Patricia begins planning her Derby parties in March, which is when she secures catering and sends out the invitations. In the true spirit of Southern hospitality, handwritten invitations are always mailed, eschewing modern conveniences such as email and Facebook. She recommends hosting the event between 6:00 - 8:00 p.m.
"Most people drink, chat, and nibble until it's actually time for [the horses] to go to the gate. The race is short-lived, and then afterward they go back to drinking and nibbling," she told the Post.
When it comes to attire, Patricia simply instructs guests to wear "Derby attire" on the invitations. For women, this typically includes a white or pastel dress, while men don seersucker suits and bow ties. For indoor parties, she suggests skipping the hat.
Patricia's floral arrangements include roses - a nod to the Kentucky Derby nickname, the "Run for the Roses."
There is one essential accessory for throwing an authentic Derby Party... silver julep cups. "Some people serve [juleps] in a glass, which is blasphemous," says Patricia. And she always uses a Lewis Ice Bag and mallet for properly crushed ice. "The worst thing possible is to run out of ice, especially if you're making mint juleps. That would be disastrous," she says. She recommends purchasing a pound of ice per guest.
1 ¹/₃ ozs. Bulleit Bourbon
1 ¹/₂ tsps. sugar
Fresh mint leaves
Using a silver julep cup and a silver muddler, crush sugar, mint leaves and a splash of water. Add Bulleit Bourbon, fill glass with crushed ice and stir until frosty. Garnish with fresh mint.
Along with mint juleps, Patricia also serves her family recipe for General Lee's Artillery Punch. (One of her ex-husbands is reportedly related to Robert E. Lee.)
And if all else fails, she recommends renting an industrial frozen-drink machine from a local catering company. Patricia loves to serve pomegranate margaritas.
When it comes to food, Patricia has three rules: "nothing that's squishy, drippy, or red." Her favorites include ham biscuits, crustless tea sandwiches made with pimento cheese and shrimp paste, deviled eggs, and a shrimp tower. She sets up food and drink stations around the house to create flow and avoid bottlenecks.
Patricia with Southern Charm co-star Cameran Eubanks and her husband, Jason Wimberly.
Patricia never uses paper napkins, linen is a must.
Limit kitsch by investing in quality linens. She purchased these from Leron over a decade ago.
Patricia purchased her antique figurines from the estate of John Hay Whitney through Sotheby's in 1999.
The jockey-embellished plates are from Horse and Hound.
Tea sandwiches prepared with pimento cheese (a Southern specialty) and shrimp paste are perfect "one-bite appetizers."
Equine-themed chocolates are from Christophe's, a Belgian chocolatier in Charleston.
Patricia makes sugar cookies shaped like horses and horseshoes for good luck. "I have little bags of them at the front door for people to take when the leave, and I'll have a big platter of them at one of the stations." Horse shaped cookie cutters can be purchased from Sur La Table.
Millhouse the horse transports guests to her Charleston home.
Michael Kelcourse, one of Patricia's butlers, serves mint juleps to guests.
Next year, I think I will throw a Kentucky Derby party, and these tips will definitely come in handy! Thank you, Patricia!! Tune in to Southern Charm on Monday for a glimpse of the tres elegant and glamorous Patricia Altschul in all her glory. And to read more of her Derby party tips, please visit the New York Post.