High West Derby Day Celebration

Last Saturday High West Whiskey Distillery held its third annual Derby Day Celebration.  The party is officially about the Kentucky Derby horse race while unofficially being all about food, hats and of course, whiskey.  This year High West also celebrated the debut of a new whiskey, Campfire, at the event.  As a lover of whiskey, food and playing dress up, I ecstatically signed up for the event as soon as I heard about it.

Tickets to the event were $30, which covered food and the entertainment of the David Halliday Dixieland jazz band (but not alcohol).  The “Big Pan Derby Tailgate” included an impressive spread of Derby Day Burgoo (a Kentucky-style stew with pork shoulder, pork ribs, chicken, garlic, onions, corn, beans, peppers and whiskey — amazingly delicious!), smoked salmon, a green salad, Silver Royal Ascot salad (pineapple, cucumbers and red peppers), and Derby Hot Browns (an open-faced turkey sandwich with smoked bacon, roma tomatoes and paramesan sauce).  (The full buffet line up is here.)
There was a full bar, plus mini mint juleps for $4.  What is it about mint juleps that automatically signal to your taste buds that summer is here?  Even though it was a bit chilly in Park City, it was a beautiful sunny day to be sipping on summer drinks and wearing a giant hat.
All the ladies in their Derby Day hats at High West Distillery.
Speaking of the hats, both ladies and men were in derby-inspired outfits.  There were plenty of little dresses, giant hats, sear-sucker suits and bow ties.  There was even a tiny baby in a huge, flower-topped hat!  There were three categories of the hat contest: most glamorous, most outrageous and best use of High West.  There was plenty of competition for the most glamorous category, but only a few people thought of ways to incorporate High West into their attire.  (Note to self: participate in that category next year!)  The most outrageous winner was spectacular–the woman had a huge stuffed animal horse on her head!
In addition to the hat contest there was a free raffle for the horse race, which was over in a flash.  (I had no idea that the Kentucky Derby is all hype and only a minute’s worth of racing!)  Those who picked the winning horse (appropriately named I’ll Have Another) were put into a drawing and the winner won a bottle of High West’s new Campfire whiskey, a blend of bourbon, rye and scotch.  (It sounds crazy but it was delicious; click here for a review.)  Then the afternoon was finished off with dessert: double rye pecan pie, bourbon-laced panna cotta or house-made s’mores.
High West S’more.
The whole celebration was a great way to kick off the start of summer, drink some good whiskey and eat delicious food.  I’m already planning on attending next year’s celebration.  Which means I better start working on adding more oomph to my Derby Day hat!
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