At a time that we need entertainment most, get ready for “The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” because the 146th Kentucky Derby will take place on Saturday, September 5th, 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the original race in May was pushed back and went virtual but now with proper safety measures in place, Churchill Downs is ready to Derby.
If you’re like us, and most of the world, you will be watching the Kentucky Derby from the comfort of your home. In true Thirsty Derby fashion, we have teamed up with the best of Kentucky, Woodford Reserve, and checked in with experts around the industry to get tips on how to Derby at home.
Chris Morris, Woodford Reserve Master Distiller
“This is the year to celebrate The Kentucky Derby at home — and that’s easy to do,” Master Distiller Chris Morris said. “Just grab a bottle of Woodford Reserve, the official bourbon of The Kentucky Derby, and make a mint julep or a Woodford Spire. Wear a big hat or colorful bowtie. Decorate with lots of fresh red roses. And make some classic Derby foods like country ham and biscuits or pimento cheese. It’s easy as that.”
Trevor Wheeler, Bartender, Detroit, MI
The Kentucky Derby is a social event and now, perhaps more than ever, who better to socialize with than your loved ones? The classic Mint Julep is expected for any Derby party, but this year I’ll be spicing it up by making a shareable Cherry Mint Julep Punch. I know what you’re thinking and just hold your horses (ha!).
This is a real cocktail, just made on a larger scale. Whenever possible, I prefer to work smarter, not harder. This trick is especially helpful if you’re expecting guests (socially distant, of course). This way, you don’t have to play bartender all night and can still enjoy a delectable drink with each glass. Plus, a great punch set is affordable and elegant. It will definitely add a fancy factor to any Derby party.
Michigan Cherry Mint Julep Punch
- 1 cup Cherry Syrup
- 2 cups Fresh Lime Juice
- 3 cups Woodford Reserve Rye
- 4 cups Sparkling Prosecco
- 24 Mint Leaves
Add mint to punch bowl with cherry syrup. Lightly muddle mint to release flavor. Add Lime and Woodford Reserve Rye. Stir to incorporate flavors. Then add Prosecco. Serve over ice with mint garnish.
Cherry Syrup Recipe: 1 cup sugar, 3/4 cup water, 1 cinnamon stick, 20 cherries pitted and halved. Add all ingredients to a saucepan. Heat to boil. Remove from heat and allow to steep for 15 minutes. Strain through a colander. Store refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.
Cheers to the races and to making more “Where Were You?” memories!
Culinary Chef Tim Chatigny, Boston, MA
I’ve been lucky enough to experience the Kentucky Derby the last two years while cooking food in Louisville with some of the best chefs in the country. My experience at the Derby always starts with a delicious Woodford Reserve Cocktail and it just happens to be my favorite bourbon to cook with!
Woodford Bourbon Spiked Cheese Sauce
- 1 cup each grated smoked cheddar or Gouda or mozzarella
- 1 cup shredded fontina
- 1 cup shredded Gouda
- 3/4 cup milk
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
- 1/2 cup Woodford Reserve
- 1-2 tablespoons flour depending on preference of consistency
Warm milk and cream until bubbles form around the edges. Add Worcestershire sauce mixing until combined. Add cheese and heat until all is melted. Add Woodford Reserve. Add flour to desired consistency. Blend in blender until smooth. Immediately pour onto your favorite Derby-from-home dish!
Berto Horne, Founder & President of TPGent & TPCurators, Atlanta, GA
In 2019, I had the chance to experience the Kentucky Derby with a little twist: I was in New York when Woodford Reserve invited me to the Harlem Derby. Everyone arrived in their Sunday best threads to celebrate the history and love for Kentucky Derby. I even learned quite a bit of history: did you know that in the first race in 1875, thirteen out of fifteen jockeys were Black?
However, this year I will be at home during the Derby and cannot think of a better way to Derby than to bring some of the elements from last year’s experience to my home, celebrating on my rooftop with a limited number of friends, where we can practice social distancing and still watch the race on the screen. I am known to my friends to be a little bit extra, so of course, I am sending handwritten invitations with a request for guests to wear their Southern Sunday Sartorial, since we are in Atlanta.
Each guest will also be asked to bring along items including light bites, Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey, simple syrup and fresh mint leaves since I will be leading a cocktail class before the race. My guests will learn how to make their own Mint Julep cocktail while learning the history of the Black jockeys and trainers of the Kentucky Derby. I will provide the crushed ice and copper mugs and we are off to a great Derby!
David Landgraf, Founder & Chief Experience Officer, @MakeItHappenMgmt, NYC
The rich history of The Kentucky Derby is important to any Derby Party. In fact, the use of red roses was first started by presenting all the ladies attending a high fashion Louisville Derby party in 1883. In 1904, red roses became the official flower of the Kentucky Derby aka “Run for the Roses”, and inspired the wreath of roses that’s presented to the winner today.
In 1925 the Kentucky Derby was designated the “Run for the Roses”, while the official garland was presented to the winner and introduced in 1932 during the 58th running of the Kentucky Derby.
Mint juleps aside, incorporating the rich history of the Kentucky Derby is important to any Derby party. Incorporate some common Derby themes for your bar or buffet to bring the nostalgia inside. Try wheatgrass or astroturf as your base, insert red roses, and take it over the finish line with a small gold version of The Winner’s Trophy (available online).
To learn more about Woodford Reserve, visit www.woodfordreserve.com
Crafted Carefully. Drink Responsibly. Woodford Reserve Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey 45.2% The Woodford Reserve Distillery, Versailles, KY ©2020
To find out more about responsible consumption, visit Responsibility.org and OurThinkingAboutDrinking.com. All other trademarks and trade names are properties of their respective owners.
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