The Preakness Party: It's for Winners
By Derek Brown (Twitter: @NJDerek)
As the poet Andrew W.K. said, "something something (inaudible) doopa whoopa party." Those words apply as much to the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) today as when they were first written way back when. If you're like most people, odds are you aren't going to Baltimore to witness the race live on May 17. But since the Preakness is synonymous with parities, it is your obligation as a racing fan to recreate (most of) the experience at home.
A Preakness party bears little resemblance to the cocktail, anniversary, or birthday parties you might be used to (mostly because those tend to be awful, and the celebration of the middle jewel of racing's Triple Crown is quite the opposite). Whether it's your first time hosting or you're a Preakness party veteran, it's important to put the same emphasis on your food, beverages, and ambiance as you do your wagers.
The Food: Tradition Rules
Have some fun with your Preakness-themed menu. Curlin Fries, Tabasco Cats, or a big bowl of Chips Lang with Damascus Dip are always crowd-pleasers. If you really want to show off, serve your guests Scrappy Ts: chocolate-covered bacon woven into four-by-four inch squares and served on a Roomba.
The most popular sandwich is the Silver Charm, which is basically a Monte Cristo with a miniature horse charm hidden between the ham slices. If you're worried about lawsuits or performing the Heimlich maneuver, the sandwiches can be dipped in silver edible paint. Of course, where you go to buy edible paint is up to you and not something I'm experienced in or comfortable helping with.
While it's important for your party to tip its hand past champions, you've got to know when to draw the line. So no calling out to your guests, "who's hungry for some Snacklefords?!?" or "try a slice of Rachel Alexhamdra!"
Drinks: Mixing It Up
Feel free to put your own spin on the drink. At my house we plant a Black-Eyed Susan seed in a festive glass each spring and nourish its journey to flowerhood with sunlight, vodka, lime juice, and commercial fertilizer. Come Preakness Day, we have either a vodka-infused flower or a flower-infused vodka. Either way, it's simple and delicious.
In all likelihood, you've gotten a taste for bourbon after consuming mint juleps just two weeks earlier. In a way, racing fans are very similar to zombies in that bourbon is the life blood we need to survive. Bourbon fuels the luck of bettors. So if you consumed mint juleps during the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and did not cash any tickets, then the universe is sending a clear message that this warm, compassionate and caring elixir is not for you. Park yourself on the couch with a domestic light beer until your luck turns around.
Avoid the Infield
It's probably best to avoid music altogether so as not to even hint at an infield atmosphere. As host, you are obligated when the singing of "Maryland, My Maryland" begins to distract your guests by any means necessary. See, the song sounds an awful lot like one they probably know—and you simply cannot afford to have your entire party derailed by people singing traditional German folk Christmas carols. Those shenanigans may fly at an Ernst Anschϋtz party, but this is a Preakness party, man. Your Preakness party. You dictate the shenanigans.
Place Your Bets
And about those new shooters: the term sounds like recently licensed firearms enthusiasts, but in this context it represents horses that didn't run in the Kentucky Derby. So if a fellow guest even utters the words "new shooter" you are well within your right to mock them. Unlike the Derby, where anything can happen, typically very logical horses (see: the one that won two weeks ago) tend to win the Preakness. No need to over think your wagers, just Google Occam's razor and use that to filter out the contenders from the...sigh...new shooters.
Remember, Don't Forget the Crab Cakes
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