Derby day is upon us. Are you ready?
Among the various traditions associated with the Kentucky Derby, dating back to 1875, wearing an outrageous hat is perhaps the most visible. Hats for ladies in the 1870s were considered an essential accessory for any out-door event. It would have been scandalous for a lady to appear without one. Wide-brimmed hats also provided sun protection for Victorian ladies. They went to great lengths to remain the fairest of them all. Sun-kissed skin meant you were of a lower class.
Apart from being an attention-seeking fashion statement, wearing a hat on derby day is considered good luck.
Let's take a look at some.
Over the top...
Tramp stamp winner!
Our neighbors host a derby party every year. Mrs. M is from Kentucky. She strongly encourages guests to don a hat. I don't have mine picked out yet. But, I did see some Derby duds at Vineyard Vines -- "the official style of the Kentucky Derby." Yes, I was actually wandering around aimlessly at Lenox last weekend and snapped this photo. Smart looking outfits for a GRITS and her date. There's no way Mr. Mophead would go for the floral tie.
Love this one.
This cute julep tie too.
You all know that juleps are another well-known Derby tradition, right? Apparently there is much controversy over how to make the perfect mint julep. According to Drinkology, the cocktail has a long history that dates back to the 15th century when some form of it was used for medicinal purposes. In America, brandy juleps predate those using bourbon. Drinkology highly recommends using "good" bourbon and serving juleps in a pewter or silver cup. The metal conducts the cold from the ice. Crushed ice is essential.
Most recipes call for fresh mint leaves, simple syrup or raw superfine sugar and water, crushed ice and bourbon. The March issue of Matchbook includes a recipe for "the perfect" mint julep. As far as "good" bourbon goes, Kentucky chef Edward Lee offers this list in the May issue of Country Living:
Best over $80: Pappy van Winkle's Family Reserve. (He calls it the "god of bourbon."), Jefferson's Reserve Presidential Special Select and Colonel E.H. Taylor. "It is sacrilege to mix these bourbons with anything other than a touch of water," says Lee.
Best under $35: Old Forester. Four- or five-year-old Jim Beam and Wild Turkey are fine for mixed drinks.
Best for cooking: Bulleit and Elijah Craig.
Lee kicks it up a notch with this jalapeño-spiked julep recipe.
Grab your hats and juleps and enjoy the most exciting two-minute sporting event of the year in high style. And, good luck on your bets!
Photo images: 1, 2