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Cinco de Derby is upon us!

In Larry's post, earlier this week, I included my best margarita recipe which would be great for a day like today. But, at the time, I didn't realize Cinco de Mayo is extra special this year, falling on the first Saturday of May, which is also Derby Day! The Kentucky Derby starts at 5pm EST sharp, so get your bets in - and be sure to give this post a quick read to get some great recipes for a fun party including drinks, food and plenty of party activities.

Cheers!

Margarita: This is a Cinco staple, so for a great recipe check out my post from earlier this week: Cooking with Larry: Get creative with Cinco De Mayo

Mint Julep: (This recipe courtesy of fellow mixologist, Jared.) I can't claim credit for this recipe, which dates back to an 1857 Harper's Monthly article (and which I first read about in cocktail historian, David Wondrich's, book Imbibe!). It calls for a mixture of Cognac and Rye, which results in a bit more complexity than you'd find in a standard Brandy or Bourbon julep.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2oz. sugar (I like turbinado, but white sugar works as well)
  • 1 oz. water
  • 1 1/1 oz. Cognac
  • 1/2oz. Rye
  • 6-7 mint leaves
  • Crushed ice

If you don't have a Julep cup on hand (because really, who does?), any glass you have is probably fine to stir and serve in. Add the sugar and water, stirring until blended, then add the clean mint leaves and muddle lightly. (Don't over-muddle; easy pressing should extract flavor without causing the bitterness you'd get from mangling the leaves.) Add the Cognac and Rye; stir. Add enough crushed ice to cool the drink and look good in the glass you've chosen; stir again. Add a mint sprig to garnish, drop in a straw, and have yourself a party.

Mint Jule-Rita: A special concoction to celebrate the rare merge of Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby!

Ingredients:

  • 1 part Tequila
  • 1 part Bourbon
  • 1 part Triple Sec
  • 3 parts sweet and sour mix
  • 3 parts seltzer
  • 4-5 mint leaves
  • Garnish with lime wedge and sugar or salt on rim of glass

Shake all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Pour in rimmed glass (your preference of salt or sugar), garnish with a lime wedge and mint sprig and enjoy!

"Mexi-tucky" themed food

Country ham quesadillas: Quesadillas with a Southern flare - simply stuff delicious shredded cheese, chopped and sauteed vegetables (bell peppers, onions and zucchini are my picks) and cooked country ham (diced) in between two soft tortillas and pan fry or even bake for a few minutes until tortillas start to brown and cheese melts. Serve with salsa and sour cream if you're in a Mexican mood, or a spicy honey mustard if you prefer.

BBQ chicken taquitos Ingredients:

  • 2 cups shredded deli roasted chicken
  • 1/3 cup BBQ Sauce
  • 1/2 cup monterey jack cheese, shredded
  • 12 small flour tortillas
  • Olive oil
  • One cup of chicken broth

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Mix chicken, BBQ Sauce and cheese in a large bowl. Dip tortillas in chicken broth, add some of the chicken mixture, roll up tight and place on a baking sheet. Brush lightly with oil and bake about 25 minutes or until the edges start to brown. Serve extra BBQ sauce on the side with your favorite coleslaw.

Burgoo-rito: Burgoo, a spicy stew, is a staple at any true Kentucky Derby party. If you're feeling adventurous, why not prepare a taco-like station with the taco fixings? Include soft shells and sour cream, drain the Burgoo - and stuff away! Warning: this could get very messy. If you're daring enough to try - please share pictures with us!

South of the Border Pimento Cheese Spread: This spread will sure to be a crowd favorite and may be gone before the race is even over!

Fun activities Gather all the hats in your house for a photo-booth inspired photo shoot. It may be the only time a sombrero is acceptable at a Derby Day party!

Fun loving bets - have each person draw a name of a contender from a hat (again, sombrero in this case) and donate a dollar - winner takes home the hat and winnings! All the names of the horses can be found here: http://www.kentuckyderby.com/horses. My money is on I'll Have Another!

What are your ideas to make this day extra special this year? Share here - and happy Cinco de Derby to everyone!

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May the 4th be with you