The history of the Kentucky Derby can be traced to the 1800s, when the first Kentucky Derby took place in May 1875, attracting thousands of spectators. Today, the “Run for the Roses” attracts over 150,000 people to watch it live at Churchill Downs and 16 million TV viewers worldwide.

While the Kentucky Derby is one of the most memorable and unique moments in sports, it’s as beloved for its pageantry and party as it is for the race itself. The extravagant hats, the elegance and prestige of Churchill Downs, and the bourbon all make for an experience that can be difficult to replicate at home — but that shouldn’t stop you from trying.

Here are a few tips for hosting a Kentucky Derby watch party.


1. Plan Your Party

The Derby goes by fast — really fast. It’s considered “The most exciting two minutes in sports,” after all. But, if you plan your day carefully, you can keep your guests entertained before and after the race.


2. Encourage a High Sense of Style

A huge part of the Derby Day experience is the fashion that comes with it. While not all your friends and family will have an extravagant hat ready to break out for the occasion, it can be fun to encourage your guests to show up (and show out) in their favorite sundresses or seersucker suits. Remember, as the host, you set the tone–so dress to impress!


3. Keep the Drinks Flowing

Of course, bourbon is a must-have at any Kentucky Derby watch party. If you want to be more traditional, consider having some mint julep fixings ready. It’s the official Kentucky Derby cocktail, and Yellowstone Bourbon makes an amazingly perfect, classic mint julep. If you want something a bit more creative, consider this blackberry julep recipe that complements the drink’s refreshing mint with a bright burst of summer berry flavor.


4. Lay Out a Southern Spread

A Kentucky Derby watch party is the perfect opportunity to indulge in a buffet of Southern fare favorites. Think pimento cheese finger sandwiches, Louisville’s famous hot brown sandwich, bourbon balls, or bourbon pecan pie.


5. Pick Your Horse

Whether you place a few good-natured bets or hold some backyard races of your own, a Kentucky Derby watch party with a bit of friendly competition can make it even more fun. Send your winners home with prizes they’re sure to love (like a bottle of Yellowstone Select Bourbon).


Get Your Bar Cart Ready

Whether it’s a Kentucky Derby watch party for one or one hundred, you’ll want to ensure your bar cart is well-stocked and ready for the day. And if you’re headed to Kentucky to soak in the atmosphere, be sure to visit the Limestone Branch Distillery, located about an hour south of Churchill Downs. Grab yourself some Yellowstone, and come celebrate all things bourbon, Kentucky, and horse racing with us.

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Limestone Branch Distillery

1280 Veterans Memorial Hwy.
Lebanon, KY 40033


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