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 recipe for an amazing Derby Day party: Bourbon, tasty treats and a fabulous hat

Derby Day is just a few weeks away, and 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.

>>WATCH: Dayton cocktail masters show how to make perfect Mint Julep

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 

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. 

>> Mint juleps and dashing dachshunds: 6 Dayton-area Kentucky Derby celebrations

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

Not that I care about horse racing by any means, but I’ve decided to throw a party for Derby Day (mostly because last year I spent $60 on a hat, and I wanted to wear it again 😳). And it is the perfect opportunity to hang out with some friends, throw a couple juleps back.

Also, the promise of Spring has been long awaited, and with that, the bounty of beautiful fresh veggies popping up all over. Here is my recipe for the perfect Derby Day Soireecomplete with plenty of bourbon, lots of tasty treats, and yes, a fabulous hat

>> The best bourbon destinations in Dayton

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

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. 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. 

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. 

Your friends will leave your party slightly toasted, full of delicious food, and ready to get their derby on. And by that, I mean checking out the Wiener Dog Race in the Oregon District. I guess you could watch some horses run too, if you’re into that kind of thing.

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

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