Entertaining

Kentucky Derby Party: Mint Julep Bar

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The races are coming! It’s time to gear up for the Kentucky Derby horse race with a little celebration. The most iconic association with the famous race is none other than the mint julep. The Derby’s signature cocktail is a delicious blend of simple syrup, bourbon, and fresh mint. To mark the occasion, I’ve styled up a mint julep bar (tea car style) to inspire you to set up your own festive cocktail station for the Kentucky Derby!
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Setting up a mint julep bar is actually quite easy! I’m breaking down the steps and tips for recreating the look in the bullets below. Take a look at the pictures, and get inspired to style your own!

  • To move along with the party, I chose to style my mint julep bar on a vintage tea cart. You can use any bar cart or a small side table to recreate the bar effect.
  • The red rose is the official flower of the Kentucky Derby, so I used it as an anchor for my design. Displayed in over-sized julep glasses and dainty silver vases, the red roses added a bold and vibrant color! I cut faux grass to fit the top of my tea cart.
  • Bourbon is the star of the show. Display at least three varieties of the liquor, and I made sure to include Woodford Reserve (the official bourbon of the derby).
  • Next up is simple syrup, the sweetener of the classic mint julep. Use a large over-sized carafe or beverage dispenser for simple syrup. You can keep it plain or infuse it with flavors like lemon or lime.
  • Finally, display fresh fruits in small crystal bowls or other dainty vessels. I chose sliced citruses like oranges, lemons, and limes as well as strawberries, blueberries, and raspberries.
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  • Mint is a must! I tucked freshly picked mint down in the rose bouquets, all my glasses, and in a separate vase for muddling in the julep cups.
  • Encourage your guests to mix and match the flavors to create their own signature mint julep flavor. A few of my favorites include a raspberry julep, blueberry lime julep, and an orange mint julep.
  • Provide red and white striped straws or other drink stirrers to allow guests to properly mix up their cocktails and sip in style! Be sure to have plenty of ice on hand! An ice bucket tucked under the bar cart provides easy access.
  • Visit your craft store for toy horses and give them a quick spray in black or gold for a fitting decoration among your mint julep ingredients.
  • When serving cocktails, always be sure to have a few nibbles on hand from mini sandwiches, appetizers, treats, etc. as well as water too!

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I hope you’re inspired for the big race! The race might only last a couple of minutes, but your guests will enjoy mixing their own mint juleps the whole party long! Cheers!

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Courtney Whitmore is a published cookbook author, entertaining and food stylist, and blogger at Pizzazzerie.com where she shares the art of presenting classic foods with a modern twist and setting a tablescape with lots of pizzazz. She attended Vanderbilt University earning both a bachelors in Communications + masters in Organizational Leadership. Her expertise has been seen in Better Homes & Gardens, HGTV.com, Ladies Home Journal, AOL’s DIY Life, Access Hollywood, and MarthaStewart.com.

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