Five Must-Have Items for the 140th Kentucky Oaks

The Kentucky Derby is a world-renowned event. With crowds reaching over 150,000 people and a cavalcade of celebrities descending on Louisville, Derby has become a bit of a production. Derby is one of those events that should be on everyone's Bucket List, but it draws larger crowds than the Super Bowl. That can be fun, but it isn't everyone's cup of tea bourbon.

Here in Louisville, folks know that The Kentucky Oaks has a longtime reputation as The Locals' Race. In recent years, the Friday event, with its signature Grade I stakes race for three year-old fillies, has become a celebration of all things pink. The Stargazer Lily adorns everything from the race's logo to the garland awarded to the winning horse. The race celebrates survivors of breast and ovarian cancer. The race's signature drink -- as Glenda told us last Oaks Day -- is The Oaks Lily. And, you can rest assured, most everybody in Louisville will be at Churchill Downs for Oaks. Louisville schools dismiss for the day and most offices close early. This morning, my barista was even getting into the spirit, pairing a festive pink fascinator with her Starbucks-issued green apron.

In the spirit of all things Oaks, Pink, and Louisville, I've rounded up a few must-have items that commemorate the 140th running of The Kentucky Oaks. 

Louisville Stoneware Oaks Lily Julep Cup

Available in-store only, this gorgeous cup is a beautiful addition to your Stoneware or julep cup collection.

Oaks Lilly Julep Cup from Louisville Stoneware
Rebecca Ray Design Oaks Tote Bag

I love this bag! So springy and fun, with an equestrian twist.

Kentucky Oaks Tote from Rebecca Ray Design
Beau Ties LTD. Kentucky Oaks Bow Tie

Deck your beau out in style!

Kentucky Oaks Bow Tie from Beau Ties Ltd.

Kentucky Oaks Poster and Glass

The Oaks poster and glass are gorgeous this year. I think this poster would be so fun for a guest room or office!
140th Kentucky Oaks Poster

140th Kentucky Oaks Glass

Happy Oaks Day, y'all!

The Berry Cobbler Mint Julep

A couple of weeks ago, on a rare date night with my husband (we have a two-year-old, after all), we were strolling around downtown Lexington all footloose and fancy free when I noticed a "new" mural on an old, familiar wall, only to be informed it has been there for a long time.  Like I said, I don't get out much.

Herekut Mural on Market Street;   2012 Lexington Mural Project

Herekut Mural on Market Street; 2012 Lexington Mural Project

My eyes drifted around the corner, to the front of the building, and straight into Belle's Cocktail House. True to the hip and cool image we were portraying after we ditched the decidedly un-cool mini-van in a parking lot, we decided to go inside and check it out.  I assumed the name had a connection to Lexington's infamous Belle Brezing, on whom the character Belle Watlingin "Gone with the Wind" was modeled.  Much to my delight, the portrait of Belle Brezing hanging in the downstairs bar confirmed this connection.

Gatewood's Manhattan caught my eye.  I loved Gatewood Galbraith and a Manhattan is my favorite drink. The perfect marriage. (Okay...I must confess I asked the bartender to drop most of the liquid smoke since I dislike smoke flavor.  I felt guilty about it, but reassured myself that Gatewood would tell me to do whatever the heck I wanted.)  

Although not on the menu, our bartender told us about Belle's own Josh Naylor's prize winning Berry Cobbler Mint Julep, People’s Choice Winner 2014 Four Roses Mint Julep Competition.  He had me at "berry cobbler."  If you're looking for a new julep recipe or find yourself in Belle's neighborhood, I highly recommend this delicious beauty.  (It may not be on the menu, so be sure to ask for it.)

