If you’re planning on hosting a Kentucky Derby party, you need the recipe for this Peach Mint Julep + Candied Bourbon Vanilla Pecans!
The countdown to the Ky Derby is officially on! Don’t wait until the last minute to plan your party menu because this Peach Mint Julep + Candied Bourbon Vanilla Pecans will be the stars of your soiree.
Whether you’re a Ky native like me or you live across the country, the Ky Derby is a big deal. I happen to live about 5 miles from where the magic happens, so it’s safe to say for the next couple of months, we’ll be eating, drinking, and sleeping derby. Last year around this time, I had the opportunity to create a couple of recipes for Reese Witherspoon’s lifestyle brand, Draper James. They were, of course, derby themed, and in honor of the upcoming race, I thought I would share them with you today! Check out the Q&A I did with them below, or skip to the end for the recipes!
Tell us about this recipe for Peach Mint Juleps.
I adore peach and bourbon together, so it was natural for me to pair the two Southern flavors in this cocktail. Classic mint juleps can be a little strong if you’re not a bourbon drinker, and adding the peach makes this version slightly sweeter and easier on the palate.
How about the Bourbon Vanilla Candied Pecans?
Candied pecans remind me of the holidays, and in Louisville, Derby is definitely considered a holiday. Schools are even out for The Oaks! I added a splash of bourbon to my usual candied pecan recipe to give it a little something special and echo the flavors of the Peach Mint Juleps. Plus, if you’re hosting a Derby party, these pecans will make your house smell insanely delicious. I’m a big believer in serving bar snacks with booze, and nuts are always a good choice. Since the pecans are sweet and have a light bourbon flavor, I thought they would be perfect for munching alongside the cocktails.
Can you share more about food and drink traditions for Derby?
Aside from the mint julep, which is the official drink of The Kentucky Derby, there’s also the Grey Goose Oaks Lily, which is a cranberry- and vodka-based cocktail. You can’t go through Derby day without a slice or two of Derby Pie, a very rich chocolate, and walnut pie. Bourbon balls are a must, and you’ll usually find classic Louisville dishes like the Hot Brown, Benedictine, and burgoo, alongside fried chicken, barbecue, and pimento cheese.
How would you describe “Louisville” cuisine?
Louisville has an amazing food scene, and it’s growing and changing constantly. You can definitely see bits of the South sprinkled in a lot of the restaurants, but there’s a modern, locally-sourced aspect that’s appealing to foodies like me. There’s also a great array of authentic ethnic establishments that bring a wonderful worldly feel to the city. Louisville is the melting pot of Kentucky, and it shows in the cuisine. If you’ve never been to Louisville, I would highly recommend taking a weekend to come experience the exceptional food, cocktails, and coffee that we have to offer.
What are your Derby day plans and traditions?
Derby is the one day of the year that Louisville is inundated with thousands of out-of-towners, which is a great thing! I tend to avoid the madness and watch from home or go to a party. (Us locals tend to hit the tracks during The Oaks or “Thurby,” which is the Thursday before Derby.) That being said, if you love people watching, you need to make it a point to go to the Derby at least once to see all of the frantic betting, fun fashion, and celebs. Getting dressed up in a pretty ensemble and unique headwear is the best part, aside from the cocktails and bar snacks, of course! So even if I’m just chilling at home, I’m going all out.
Having a Derby Party? Check out my Lily Punch to go along with your Mint Juleps!
- 6 mint leaves
- 2 tbsp ripe peach, diced
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1½ oz bourbon
- ½ teaspoon lemon juice
- crushed ice
- Muddle the mint leaves in the shaker until aromatic, then add in the peaches and sugar and muddle further. Pour in bourbon and lemon juice.
- Fill the shaker halfway with ice, place the lid on and shake well.
- Fill the julep cup with crushed ice then pour over the peach bourbon mixture.
- Garnish with mint and a slice of peach.
- 1/2 lb pecan halves
- 1 tbsp bourbon
- 1 egg white
- 1/2 tbsp good quality vanilla
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 1/8 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 tbsp cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 250º and line baking sheet with foil.
- In a large bowl, combine the sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Stir and set aside.
- In another large bowl, combine the egg white, bourbon, and vanilla. Whisk until frothy.
- Add the pecans and stir to coat.
- With a slotted spoon, remove pecans from the liquid mixture and add them to sugar mixture, leaving behind the remaining liquid.
- Pour pecans out onto prepared baking sheet.
- Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, stirring every 20 minutes.
- The pecans will harden as they cool.
- Allow to cool completely before serving or storing.