What an exciting week with Cinco de Mayo, Mother’s Day AND the Kentucky Derby! So much celebrating to be had. I would love to tell you I’ve been to the Kentucky Derby and share all the little details. To date, I have not but that isn’t stopping me from turning the occasion into a party at home anyway.
I have been to the horse races however. When I was living and working in California the leader of a work team I was on thought it would be a fun team building offsite to go to the horse races. In the middle of a work day we took off in our corporate suits to see what it was all about. There were certainly diehards there whom I suspect where there every day with big dreams of striking it rich. All clutching programs and betting tickets, their angst was palpable.
We were each given a small amount of cash to bet. While many were analyzing the race records for each horse or the betting odds, I had to go see the horses. Somehow I felt that would give me a divine intuition which I should bet on. Before each race I’d go downstairs where the horses were getting ready and try to decide which to bet on. It wasn’t completely objective as I was swayed by their names too.
I will tell you my friends I’m clearly not a horse whisperer, at least in a betting realm, because though I think I did win a few it was certainly pure luck or statistics. It was a fun time however and I’d definitely go to The Kentucky Derby if the chance presented itself. But not to bet. To wear a big hat and drink Mint Juleps I think.
Mint Juleps are definitely the iconic Derby cocktail and I wanted to do a little spin on them. Homemade spearmint ice cream made with fresh mint is the starter; and for kids or teetotalers you don’t have to go any further. I’m simply in love with this ice cream. The fresh mint gives it a very true and natural mint flavor unlike mint ice cream purchased at the store. It’s definitely going to be my go to this summer as a means to keep the massive mint crop under control.
For cocktail-lovers however the mint ice cream is a key ingredient in a Mint Julep Derby Ice Cream Float. Some bourbon and seltzer water top it off and will be perfect for a Kentucky Derby party. It’s a minty cocktail-meets-dessert that will be a huge hit! I like to pre-scoop ice cream balls and freeze them. This makes the assembly much easier in the moment and the ice cream doesn’t melt as fast.
I have another fun surprise for you. I made some free printable Kentucky Derby Party Betting Cards that! There is a sheet of them which I recommend you print on cardstock and then cut out the individual cards. Whether with a group or watching at home they are a fun way to test your betting skills! Just in case you need a primer on the three bets to be placed on a race, here are the definitions of each one:
To ‘Win’: betting on a horse to come in first place (that’s pretty obvious)
To ‘Place’: betting on a horse to come in first OR second place (you don’t pick which place but win the bet if the horse comes in first or second)
To ‘Show’: betting on a horse to come in first, second OR third. If your horse makes into any of those three spots, you win!
Homemade Mint Ice Cream & Mint Julep Derby Ice Cream Floats
Ingredients for Homemade Mint Ice Cream:
- 2 cups Heavy Whipping Cream or Half and Half
- 1 cup Whole Milk
- ¾ cups Granulated Sugar
- 2 cups fresh Spearmint Leaves
- 1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Ingredients for Mint Julep Derby Ice Cream Floats (per float):
- 1 1/2 ounces Bourbon
- 3 Mint Ice Cream Balls
- 3-4 ounces Seltzer Water
- Garnish: stem of mint
Instructions for Homemade Mint Ice Cream:
In a heavy, medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the cream/half and half, milk and sugar. Bring almost to a simmer, stirring often until the sugar has dissolved.
Remove from heat and add the mint leaves, stirring them into the liquid. Allow to sit for 1 hour.
Strain and add the vanilla. Chill until fully cold for a few hours in the refrigerator or overnight. Once chilled, process in an ice cream maker according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Once complete, spoon into a freezer proof container and chill overnight.
Prepare a baking sheet lined with parchment or waxed paper. Scoop the ice cream into 2-inch balls, place on the prepared pan and return to the freezer for them to become solid (2 hours or longer).
Instructions for Mint Julep Derby Ice Cream Floats:
Place 3 ice cream balls in a chilled 8 ounce Julep cup. Pour in the bourbon and fill with seltzer water.