Five Easy Bar Cart Ideas for the Kentucky Derby

How to Set Up and Style Your Bar Cart(s) for the Kentucky Derby, Featuring Woodford Reserve

Are you hosting a Derby party? If you are, you’re not alone! The Derby is one of the biggest at-home party days of the year. As such, I thought I’d share some of my ideas to easily wow your crowd.

  • Make Flowers Focal

Are you having a kid-friendly party? Try making flowers and a cake the focal point of your bar cart! This indicates that the station isn’t centered on alcohol, though it’s easy to pop in a bottle of Woodford Reserve (like we did!) and spike the drink for the adults in the room.

  • Set Up Multiple Stations

It was a big ah-ha for me when I got my second bar cart. It’s so easy to find pretty and inexpensive bar carts (think Target, Home Goods and the like) and it instantly ensures your set up isn’t squished. I’ve employed this strategy at the most recent baby and bridal showers that I’ve hosted and it’s worked like a charm. Don’t have multiple carts? Separate your drink stations by type (i.e. a Mint Julep station in one area and a cucumber water kid-friendly drink in another).

  • Explore Etsy

I’ve found some of my favorite pieces on Etsy. Take the boxwood horse heads (pictured below), for example! They’re so fun and could easily be turned into unicorns for your little lady’s birthday party. I also love these drink stirrers that I found. Of course, a custom cake topper is a must!

  • Vary Your Height

You’ll notice that in a lot of the images there’s a stand on the bottom of the cart. It’s intended to be used as a drying rack, but I love using it as a cup holder. It’s a way of condensing your serving pieces and also adding a visually pleasing height variation.

  • Add an Unexpected Element

If you’re offering pre-mixed cocktails, one idea is to put blue and white ginger jars on the bottom of the cart as a way to fill space (and it employs the height variation strategy I mentioned above).

Most importantly, have fun. There’s no wrong way to style a bar cart! Scroll down to learn how I make my favorite mint julep and for another go-to, family-friendly Kentucky Derby Day recipe (not to mention all the inspiration you’ll need)…


Can you tell that Elle’s outfit has little jockeys on it?! So perfect for the Derby.

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A Second Station

You might consider renting this backdrop made by Taylor Design Shop. It makes for great photos and is an easy way to create a “moment” for your guests. 

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Etsy-Approved + Height to Boot

How to Make The Perfect Kentucky Derby Mint Julep with Woodford Reserve

  • 2 oz Woodford Reserve® Bourbon
  • 1 tbsp Sugar
  • 3  Fresh Mint Leaves
  •   Crushed Ice
  • 1 oz Water

Muddle 3 mint springs, sugar and water in the bottom of a julep cup. Fill glass with crushed ice, add bourbon and stir. Garnish with more ice and fresh mint.

Get one of these bad boys to crush your own ice! Crushed ice is a must for mint juleps.

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Add the Unexpected


I thought I’d leave you with a recipe for one of my favorite family-friendly drinks. You can spike it with some Woodford Reserve and it’s perfect for the whole party.

Runners To Your Mark

  • 2 oz Cucumber Water**
  • 1 oz Basil Simple Syrup
  • 3/4 oz Lemon Juice

Combine all and shake. Double strain in a collins glass (or this more kid-friendly option) on the rocks. Garnish with a basil leaf and cucumber slice on top.

**To make cucumber water, take 1 peeled English cucumber and blend it with 1/2 cup of water, then strain.

Thanks to Woodford Reserve for sponsoring this post! And thank you to @drinkingwiththegirls for sharing this recipe!

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