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The Kentucky Derby is this Saturday. Twelve-point-eight million people are expected to watch on TV. It's a good excuse to wear a big hat and have a party in five simple steps:

1. Set up a friendly betting game: It's always more fun to watch when you're pulling for a horse. Just put the numbers 1-20 in a hat. The number you pick is the gate number of your hose. If your crew hands to place more exacting bets, check out our guideto hedge your bets.

2. Mix up some mint juleps: The very first cocktail book published in the U.S. didn't call for burbon in a mint julep. It called for brandy and rum. See that original recipe, the classic Kentucky, and an alcohol-free version (which tastes nothing like a mint julep, but is still refreshing).

Original Mint Julep:
1 cup brandy
1 oz. rum
2.5 T water
1 T sugar
several mint sprigs
orange slice for garnish

Kentucky Classic:
3 oz. burbon
1 T sugar
1.5 oz. water
mint leaves
several mint sprigs for garnish

Non-Alcoholic Mint "Julep"
2 cups Non-flavored sparkling water (1 T separated for muddling)
1 T sugar
1 wedge lime
4-5 mint leaves

In all versions, muddle the mint with the water and the sugar. Add alcohol (or sparkling water). Use mint springs as garnish.

3. Hats, the bigger the better: According to the NPS Research Group, hats have become more popular over the last three years, with a 16% increase in sale to top $300 million. Hat retailers say 40% of their sales come in the days leading up to the Derby. Local costume, consignment, and Goodwill shops are a great last-minute inexpensive option.

4. Watch it live: NBC coverage starts at 4:00 Saturday. The race is expected to start at 6:24. Don't be late; it only lasts two minutes.

5. Party like your horse depends on it: If it all seems like too much work, check out one of these local public parties:

East Andrews The 56 East Room/ Improv
4:00-7:00
Hosted by UK alumni group (all derby fans welcome)
Cost: $35

Harper Station
Kentucky Derby buffet and mint juleps

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