The recipe for an amazing Derby Day at home: Bourbon, tasty treats and a fabulous hat

The signature drink of The Kentucky Derby is the Mint Julep. The Mint Julep is an extremely strong bourbon drink, with minimal ingredients. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / TESS VELLA-COLLETTE
The signature drink of The Kentucky Derby is the Mint Julep. The Mint Julep is an extremely strong bourbon drink, with minimal ingredients. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / TESS VELLA-COLLETTE

Derby Day is happening over Labor Day weekend this year, and offers the perfect reason to celebrate at home.

Even though I’m a “Yankee” through and through, if you live as close as we do in Dayton to Kentucky, you better get your derby hat ready.

Here is my recipe for the perfect Derby Day Soiree, complete with plenty of bourbon, lots of tasty treats, and yes, a fabulous hat.

ExploreDayton's best destinations for bourbon

The drink

The signature drink of The Kentucky Derby is the Mint Julep. The Mint Julep is an extremely strong drink, with minimal ingredients.

  • 2 oz. Bourbon (Yes, it has to be bourbon)
  • 1 oz. simple syrup
  • 2 oz. crushed ice
  • Mint sprigs for garnish
The signature drink of The Kentucky Derby is the Mint Julep. The Mint Julep is an extremely strong bourbon drink, with minimal ingredients. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / TESS VELLA-COLLETTE
The signature drink of The Kentucky Derby is the Mint Julep. The Mint Julep is an extremely strong bourbon drink, with minimal ingredients. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / TESS VELLA-COLLETTE

Seriously, that’s it. It’s basically like a bourbon slushy. There are two components that make this drink so awesome.

Number one is the crushed ice. That's absolutely key for the perfect Julep. It keeps you cool on a hot spring or summer day, but more importantly, crushing ice is the MOST SATISFYING THING EVER.

Experiencing a little pent up aggression? Smack a Lewis Bag of ice with a big mallet and your stress will melt away, the booze helps too.

The other component that makes a mint julep especially enjoyable is the sterling silver julep cup. Much like a Moscow mule mug, the ice stays nice and cold for longer, and basically you just look really cool drinking out of it. Many cups come with a spoon/straw hybrid just like a slushie at the 7/11 but much classier, and for adults.

ExploreWATCH: Two of Dayton’s top bartenders show you how to make mint juleps
Try some nice bites sure to satisfy all of your party guests. Stuffed mushrooms are always a crowd pleaser and they are incredibly easy to make. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / TESS VELLA-COLLETTE
Try some nice bites sure to satisfy all of your party guests. Stuffed mushrooms are always a crowd pleaser and they are incredibly easy to make. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / TESS VELLA-COLLETTE

The food

You’ve got the drink recipe down...but for food, try some nice bites sure to satisfy all of your party guests. Stuffed mushrooms are always a crowd-pleaser. And they are incredibly easy to make. Let some cream cheese get to room temperature, a dollop of ricotta, a pinch of chives, and a healthy dose of fresh parsley. Mix them together, and spoon them into some fresh white mushroom tops. Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for 15 minutes, they will be ooey-gooey, and if you top them with a drizzle of balsamic vinegar, they will be irresistible to all of your party pals.

Another easy to please and fool proof dish which highlights spring veggies in a light and bright way: ricotta and asparagus bruschetta. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / TESS VELLA-COLLETTE
Another easy to please and fool proof dish which highlights spring veggies in a light and bright way: ricotta and asparagus bruschetta. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / TESS VELLA-COLLETTE

Another easy to please and foolproof dish that highlights spring veggies in a light and bright way: ricotta and asparagus bruschetta. Slice a few pieces of French baguette, drizzle with olive oil and toast in the oven for 7 minutes. Spread that extra ricotta cheese across the bread, top with roasted asparagus, and a pinch of sea salt. Right before your guests arrive, zest lemon on top, and again, a glug of balsamic. They will pop on a serving plate, and your guests will gobble them up.

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Take your favorite brownie, or chocolate cake recipe and top it with bourbon whipped cream. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / TESS VELLA-COLLETTE
Take your favorite brownie, or chocolate cake recipe and top it with bourbon whipped cream. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / TESS VELLA-COLLETTE

And of course, you can't skip dessert. Take your favorite brownie, or chocolate cake recipe and top it with bourbon whipped cream. Yep, you heard me, boozy whipped cream. All of the world's problems could be solved if people just added liquor to their dessert topping.

You heard it here first, people. In a mixing bowl, add heavy whipping cream, a pinch of sugar, a teaspoon of vanilla and a glug of that bourbon you've got on hand. Whisk until you've reached stiff peaks and spoon on top of your chocolatey confection.

After that, I guess you could watch some horses run, too, if you’re into that kind of thing.

HOW TO WATCH: The stands at Churchill Downs will be empty on Saturday, Sept. 5, but the 2020 Kentucky Derby will air on NBC at 3 p.m.

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It's not Derby Day if you aren't wearing a fabulous hat. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / TESS VELLA-COLLETTE
It's not Derby Day if you aren't wearing a fabulous hat. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO / TESS VELLA-COLLETTE