Admittedly, I know nothing about horse racing, but what I do love is going to the race track and betting on the ponies.  Growing up in Chicagoland, we used to have several race tracks (nothing like Churchill Downs) that we’d go to and it was always a good time.  

Again, I have no clue what I am doing, so, of course, I have always picked my winners based on their name and if one of their colors was purple.  So, you can imagine how much money I’d walk away with.  But there’s nothing like sitting outside, soaking up the sun and enjoying a refreshing drink.

Spending the first Saturday of May at Churchill Downs watching the actual Kentucky Derby race in person is definitely on my bucket list, but until I actually get there, here are some fun facts and cocktail menus for you to enjoy at your Derby Day party.

Kentucky Derby Race Facts

  • The oldest sporting event in the United States, the inaugural Kentucky Derby was run at 1 1/2 miles on dirt in 1875.
  • The official drink of the Derby is the classic mint julep, and over 120,000 are said to be consumed at the race each year.
  • The Derby is also referred to as ‘The Run for the Roses’ because the winner is awarded a blanket sewn with over 400 roses post-race. This blanket weighs about 40 lbs.
  • The Kentucky Derby was started by Lewis Clark Jr.—grandson of William Clark, half of the famous explorer duo Lewis and Clark—after he saw England’s Epsom Derby.
  • More winning horses have come from Kentucky than any other state in the country.
  • Nineteen past winners have had names beginning with the letter “S,” including Secretariat.
  • No horses with names beginning with Q, X, or Y have ever won the Derby.

Derby Party Drinks

Kentucky Derby weekend parties are a lot of fun!  What a great time to get together, dress up and enjoy some delicious bourbon cocktails.  If you have been in the Bubbly Side of Life community for a while, you know we love to whip up a Kentucky Mule for any occasion.  And we’ve had a lot of fun with a bubbly spin on a Kentucky Mule along with many other cocktails.  

I suppose we need to start with the mint julep recipe since it is the official drink of the Kentucky Derby.  

Bubbly Mint Julep

  • 8 fresh mint leaves
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 2 ounces Kentucky bourbon
  • Bubbly
  • Garnish: mint sprig
In a champagne glass surrounded by roses, is the official cocktail of the Kentucky Derby, a mint julep garnished with a mint sprig.

This classic cocktail is so easy to make.  

  1. Wake up your fresh mint leaves by smacking them a few times and add them to a mixing glass.  
  2. Then add in the simple syrup and Kentucky bourbon with some crushed ice if you have it (we typically don’t have it so I’ll use a few cubes from the freezer).  
  3. Stir gently and then strain into julep cup (if you’re lucky enough to have one) or a rocks glass.  
  4. Of course, we need to bubbly-ize this drink, so top with bubbly.  
  5. Garnish with a sprig of mint. 

To me, there’s nothing too terribly exciting about a bubbly Mint Julep, so when we found a recipe for a Blackberry Mint Julep, we had to try that, bubbly-ize it and see if we liked it better. 

Bubbly Blackberry Mint Julep

  • 5 blackberries
  • 4-5 mint leaves
  • 1/2-1 oz honey syrup
  • 2 oz Kentucky Bourbon
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice or Trader Joe’s Limeade
  • Bubbly
  • Garnish: 2 blackberries and a mint sprig
In a rocks glass full of ice in front of a bed of roses is a blackberry mint julep cocktail garnished with 2 sprigs of mint.
  1. In a mixing glass, add blackberries, mint leaves (smack them first), honey syrup, bourbon and lime juice.  
  2. Muddle well.
  3. Strain into your julep cup (or a rocks glass). 
  4. Top with bubbly.
  5. Garnish with blackberries and sprigs of mint.
  6. Let’s make one more bourbon cocktail before we try a couple vodka cocktails for Derby Day.

Bubbly Kentucky Buck

  • 2-4 Strawberries (we used frozen)
  • 2 oz Kentucky Bourbon
  • 0.5 oz Simple Syrup
  • 0.75 oz Lemon Juice or Trader Joe’s Limeaede
  • 2 dashes angostura bitters
  • Bubbly
In a rocks glass full of ice is the bourbon based cocktail called the Kentucky Buck that bursting with bubbles at the top because we, of course, topped it with sparkling wine.
  1. In a mixing glass, combine strawberries, bourbon, simple syrup, lemon juice and bitters.  
  2. Muddle well.
  3. Strain into your favorite champagne glass or rocks glass.  
  4. Top with bubbly.
  5. Optional:  Garnish with a lemon twist.  

If you’ve been part of our little Bubbly Side community for a while, you know we’ve been really enjoying bourbon cocktails (thanks to my sister disovering her love for Kentucky bourbon).  But I have always loved vodka cocktails and they are always my go-to especially when a bar has a less than stellar bubbly wine list.  

So here are some vodka cocktails, perfect for your Kentucky Derby party one that is inspired by Finlandia Vodka.

Raspberry Lemonade Fizz

  • 1 1/2 oz Raspberry Vodka (We used Finlandia Vodka)                 
  • 2 oz Sparkling Cranberry Juice
  • 2 oz Sparkling Lemonade
  • Bubbly
In a champagne coupe behind a bed of roses is the Kentucky Derby inspired cocktail Raspberry Lemonade Fizz garnished with 2 frozen raspberries.
  1. In a mixing glass with ice, combine ingredients (everything but the bubbly). 
  2. Stir well.
  3. Pour into your favorite champagne glass or collins glass.
  4. ​Top with bubbly.
  5. Garnish with raspberries (we used frozen)


If you don’t have sparkling cranberry juice or sparkling lemonade the still versions work great.  And if none of your ingredients going into your mixing glass have bubbles, feel free to use a cocktail shaker and shake well to combine.  

As we approach the finish line here, this next cocktail definitely is one of our favorites.  And we are not only making it for our Derby Party, but we’ll be enjoying it all summer long.  

Bubbly Kentucky Oaks Lily

  • 1 1/2 ounces Vodka
  • 1/2 ounce Orange liqueur (we used Triple Sec)
  • 3 ounces sparkling Cranberry juice
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice or Trader Joe’s Limeade
  • Bubbly
Another Kentucky Derby inspired cocktail called the Oaks Lily in a tall champagne glass surrounded by roses that we added sparkling wine to make it the perfect bubbly derby drink.
  1. In a mixing glass with ice, combine ingredients: vodka, orange liqueur, cranberry juice and lemon juice.  
  2. Stir well.
  3. Strain into your favorite champagne glass or collins glass.  
  4. Top with bubbly. 
  5. ​Optional:  Garnish with a lemon slice.

TIP: If you don’t have sparkling cranberry juice, regular cranberry juice will work just as well.  And if you’re using regular cranberry juice, you can put it into a cocktail shaker.  (Don’t put bubbly beverages in a cocktail shaker or you’ll be cleaning up a mess!)

What signature cocktail will you have for your Derby party? 

Bubbly Side Community

We are so glad you’re here enjoying these recipes and invite you to join us on other platforms as well.

  • On Instagram, you’ll see a lot of behind the scenes, some how-to’s on making these cocktails and other fun adventures.
  • On Pinterest, you can easily organize your favorite bubbly recipes and travel ideas.
  • On LTK, you can favorite the items you like that we use to create these cocktails and shop them when they’re on sale.  

Can’t wait to celebrate with you!