Derby Day Bucks County Style

Sciascia Confections_Derby Day_pink-hats

Pierre's Derby Day horseBeing as my birthday is only a few days before the Kentucky Derby, I’m usually completely unaware of this popular horse race. Typically, I mention doing something on that day with a friend and they’ll say, “Oh, but it’s Derby Day!” Right. Really?

But I have finally realized that a lot of folks enjoy celebrating the Kentucky Derby even if they can’t get to the Churchill Downs.

Why not? Good food and drink, and only two important minutes of sport (which are very well-defined, unlike a baseball game which may also have two total minutes of crucial action).

If you’re having a Derby party, try putting a local twist into it with some local whiskey, chocolates and a time-tested recipe for Derby Pie.

It’s not all about bourbon

A Mint Julep, the official Derby libation, involves desecrating good bourbon with sugar and mint. It is forbidden in our house. But I reached out to Herman Mihalich, Master Distiller at Dad’s Hat Rye Whiskey Distillery in Bristol, to ask for his version of the famous Derby drink, using Dad’s Hat Rye. Here’s two recipes to try if you’re not into Mint Juleps. (Click here for more recipes from their website.)

Whiskey smash_ Dads HatWHISKEY SMASH

1 – ½ oz Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye
¾ oz Simple Syrup
1 oz Water
1 Lemon
4 Mint Leaves (for garnish)

Quarter and muddle lemon. Add all ingredients over ice in a shaker. Shake and strain into cocktail glass with crushed
ice. Garnish with mint.

Derby_Dads HatDERBY

1 oz Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye
1 oz Applejack
½ oz Sweet Vermouth
½ oz Maple Syrup
1 barspoon Fernet Brancca
1 Twist Orange (for garnish)

Add all ingredients over ice in a shaker. Stir and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with orange peel.

Sciascia Confections_Derby Day_pink-hats

Chocolate Anyone?

Chocolate is appropriate on any occasion, don’t you agree? I asked local artisanal chocolatiers Pierre’s in New Hope and Sciascia Confections at the Stockton Market to come up with a few unique sweets to honor Derby Day (note: these chocolates were first available in 2015…please call these chocolatiers to see what they have in stock this month).

You can stop by and pick up a variety of these chocolatier’s creations just in time for the celebration!

Pierre's Derby Day chocolates

A not-so-local pie but really good all the same

Years ago, when I was just starting out in the training field, I had the privilege of working with Margie Marcil. Margie is wonderful. A better, kinder, more fun mentor I couldn’t have asked for. Although a native of Charleston, she spent her college years in Louisville and became hooked on Derby Day. Every year she holds a party, and makes about ten or more Derby Pies for the occasion. Being a Philly girl I had never heard of Derby Pie but when I saw the ingredients, I became a fan. Take pecan pie and add chocolate chips and bourbon. What could be wrong? It’s easy too.

Derby Pie; photo by
Photo by


Thanks to Margie Marcil

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Combine all of the following ingredients in a bowl.

3 eggs
1 cup light Karo corn syrup (or, 1 cup sugar and ¼ cup hot water, mixed together)
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt
2 TBSP Bourbon
2 TBSP margarine, melted

3. Stir in the following ingredients.

1 cup chocolate chips
1 cup pecans

4. Pour into 1 unbaked 9″, deep dish pie shell.

5. Bake at 400°F for 15 minutes, then at 350°F for 30 – 35 minutes. It may seem a little soft, but that’s okay. If it’s still soupy, put it back in for a bit.

6. Serve with whipped cream or ice cream.


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  1. What’s the date of the Derby this year? Channel to watch on TV? Thanks for the drink recipes!

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