I have celebrated the Kentucky Derby in one way or another for years. Big hats, Mint Juleps, and picking a horse based solely upon its name. This year, the official Kentucky Derby has been postponed until September. Sad, yes, but the party must go on. The Arkansas Derby Post Time for Division 1 is 6:29 p.m. ET, while Division 2 is at 7:43 p.m. ET. I will be foraging for mint that regrew in my herb garden from last summer, digging out leftover whiskey from St. Patrick’s Day, siphoning sugar from the pantry, and mixing up a julep. Host your own Virtual Derby Party at home!
Even though you can *technically* gather with 6 ft. distance between you, I recommend hosting this party virtually from your homes. I upgraded my Zoom account to Pro, which is $14.99 per month and allows up to 100 participants for an unlimited amount of time. You can cancel after the first month if you don’t need it.
Virtual Derby Party Invitations
I mean, you could just text people but why not get everyone in the mood with a formal invite? Paperless Post has a few free options that are derby-themed and some adorable ones that are designed by Rifle Paper Co. that cost a little money. Simply include a link to your Zoom or Google Hangout in the invite, date, time, and attire suggestion (hats show well on camera!) and you are all set!
Evite has some lovely derby-themed invites as well, here are their free selections that I picked out:
Since you will most likely be able to see solely from the waist up, focus your derby fashion on the headwear. For women, if you don’t have a Derby-worthy hat or fascinator, make your own! Grab a beach hat and adorn with fake or paper flowers or even your kids’ My Little Pony figures. Men- bowties and Panama hats with ribbon trim, anchored by a Gingham dress shirt and (linen or lightweight) blazer. On the bottom? Sweatpants. Because…you can.
Classic Derby Cocktails
Yes, a Mint Julep is mandatory. Even if you are not a fan of bourbon, give in for the day and sip this signature cocktail during the race. Here is a recipe for the classic Mint Julep:
Mint Julep Recipe
- 4 mint sprigs
- 2 sugar cubes or 1/2 oz. simple syrup
- 2 1/2 ounces bourbon
- Crushed Ice
Place the mint leaves and sugar or simple syrup onto a julep glass and gently muddle the leaves (don’t mash them, just release the oil). Add bourbon and fill with crushed ice.
No julep glasses? Use a mason jar and tie a cute “Derby Party” tag around the threads with twine. Also, try this twist on the classic julep with pineapple!
The first major racing party I attended was at the Atlanta Steeplechase with my friend Tina. Her friend Summer of Summer Loftin Antiques & Design set up our soiree- she curated quite the decor. We had a vintage rug, chandelier, a floral arrangement, china, and cute chairs.
Although it was the most incredible setup, I still remember tasting Pimento Cheese for the first time more vividly than any other element. They called it ‘menter cheese (a Southern thing?) and even Reese Witherspoon approves. This recipe seems to have the common elements of pimento, cream cheese, and mayo with a little extra tang:
Pimento Cheese Recipe
- 2 cups shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
- 8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- 1/2 cup mayonnaise
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1/4 teaspoon paprika
- 4 ounces diced pimentos, drained
- 1/2 Tablespoon prepared mustard
Mix cheeses together until combined. Add mayonnaise and mix, then add in garlic powder, onion powder, paprika and prepared mustard. Fold in pimentos (see this episode of Schitt$ Creek for instructions on how to fold an ingredient in). Let sit in the refrigerator before serving, ideally a few hours to let the flavors combine.
Picking the horse is an art. Some people study the odds, history, and stats of every horse. Me? I pick them by the name and/or the jockey color. Download the lineups with odds for Division 1 & 2 and pick your winner for your Virtual Derby Party!
No, you can’t take an actual photo together, but why not pose on Zoom and do a screenshot? Print these out and send to your friends via snail mail because believe me, this is a party you will always remember.
Send them as postcards via Postagram so you don’t have to go to the store to get stamps.
Cheers to a Virtual Derby Party and watching your horse win while wearing pajama pants!