The Berry Cobbler Mint Julep Recipe

People’s Choice Winner 2014 Four Roses Mint Julep Competition

(Published by The Bourbon Review)

Recipe by Josh Naylor of Belle’s Cocktail House (Lexington, KY)


  • 15-20 mint leaves (depending on size)
  • 8-10 blueberries (depending on size)
  • 1/4 lemon
  • .75 oz blackberry simple syrup
  • .25 oz vanilla cinnamon simple syrup
  • 1.75 oz Four Roses Small Batch
  • Crushed ice
  • Plum bitters
  • Mint sprig (for garnish)
  • Lemon twist (for garnish)


Add mint leaves, blueberries and the juice of a 1/4 of a lemon into the bottom of a double rocks glass. Gently muddle just enough to break up the blueberries and release the oils of the mint. Add the blackberry syrup, vanilla cinnamon syrup and the bourbon directly into the glass. Fill halfway with crushed ice. With a bar spoon stir the contents in order to pull the muddled ingredients up away from the bottom of the glass. Fill the rest of the way with crushed ice mounding it as much as possible. Add 1-2 dashes of plum bitters on top of mounded ice. Garnish with a lemon twist and fresh sprig of mint.

Vanilla Cinnamon Simple Syrup

In a sauce pan add 16 oz. light brown sugar, 16 oz. distilled water, 1 whole vanilla bean split in half, 1 whole cinnamon stick and 1 whole allspice berry. Bring all ingredients to a boil making sure to stir constantly in order to help the sugar completely dissolve and not burn. Once a boil has been reached, reduce heat to a simmer. Let the liquid reduce by half (about 30 minutes) stirring occasionally. Let cool and strain into a resealable container or storm pourer ready for use.

Blackberry Simple Syrup

In a sauce pan add 16 oz. light brown sugar, 16 oz. distilled water, 8 oz. fresh blackberries and 1/4 tsp. of freshly grated nutmeg. Bring all ingredients to a boil making sure to stir constantly in order to help the sugar completely dissolve and not burn. Also use the spoon you are stirring with to help break up the berries and release their juice. Once a boil has been reached, reduce heat to a simmer. Let the liquid reduce by half (about 30 minutes) stirring occasionally. Let cool and strain (making sure to press the berries to get out all the liquid leaving nothing but the seeds and pulp in the strainer) into a resealable container or storm pourer ready for use.

Derby At Belle's

The Bourbon Review is hosting its first annual Bourbon Review Derby Party,  Derby At Belle's. $30 tickets include brunch with Wild Eggs, 3 drinks and giveaways for best Derby Hat and Dapper Dressed Guy.  Proceeds go toward the Friends of the Lexington Mounted Police.  

Off Broadway Shoes Derby Hat Trunk Show

I was so excited to join Off Broadway Shoes for their Derby Hat Trunk Show last Saturday.

I always thought of Off Broadway as "The Place We Go To Look For Bob's Dress Shoes"; I had no idea they would have such an awesome selection of Kentucky Derby Hats!

Hat designer Carole Amper was on hand to help customers create the perfect hat for their Derby Ensembles. Now, as a Kentucky Girl, I've always thought that I was "just born knowing" how to add feathers, flowers, and embellishments to make a hat perfect. And, while I may be good at it, Carole was spectacular. She just had a gift for adding a little pop of coral or navy to set off a hat buyer's eye color or pick up the right tone in her dress.
Carole Amper adds the perfect touch to one of her hats.
It was really fantastic to see all the squeals of glee when these ladies realized that they had found the perfect hat for the occasion. The right hat makes you feel special and pretty and unique; isn't that what Derby is all about?

It was fun to see the silent auction hats on prominent display, as well. The hat I made looked so much better on a proper mannequin than it did on my dining room table! 

If you follow HerKentucky on Instagram (and, let's face it, you should), you know that I simply fell in love with this hat at the event. It was so gorgeous! (They also had it in turquoise, aqua, and purple, for those of y'all who love cool/water tones.)

I couldn't help but try it on. Isn't it perfect?

Thanks so much to Off Broadway Shoes for inviting me to their Trunk Show! If any of y'all are still looking for a hat, I suggest running out to their store at 4600 Shelbyville Road, Suite 201 for a fantastic selection!

{Photos 1-6 courtesy Off Broadway Shoes. Photos 7-8, in their grainy iPhone glory, are my own. I was a host for the Off Broadway Shoes event, but did not receive any compensation for this post.}

Celebrating Derby Days at the Kentucky Derby Festival Chow Wagon.

This weekend, my beau and I took our littlest dog down to Louisville's Waterfront Park to visit the Chow Wagons.
All Kentucky'ed out -- Bluegrass Tee by Old Try; KY Necklace by Southern Belle Glitz; Derby Festival Pegasus Pin.

