“The Run for the Roses”, “The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports”, “The First Weekend of May”. Whatever you like to call it, The Kentucky Derby holds a very special place in this Kentucky girl’s heart!
It’s really a compilation of all my favorite things: horses, dresses, bourbon, and damn good party.
Whether you’re hosting a party this year or attending a watch party, I have the perfect, easy cocktail hack that will please everyone’s tastes!
Spoiler alert: you don’t have to like bourbon…although I wish you would.
If you saw my cocktail post over the holidays, you know I’m a big fan making a homemade, simple syrup that serves many different purposes!
For Derby Day, I whipped up this Mint & Honey Simple Syrup
This syrup takes all of ten minutes to make, and it will make cocktail preparation at the party fun and easy. It could also be a great hostess gift (you could put it in a cute bottle and attach a mint julep recipe card). You could also stir it into hot or cold tea, use it to make lemonade, over yogurt, serve on a cheese board, the list goes on!
Mint & Honey Simple Syrup
-a generous 1/3 cup of local honey
-one cup of torn mint leaves
-one cup water
Just throw those three ingredients into a small pot together on the stove over medium heat. Stir until the honey completely dissolves, and the mint becomes fragrant (about 5-7 minutes). Then turn off the heat, and let the syrup cool completely (about 30 minutes). Then, just pour syrup through a strainer and into a sealable container (discard mint). Store in the fridge for up to two weeks.
*if you don’t have any honey, you could sub with one cup of plain ole’ sugar!
Now that you’ve made the syrup, let me give you three Derby Day cocktails to please everyone at your party! These are three simple recipes that I made up, but let your creativity fly! This syrup is such a versatile sweetener, so have fun with it.
(Tip: After my syrup was completely cooled, I carefully poured it into this antique bottle that I normally use for decor. When serving something like this syrup at a party, look around your house for fun pieces to serve out of! It adds a special touch…and it’s free!)
A Proper Mint Julep
-2 ounces bourbon
-1 scant ounce mint & honey syrup
-crushed ice (enough to fill your glass)
-fresh mint to garnish
Mix together bourbon, syrup, and top with ice. Give a good stir to water down. Add a splash of water or club soda if that’s your style!
Lovely Mint Lemonade
-1 ounce vodka (could omit to make a mocktail)
-1 ounce mint & honey syrup
-1 ounce fresh squeezed lemon juice
Mix together vodka, syrup, and lemon juice. Pour of ice and top with sparkling water. Garnish with fresh mint and a lemon slice!
Winner’s Circle Sparkler
-1/2 ounce mint & honey syrup
-champagne, prosecco or cava
Just drizzle the syrup into a flute or coupé, and top with bubbles! I garnished with an edible flower (I found them in the produce section at Whole Foods).
Now, let’s talk about this perfect Derby dress I found at one of my favorite Nashville boutiques, Duet.I loved the idea of wearing blue and white to celebrate my beloved Bluegrass State. This Nicole Miller dress is not available anywhere online, but if you want to get your hands on it- have no fear! Blake, the owner, and the awesome team at Duet will ship it right to you if you give them a call. They are such a helpful and sweet bunch there!
Of course, every derby look needs a hat. I love that this brand that I discovered while shopping at Duet. It’s called Lola Hats, and the company has a really neat story. I like this more structured, straw style because it can be versatile beyond just derby! I would be a great beach hat or fun to style with resort-wear.
What are your plans for Derby this year? Let me know what you’ll be sipping on while watching the race!