Edition Kentucky Derby bourbon whiskey into a copper julep cup on Diary of a Debutante

Print

Woodford Spire

Made with sweet lemonade and tangy cranberry juice, this delicious bourbon cocktail is the signature drink of the Kentucky Derby!

  • Author: Stephanie Ziajka
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 cocktail 1x

Ingredients

Scale

1.5oz Woodford Reserve Bourbon Whiskey
2oz Lemonade
1oz Cranberry Juice
Lemon Twist (for garnish)

Instructions

Combine the Bourbon, lemonade, and cranberry juice in a mixing glass and stir. Pour over ice. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Notes

Use a channel knife to get perfect lemon peel garnishes every time!

Recipe Card powered byTasty Recipes

Kentucky Derby Party Menu

Southern blogger Stephanie Ziajka shares Kentucky Derby food ideas on Diary of a Debutante

Next up– food! In my mind, the Kentucky Derby is a celebration of southern tradition. So, I like to incorporate all the classic southern flavors (pimento, bourbon, pecans, sweet corn, etc) into my menu. I also like to serve small snacks and Kentucky Derby appetizers instead of a full meal, just so there’s something for everyone. Here’s what was on this year’s Derby Day menu–

  • Pimento cheese deviled eggs– If you love deviled eggs and pimento cheese, these pimento cheese deviled eggs are to die for. They’re super easy to make, too!
  • Baked pimento cheese dip– Trust me when I say that the only thing better than pimento cheese dip is warm pimento cheese dip. It’s so good and is guaranteed to be a crowd-pleaser! I serve mine with crackers, but it also goes great with veggies and crostinis. 
  • Benedictine spread– Benedictine dip is a Derby Day must-have. It’s made with cucumber, cream cheese, and dill, and it can be served with veggies, chips, or crackers. I’ve also spread it on thin white bread to make tea sandwiches, and they’re delicious!
  • Minty fruit salad– This delicious minty fruit salad is made with about five pounds of chopped stone fruit (peaches, nectarines, plums, mangos, etc), orange juice, honey, and mint. 
  • Bourbon pulled pork sliders– The bourbon really sets these pulled pork sliders apart from traditional sliders. I served mine with brioche slider buns and some cute little gold horseshoe cocktail picks!
  • Mini cornbread muffins– Kyle’s mom makes the absolute best cornbread, and it’s so simple. She takes a box of cornbread mix and combines it with a can of creamed corn. That’s all– no eggs or milk. To make them bite-sized, I greased up a mini cupcake tin and filled each cavity about 2/3rds of the way full.
  • Mini bourbon pecan pies– These mini bourbon pecan pies are as tasty as they are cute! Serve them warm and/or with ice cream!

Kentucky Derby food and drink ideas by southern blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a DebutanteMini cornbread muffins made by southern blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a DebutanteRed rose Kentucky Derby party centerpiece designed by southern blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a DebutantePimento cheese deviled eggs recipe by southern blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a Debutante

As you can see, Nala was literally praying that I’d drop a slider. We definitely don’t reward begging, but it can be so hard to say no to that face!

Kentucky Derby menu ideas from southern blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a DebutanteBourbon pulled pork sliders served with gold horseshoe cocktail picks by southern blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a Debutante

I didn’t put any out on the table, but y’all… this Benedictine dip is AMAZING with chips! The creamy dill flavor just compliments their saltiness so wonderfully.

Southern blogger Stephanie Ziajka shares one of the classic Kentucky Derby recipes appetizers on Diary of a DebutanteEasy Kentucky Derby benedictine dip and veggies made by southern blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a Debutante

Also, as much as I love mini pecan pies (especially mini bourbon pecan pies), I know they’re not for everyone. If you or your guests prefer fruitier pies, these mini peach pies are pretty perfect, too!

Southern blogger Stephanie Ziajka shares the best bourbon mini pecan pie recipe on Diary of a Debutante

Kentucky Derby Decoration Ideas

Southern entertaining blogger Stephanie Ziajka shares Kentucky Derby decoration ideas on Diary of a Debutante

Last up– decor! When I think of Kentucky Derby decorations, I think red, gold, and kelly green. To tie in all three, I decided to create two red rose arrangements using gold trophy-like vases and some red roses, baby’s breath, and greenery (primarily lemon leaves and Ruscus). To incorporate even more color, I ordered a kelly green plaid table runner and some matching napkins. I also used a variety of herbs (mint, parsley, etc) and scallions to add fresh pops to green to all the Kentucky Derby appetizers.

Just a note— of course, you can totally get creative and add in pinks and pastels to your tablescape. I subbed out pink for red in last year’s Derby Day tablescape, and it looked pretty cute!

Red rose Kentucky Derby table decorations designed by blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a DebutanteSouthern blogger Stephanie Ziajka shares Kentucky Derby ideas for hosting the perfect party on Diary of a Debutante

Probably my favorite thing about this Kentucky Derby tablescape, though, is the “main” centerpiece. I propped a special edition bottle of Woodford Reserve up on a small white crate, along with the Woodford Spire mixers, to create a practical, whiskey-themed focal point. I wasn’t sure how it’d turn out, but I love it!

Kentucky Derby party decorations designed by southern blogger Stephanie Ziajka on Diary of a Debutante

Thanks so much for reading, y’all! As always, please let me know if you have questions about any of the recipes or Kentucky Derby party ideas I featured in today’s post. I do this for a living, and I’m happy to help! Also, who’s going to be watching the race on May 1st?!

PS- For more Kentucky Derby party ideas, check out how I styled my Derby Day bar cart! You’ll also love these adorable little DIY mint julep kits. They’re super easy to put together and make the perfect party favors!

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4 thoughts on “Kentucky Derby at Home: The Ultimate Derby Day Party Spread

  1. Mark Edwards

    Clicked on “Get The Recipe” for BOURBON PULLED PORK SLIDERS & PIMENTO CHEESE DIP.
    There was no recipe. Waste of time.

    Reply

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