top of page

Classic Delights for Derby Day Celebrations

This article first appeared in the April/May 2023 issue of eat. drink. MISSISSIPPI

Words and Images by Lisa LaFontaine Bynum

You don’t have to hail from the Bluegrass State to know about the infamous annual horse race known as the Kentucky Derby. Dubbed the “greatest two minutes in sports” – a nod to the approximate amount of time it takes for the horses to complete their gallop around the track – the Kentucky Derby is known for so much more than just horses. Ostentatious ladies’ hats and sundresses, seersucker suits for men, signature cocktails and delicious food.

This year, place your bets on these Kentucky Derby themed recipes.

Old Fashioned Mint Julep Cocktail Ingredients:

  • 8 mint leaves

  • 1/4 oz. simple syrup

  • 2 1/2 oz. bourbon

  • Bitters (optional)


  1. In a Julep cup or rocks glass, lightly muddle the mint leaves.

  2. Add the bourbon and simple syrup, then pack the glass tightly with crushed ice.

  3. Stir until the cup is frosted on the outside.

  4. Top with more crushed ice to form an ice dome, and garnish with a mint sprig and a few drops of bitters (optional).

Apricot And Bourbon Glazed Meatballs

Serves 4

Begin this delicious, classic dish by making the Apricot Bourbon Glaze:

  • 2 Tablespoons unsalted butter

  • ½ cup diced yellow onion

  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic

  • 1 cup apricot preserves

  • 1 cup chili sauce

  • ½ cup bourbon

  • ⅓ cup apple cider vinegar

  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar

  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce

  • 2 Tablespoons spicy brown mustard

For the glaze:

  1. Melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat.

  2. Add the onion and sauté until the onion is tender and translucent, about five minutes.

  3. Add the garlic and sauté for an additional 30 seconds.

  4. Combine the remaining sauce ingredients. Add to the pan and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, for 20 minutes. Remove the pan from heat and set aside. The sauce will thicken as it cools.

Next, make the meatballs:

  • 2 lbs. ground chicken sausage