Friday I went to a party at the Richard H. Driehaus Museum called Bourbon, Bowties & Bonnets, which celebrated the Kentucky Derby. My friend and I went with colorful, spring outfits, but we didn’t don bonnets because we just didn’t have any. Next year, we will. Still a lot of guests got into the spirit of the festivities and dressed up from head to toe. Many women had spectacular hats, but my favorite was a straw hat with a wide brim decorated with flowers, a small plastic horse and an old ticket from the Kentucky Derby.
When we arrived we were given mint juleps, the cocktail most associated with the Kentucky Derby. A bona fide mint julep comes in a pewter glass and has crushed ice (not cubes), sugar (not syrup), bourbon and mint leaves (recipe here). Bourbon is the first alcohol invented in the U.S. and must be made up of at least 51% corn and be made in fresh oak barrels. After their first use, the barrels are sold to Scotland, Mexico and elsewhere. Those countries use the barrels to make other alcohol. Though distilled in Kentucky for the most part, Bourbon got its name from Bourbon Street in New Orleans, where bourbon became popular.
With our mint juleps we listened to music and nibbled hot appetizers. We learned about the derby’s history.
Then we went upstairs and could taste three different cocktails: The Brown Derby, Old Fashioned and Boulevardier. My favorite was The Brown Derby with the strong Old Fashioned and Boulevardier coming in a distant second and third.
We could wander around the museum checking out this stunning Gilded Age home and the current exhibit on the history of chairs in America. In addition, they had a real life milliner selling gorgeous hats and fascinators, which would be perfect for anyone going to the derby or a royal wedding. Some of our fellow guests were planning on going to the Drake Hotel’s viewing of Prince Harry and Meaghan Markel’s wedding and got their hats here.