Put a (Big, Giant) Hat on It: The Kentucky Derby

All photos by Joanie Simon of Restaurant Live AZ

All photos by Joanie Simon of Restaurant Live AZ

Every spring, I look forward to 2 things: the Arizona BBQ Festival, and checking out a fabulous Kentucky Derby party in town with my favorite foodie sidekick, Joanie Simon of Restaurant Live AZ! The parties have gotten bigger & better, with Derby Day fashion in full effect!

A Fascinator & a Julep!

A Fascinator & a Julep!

I’ll be honest with you–I can’t deal with the big hats. They look great, but I can’t hear anything, or see anything, and the more mint juleps I drin… er, enjoy, the less patient I am about wearing a gigantic hat that is the equivalent of a sensory-deprivation chamber. So, I’ve chosen to go the route of the fascinator–not because they’re fascinating, necessarily, but I can see & hear everything, and who doesn’t like to wear feathers & jewels in their hair?

This year, my fascinator & my love of bourbon are taking me to… well, where else? Bourbon Steak at the Fairmont Princess in north Scottsdale. Watch the 141st annual Run for the Roses both indoors and out. while enjoying a Southern-style lunch featuring Kentucky Derby hot browns, shrimp and grits arancini, buttermilk oyster sliders and more. Don’t worry–there’s bourbon, too. Classic mint juleps and bourbon tastings, as well as live music, a photo booth, lawn games, and a chance to compete for prizes in their Southern Style contest! The fun starts at 1pm, and costs $85 per person, which includes complimentary valet parking, commemorative keepsake Kentucky Derby glass, and three complimentary cocktails. Make a reservation by calling 480.585.2694.

There are plenty of other great events happening for the Derby:

  • Derby Day at The Phoenician Resort ($65 per person);
  • Kelly’s at Southbridge will be offering $10 glasses of Perrier-Jouet Rose & $8 Maker’s Mark mint juleps, as well as a Best Dressed & Best Hat contest;
  • Let’s not forget the classic,Turf Paradise, in north Phoenix! Enjoy live music, horse races, buffets, & betting, starting at 7:30 a.m., and grandstand admission is only $5!

Mint Juleps - photo courtesy of Joanie Simon of Restaurant Live AZ.

Mint Juleps

Don’t feel like venturing out for the races because that requires putting on pants & interacting with other humans? Don’t worry, buttercup, I have you covered! Well, more accurately, Micah Olson of Bar Crudo has you covered. Try out his recipe for a classic Mint Julep–you don’t have to put your pinky up or anything, I promise.

Mint Julep
7 mint leaves
2.5 oz Bulleit Bourbon
0.5 oz Simple Syrup
Crushed Ice

Directions: Combine mint and simple syrup in bottom of silver julep cup (or highball glass), lightly muddle the mint.  Now add the bourbon and fill with cup with crushed ice, making sure to pour off the excess water.  Garnish with a bunch of mint–make sure it is impossible to drink without burying your nose in mint!

Have a fashionable, boozy, & fun Kentucky Derby, peeps–but PLEASE be safe. Designate a driver, call a cab, get a Lyft, or Uber your sweet self home! Please, booze responsibly!


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