We’re ready for the Kentucky Derby, y’all! That means it’s time to pull together our list of all the Derby party essentials and where to find them. Whether hosting your own celebration of our city’s signature event or planning to be the perfectly thoughtful guest, let this checklist be your guide to finding the best grab-and-go options in Louisville. Happy Derby, everyone!
1. Benedictine & Pimento Cheese
Pick up a Louisville favorite and a Southern classic for easy Derby crowd-pleasers. Benedictine – a cream cheese and cucumber spread with just a touch of onion – was invented in Louisville at the turn of the 20th-century by a local caterer, Jennie Benedict. We love it spread thick on the simplest of white bread and cut into pretty triangles. Or on crackers. Or with bacon. And when served side-by-side with well-made pimento cheese, its delightful Southern cousin, this pair will keep guests happy from party start to finish line.
Where to buy
You can find benedictine and pimento cheese almost anywhere prepared food is sold in Louisville, but here are our favorite local spots that make and stock some of the most delicious spreads in town:
2. Country Ham & Local Bread
Country ham and biscuits are a Southern tradition and a Derby party staple. While we think the best biscuits are the ones made by hand (and it’s simple – here’s one of our favorite biscuit recipes for proof), we know that finding time to whip them up during Derby week can be challenging. And limiting country ham to biscuits alone seems wrongheaded to us since there is so much good bread available in Louisville, so we’re all for country ham on buns or country ham with sliced baguettes, as long as they’re locally made and delicious!
Where to buy
We’re big fans of these local butchers and bakeries, which are a balance of being both new on the scene and with years of Louisville history:
Country Ham (and other deli items)
Red Hog Artisan Butcher Shop, 2622 Frankfort Ave., Louisville, KY 40206 • (502) 384-0795
Morris’ Deli, 2228 Taylorsville Road, Louisville, Kentucky 40205 • (502) 458-1668
Kingsley’s Meats, 2701 Taylorsville Road, Louisville, KY 40205 • (502) 459-7585
Frank’s Meats and Produce, 3342 Preston Hwy., Louisville, KY 40213 • (502) 363-3989
Locally Made Bread
Plehn’s Bakery, 3940 Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40207 • (502) 896-4438
Wiltshire Bakery and Café, 901 Barret Ave. Louisville, KY 40204 • (502) 581-8561
Blue Dog Bakery and Café, 2868 Frankfort Ave., Louisville, KY 40206 • (502) 899-9800; Available in locations throughout Louisville
3. Mint Julep Fixings
Mint juleps are synonymous with the Kentucky Derby, but what most Kentuckians will tell you is that a julep is only good when the ingredients are the best. That means pay attention to the ice, make your own simple syrup, stock up on fresh mint, and buy bourbon that you would pour on its own. Here’s our mint julep recipe in case you need a refresher. Presentation is also incredibly important, so stock up on julep cups if you’re feeling fancy. Silver is traditional, but we think you can stay stylish and authentic with other fun options, like mint julep cups handmade by local artisans at Louisville Stoneware & Co.
Where to buy
You’ll find mint almost everywhere during Kentucky Derby season, but here’s where we suggest picking up the best bourbon for you and your guests to enjoy, especially if you have questions about what kind to buy:
Westport Whiskey & Wine, 1115 Herr Lane, #140, Louisville, KY 40222 • (502) 708-1313
Old Town Liquors, 1529 Bardstown Road, Louisville, Kentucky • (502) 451-8591
The Wine Rack, 2632 Frankfort Ave., Louisville, KY 40206 • (502) 721-9148
And find unique mint julep cups at some of our favorite Louisville shops:
Etcetera, 4913 Brownsboro Road, Louisville, KY 40222 • (502) 425-9277
Vintage Style and Designs, 2307 Taylorsville Road, Louisville, KY 40205 • (502) 749-9783
Celebrations, 3632 Brownsboro Road Louisville, KY 40207 • (502) 894-9590
Louisville Stoneware & Co., 731 Brent St., Louisville, KY 40204 • (502) 582-1900
4. Fresh Fruit Plates & Vegetable Trays
Whether you make your own or prefer to let the experts slice, dice and arrange for your Derby party this year, the key to a fruit plate or vegetable tray is the quality of the produce. We suggest buying in season and keeping it simple! Here’s where we suggest picking up the best fruit and veggies in Louisville:
Where to buy
Paul’s, 3922 Chenoweth Square, Louisville, KY 40207; 3704 Taylorsville Road, Louisville, KY 40220; 4946 Brownsboro Road, Louisville, KY 40222; 12119 Shelbyville Road, Louisville, KY 40243 • Check their website for phone numbers by location.
Louisville Farmers Markets, multiple locations
Field Day Farm CSA, And find out more about why you should join a CSA here.
5. Roses & Spring Blooms
No Kentucky Derby party is complete without a bouquet of flowers that includes at least a few roses. Mix with hydrangeas, late lilacs from the garden, irises, tulips or, of course, lilies to commemorate Louisville’s other favorite race, the Kentucky Oaks. Fresh flowers abound throughout the city, but we think some of the most beautiful in Louisville can be found at these StyleBlueprint favorites. Plus, these local shops have friendly experts on-hand to help you create the perfect hostess gift or tabletop arrangement.
Where to buy
Blooms by Essential Details, 111 W Main St., Ste. A, La Grange, KY 40031 • (502) 222-1626
Mahonia, 806 E. Market St., Louisville, KY 40206 • (502) 785-4534
Boston’s Floral Couture, 735 E. Broadway, Louisville, KY 40202 • (502) 618-2415
Nanz & Kraft Florists, 141 Breckenridge Lane, Louisville, KY 40207, or 415-A Lime Kiln Lane, Louisville, KY 40222 • (502) 897-6551
Now check these items off your list and enjoy all those Derby festivities! It really is the best time of year to be in Louisville, and we’re always happy to be your local guide. Have a great Kentucky Derby!
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