The Chow Wagons are part of Fest-a-Ville, a week-long carnival of music, food, and fun associated with the Kentucky Derby Festival. Admission is free with your Pegasus Pin.

You can purchase tickets for food and drink. 

And, of course, there are awesome carnival prizes!

We managed to pass up the beer and funnel cake tents, but these gyros were pretty awesome.

It was a perfect day to celebrate the Derby City before the madness of Race Day sets in.

Have you taken in any of the Kentucky Derby Festival events this year?

Designing the Perfect Kentucky Derby Hat

The 140th Kentucky Derby is almost here, y'all.

Kentucky Derby Mint Julep

I've already bought a commemorative Derby Glass and sipped a little something minty from it. And, like most Louisvillians, I've already given a lot of thought to my Derby Hat. So, I was thrilled when the folks from Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse asked me to participate in their Derby Hat Trunk Show and Fundraiser!

140th Kentucky Derby Hat Fashion Blog

Off Broadway sent me a hat and asked me to decorate it however I liked and return it to their Shelbyville Road store to be auctioned off to benefit The Kentucky Derby Festival Foundation. Well, who could say no to the opportunity to create a beautiful hat while helping benefit the Derby City?

Of course, the first thing you need for the perfect Derby Hat is flowers. Striking, unique flowers are the key to any well-designed hat. So, I headed to Dee's, Louisville's beloved spot for Derby hat decorations.

Dee's was certainly ready for Derby, with flowers, feathers, and equestrian-themed merchandise everywhere!

It was hard to decide among all the gorgeous feathers and flowers! I wanted to use them all!

Finally, I decided on my favorite flowers -- an assortment of lilies -- and a fun aqua and white color scheme that looked so striking against the red hat. 

Please join Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse at 4600 Shelbyville Road, Suite 201 this Saturday, April 26, for their hat event. Local stylists and hat designer Carole Amper will be there to help you pick out the perfect hat for your Derby ensemble. You'll have the opportunity to bid on my hat, as well as those designed by other community members!

Thanks so much to Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse for letting me take part in this fabulous event! I hope to see y'all there!

Win a Kentucky Derby Hat from Goorin Bros!

Derby is only 24 days away, y'all!

Kentucky Derby Giveaway

Can you believe that it's already time to plan your Kentucky Derby outfits and finalize your plans for Derby Day?

Goorin Bros Hats wants help you get ready for Derby with a hat from their Kentucky Derby Hat collection.

Kentucky Derby Hat

Established in 1895, Goorin Bros has carried on the tradition of authentic family craftsmanship for five generations. This year, they want to help one lucky HerKentucky reader get ready for the Derby in style!

The winner will choose from the Ms. Churchill Straw Boater

Kentucky Derby Hat
Kentucky Derby Hat
We'll pick a winner on Monday; you can enter using the Rafflecopter widget below. 

Just tell us, what are you wearing to Derby?

HerKentucky Derby Days: Rebecca Ray Designs Bracelet Giveaway!

 Happy Oaks Day, y'all!

With Derby almost here, we have one more Derby Days giveaway for you.  Megan B recently profiled  the lovely equestrian designs of Rebecca Ray Designs. I just love these products, too. They've got a horsey vibe, but are a little edgy and at times kitschy. I mean, how cute is this bag?

The Leona
 And this flask? So perfect for pre-gaming!
Leather Flask with Rosette

This stuff is seriously adorable, and available at select Kentucky stores, including L.V. Harkness, Dolfingers, and the gift shops at the Brown Hotel, the American Saddlebred Museum, and Keeneland. If you're not in Lexington or Louisville, you can shop at Ashland's Holly B's or Midway's The Fashion Filly.

Rebecca Ray Designs has kindly offered to give one lucky HerKentucky winner this gorgeous bracelet.
It's a croc print leather cuff bracelet with a  silver horse bit embellishment in a stunning shade of cobalt blue. It will be so perfect for UK games or a day at the track. It's a fresh, fun interpretation of classic equestrian style, and I think y'all will just love it!

Contest runs through Derby Weekend, so you have until midnight on Sunday to enter.

Good luck, and Happy Derby Days!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

{No member of the HerKentucky writing staff was compensated for this post.}