Talk Derby To Me

I have always dreamt of attending The Kentucky Derby! The wine, horses…the hats…it has been on my bucket list for years and every time it rolls around I am either working or not able to make it happen. This year I said, enough! If I can’t get my butt to the Derby…I’m going to bring the Derby to me!

The actual Derby will be here before we know it (May 6th & 7th!)…but since I can’t attend, I’m throwing a “Kentucky Derby” themed bash right here at home…


Let’s get down like they do at the Derby! Here’s how…

All About The Roses!

The first thing that always catches my eye are the gorgeous Red Roses…The Kentucky Derby is also known as the “Run for The Roses” because the winner is lovingly adorned with hundreds of fresh red blooms.

derby red roses and grass

Taking a cue from the classic, I’m using red throughout the party! Starting with my centerpieces. I’m arranging a handful of deep red roses in mint julep cups to scatter along my table. I chose to use silver Mint Julep cups because it’s a fun way to pay homage to the winning trophies! The trainer, the jockey and the breeder of the winning horse all receive silver versions of the large gold trophy!


Silver & Gold Tablescape

You can keep with the theme by mixing gold flatware with silver napkin rings and plate chargers.

Growing up “mixing metals” was a no-no, but I’m all about the mix n’ match now! This table has real vibe with lots of thoughtful symbolism scattered throughout, and that’s what a good “theme” is all about.


It’s casual and inviting, but pretty enough to Instagram! One of my biggest pet peeves is sitting down to a dinner table that is so stiff I feel like I can’t use the napkin or dirty the dishes. You want your guests to feel at home, especially during an afternoon party. So let the happy, springtime tones of this table get everyone in the Derby mood!



Place your Bets!

Whether you are at the actual Kentucky Derby or not, there is one thing every good Kentucky Derby party needs…BETS!

I have to admit, I am not the most seasoned horse better so I turned to something that never let’s me down…Etsy!

place your bets

You can watch lots of tip videos about how to make your own, but I found these cute “Place Your Bets” cards and they did the trick! You can get all your guests involved by  placing them all around the table.

*For adult only parties, keep the stakes high with cash bets. If kids are in attendance, you will be the hostess with the most-est if you happen to have a killer prize for the winner of the “Kid Derby” too!


What Are We Drinking?

You should know that I love a good party, so if my Derby party turns out like a number of my Super Bowl parties have…well, someone will have to remind me that there is an actual horse race going on…and that we didn’t all get together to have a pretty party and drink good wine!


Red Rose Petal Ice Cubes

Freezing some petals in to ice cubes to make red rose ice cubes will give your drink table a total “wow” effect! I love the big bold pop of red, these cubes will have you feeling the Derby spirit in no time!

rose petal wine

These beautiful babies are actually quite simple: Fill each slot of your ice tray halfway and place a petal inside of each slot. Freeze. Then fill the remaining half and freeze again. You want to do a half and half freeze so the petal appears to “float” in the center of each cube. If you don’t the petal will actually float to the top of each cube while its freezing. (Trust me, ok, I learned the hard way)

Let’s talk About Wine!

14 hands

14 Hands Wine is the preferred wine of The Kentucky Derby, so naturally, I chose 14 Hands to be the official wine of my backyard Derby too!

This wine tells a story, too…did you know that “14 hands” is actually a way of measuring horses? And that a group of wild horses who once roamed freely in Eastern Washington and measured 14 hands in height inspired this Washington-based brand? The intensity and free spirit of the wild horses ring true throughout every blend I have tried…and no one loves a backstory more than me! Of course this is our wine of choice for The Derby!

For those full-bodied Red sippers, 14 Hands has some of the most outstanding blends around! (Some of my faves are the special limited release Kentucky Derby blend & their Hot to Trot blend. The fruit flavors in Hot to Trot really shine, with accents of black cherry and plums…

I like to have something for everybody, so I’ll also chill a couple bottles of 14 Hands Sauvignon Blanc and their Hot to Trot White Blend.

Speaking of chill….

white blend

Frozen Green Grapes Double as Chic Ice Cubes

The hot, Kentucky..ahem, California sun can really wreak havoc on a nice chilly glass of white wine. Pop a big bowl of green grapes in the freezer for a couple hours before you are ready to use them and they double as super chic “ice cubes”….that don’t water down your drink!

mint julep frozen grapes

Delicious Bites!

We all ohh & aaah over the fast horses and the big hats at The Derby, but the wine and food is truly a treat! Your “Backyard Derby” should be no exception. I love the idea of “ladylike” snacks but we are celebrating the South, so we gotta do something BIG!

I chose bite sized appetizers and one killer sandwich to feed my hungry guests…

Haylie’s Backyard Derby Menu

Brie, Pear & Walnut Cheese Skewers ~  *This pear and brie pairs beautifully with 14 hands’s Sauvignon Blanc.

Nothing like wine & cheese! The cheese plate always looks stellar at the beginning of every party…but towards the end, it tends to look a bit picked over and torn apart. These “cheese plate on a stick” skewers solve all your cheese plate problems by offering people a simple way to pick up all the flavors they love in one bite!

brie skewer

Horseradish Deviled Eggs

Deviled eggs always seem to deserve their spot on the table at a good ol’ fashioned Southern gathering. They have truly come a long way. Now you can find deviled eggs in just about every flavor profile you can dream up! I went with horseradish, lots of pun intended!

deviled eggs

Cucumber, Radish & Herb Tea Sandwiches

Nothing pairs with a ladylike afternoon party and big hats quite like cucumber tea sandwiches. I dressed these up a bit by layering most of the cucumber on the top of the sandwich for a pretty striped effect. Radish, lemon zest and fresh herbs pack lots of punch.

tea sandwich

Salmon Salad Toasts * The 14 Hands Pinot Gris would be a nice pairing here.

Changing up the typical chicken salad sandwich is fun with these “open face” salmon toasts. Fresh dill and whole grain mustard add zest and the lemon lifts your palette. Plus, they bring in the color of your table runner!

salmon toast

California” Kentucky Hot Brown

*I suggest a bold Red Blend like the new 14 Hands Stampede Red Blend, to wash down your hot brown!

In all of my Kentucky Derby research Hot Brown’s came up again and again! There will lots of variations of this dish so I figured I would do a “Haylie” version and serve it up Cali style with some fresh avocado on a crusty baguette. Don’t worry, I still doused this baby in lots of cheesy sauce!

hot brown

There you have it…a big, fun collection of some of my favorite ways to celebrate the Kentucky Derby in style!

hot brown

Of course all these beautiful blooms, shimmering goblets filled with your favorite wine and a table filled with all kinds of delicious treats don’t mean anything without your family and friends…so mark your calendar, send out the invites and get your party planned…

The Derby is almost here!

xoxo Haylie


Photos courtesy of Haylie Duff & Eddie de la Rosa.

This post sponsored by 14 Hands Winery.