A sweet friend surprised me and a group of girlfriends with a Derby-week visit to the Backside at Churchill Downs on a beautiful spring morning, which is a super-special opportunity to see the stables and horses and all of the behind-the-scenes effort it takes to make the races happen. We had breakfast, sipped coffee, watched the horses have their baths, and then joined trainers, jockeys, owners, visitors, vets, and press as the Oaks and Derby horses had their early-morning workout on the track. It was truly magical, and I have a much deeper appreciation for the equestrian heritage for which the place I call home is known.
A highlight of the jewelry fun this Derby season was having my gorgeous friend Jackie Zykan, Master Taster for Old Forester, ask me to create some designs for her Derby-week looks as she made her press and event appearances on behalf of the delicious bourbon she helps craft.
Each look was inspired by a specific cocktail, and the first was for Thurby, whose official cocktail would be announced this year: the Old Forester Perfect Old Fashioned.
As Jackie mixed cocktails with wonderfully-talented musician Ben Sollee and interviewed with news media, I was settling into my seat at the track. I happened to glance up at the giant screen to see how much time I had to bet on the next race, and then this happened:
Y'all. I never really thought I'd care that much about a Jumbotron for any reason at all, but I have to say, it was kind of awesome to see Elva larger-than-life in front of thousands of people. And then I won $4 on the next race and bought myself a bottle of water. It was a big day.
Jackie's Derby-Day look was inspired by the Derby's iconic cocktail: the Mint Julep. What a delight to let such a legacy lead the design, including leaf-like minty mountain jade, opal, mint glass, and more of that honey-hued crystal to interpret the beverage's ingredients, and we went with brass accents, as the Old Forester version this year was served in a gold julep cup.