Black Eyed Susans And Blue Crabs Key To The Perfect Preakness Stakes Party

Written By T.J. McBride on May 17, 2023
Preakness Stakes party

On Saturday, May 20, the 148th running of the Preakness Stakes – the second leg of the Triple Crown – will take place in the state of Maryland once again; much to the delight of horse racing enthusiasts across the country.

Will Mage win the Preakness as he did the Kentucky Derby? He will definitely be considered one of the contenders. Could it be First Mission who takes home the victory? Could it be another underdog, considering that the last six winners of the Preakness Stakes have had double-digit odds? As usual, the field is wide open at the Preakness Stakes, and any horse could be the winner.

The Preakness Stakes is back in its original time slot of two weeks after the Kentucky Derby – the first leg of the Triple Crown – and with Triple Crown season comes the massive amounts of betting on horse racing, lots of big and flashy hats, and of course the parties to celebrate the occasion.

So, if you are unable to be one of the lucky few who heading to Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore to see the Preakness Stakes in person, what would it take to put together your own Preakness Stakes party?

What food should be served? What cocktails are essential for the event? What should hosts and guests wear to an at home Preakness party? Is this anything like the Kentucky Derby parties where people were specific hats?

We’ve got you covered.

Preakness Stakes party cocktails and mocktails that are essential

Just like the Kentucky Derby parties and their signature Woodford Reserve Classic Mint Julep, and the Belmont Stakes’ classic cocktail, the Belmont Jewel, there is an iconic Preakness Stakes party drink as well and it is known as the Black-Eyed Susan.

Named after the Maryland state flower, the drink itself is served in a tall and somewhat thin glass with ice, and is meant to be refreshing.

The ingredients and garnish can change depending on the variation of the Black-Eyed Susan that is being made, but the main flavor and make up of this drink evolves around orange juice and vodka. In some variations, there is a splash of rum or whiskey thrown into the concoction. Some other styles of a Black-Eyed Susan include pineapple juice or lime juice. Some recipes call for St. Germain or simple syrup or even include bitters. Regardless of its variation, this drink will always be known as the Black-Eyed Susan and will be intimately tied to the Preakness Stakes.

The recipe that has gained traction in this day and age is a bit more complicated than the original, but just as tasty if not even better.

To make this variation of the Black-Eyed Susan, one would use these ingredients:

  • One ounce bourbon whiskey
  • One ounce peach schnapps
  • One ounce vodka
  • Two ounces orange juice
  • 2 ounces sour mix
  • One orange slice and one cherry for garnish

To make this drink, put bourbon whiskey, peach schnapps, vodka, orange juice and sour mix into a shaker filled with ice and shake well. Then strain the drink over a tall glass with fresh ice before adding the cherry and orange slice as garnish.

Other drinks that tend to be served at Preakness Stakes parties are the Orange Crush, National Bohemian beer which is known as ‘Natty Boh’ in Baltimore, and for an alcohol free drink, the Salty Sage always is a good idea.

What food must be served at a true Preakness Stakes party?

Food for a Preakness Stakes party revolves around one specific food: blue crabs.

Using the meat from blue crabs, many who host Preakness Stakes parties will make crab dip and crab cakes. Bearing in mind that Maryland has fantastic seafood, it’s no surprise that crab is such a heavy influence on an extremely Maryland-focused event like the Preakness Stakes.

Crab dip is a heavy meld of creamy cheese, Old Bay Seasoning, blue crab meat and shredded cheddar cheese that gets baked all together in an oven. For a little bit of extra creaminess, many recipes – like the Old Bay recipe for crab dip – also use mayonnaise.

Crab cakes are usually standard at Preakness Stakes parties, as well, and are usually a crowd favorite. Using celery, eggs, mayonnaise, mustard, Old Bay Seasoning, parsley, salt, and Worcestershire all mixed together in a bowl, a sauce is made for the blue crab meat which gets tossed in after mixing with breadcrumbs. From there, all that is needed is to shape the crab meat into cakes and fry them up for a couple minutes. Voila, you have crab cakes for your Preakness Stakes party.

Beyond blue crab, there are other options such as fried chicken, Baltimore pit beef, and stuffed ham. For desert, a Smith Island cake is essential.

Preakness Stakes party fashion tips for those attending or hosting

Where the Kentucky Derby is almost a fashion show for those who attend the actual running of the even — which in turn influences at home Kentucky Derby parties to take fashion extremely seriously – Preakness Stakes parties are different.

The answer to how important fashion is for the Preakness Stakes compared to the Kentucky Derby will change depending on who you ask. Some feel that the Preakness Stakes is considered to be ‘the people’s race’ which allows for a more casual fashion requirement. But others will claim that the running of the Preakness Stakes is where people should push their outfits as far as they can go.

Ultimately, the best tip for fashion at the Preakness Stakes parties is to focus more heavily on the dress or suit being worn as opposed to prioritizing a derby hat or fascinator.

While accepted and encouraged, derby hats and fascinators do not carry the same weight at the Preakness as they do at the Derby. But regardless of the fashion tips being given, always remember that any leg of the Triple Crown is about showing off and showing out using accessories, outfits and hats. Take advantage of the setting and go big.

Of course, those hosting their own parties can make their own standards, but attending horse races of this stature has always been about showing up dressed to the 9s. Why not take advantage and pull out the best suit or dress you have?

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T.J. McBride

T.J. McBride is a writer and reporter based in Denver, Colorado who covers the Denver Nuggets as a beat writer. His byline can be found across many websites such as ESPN, FiveThirtyEight, Bleacher Report, and others.

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