Now that warmer weather is making it bearable to spend time outdoors, you can enjoy Keeneland's beautiful setting by packing a Kentucky Proud tailgate to enjoy during a day at the races.
There are hundreds of delicious products, but here are a few suggestions:
■ Clearly, the drink of choice for a Keeneland tailgate is Kentucky bourbon. Do with it what you will: drink it straight up, on the rocks, with a splash of ginger ale or make a mint julep. Any way you drink it, you're saluting the commonwealth.
■ Other beverages you might consider are Ale-8-One, which is bottled in Winchester, and wines from one of the state's vineyards.
Appetizers and snacks
Of course, it's not good to drink too much without a little something to eat. Start with one of these:
■ Olivia's beer cheese, made by Olivia Swan and her family. In 2010, Swan and her father, Mike Hurter, entered the amateur competition at the Beer Cheese Festival in Winchester. They won.
They decided to turn their beer cheese into a marketable product, and the line now includes flavors with equine-inspired names. The bourbon and beer cheese is "I'll Have Another," after a Kentucky Derby winner, and the beer and whiskey-flavored spread is "Unbrydled." There's also a special "Wines on Vine" blend.
■ Lexington-made Screamin' Mimi's salsas — sweet hot, sweet hotter, sweet hottest — and tortilla chips, corn chips and garbanzo bean chips.
■ A tray of fresh veggies should also include some Kentucky cheeses from Kenny's Farmhouse Cheese of Austin. Selections include Gouda, Swiss, Colby, Asiago, Kentucky Bleu and Monterey Jack.
■ Fresh, creamy, spreadable chevre from producer Susan Miller, owner of Bleugrass Chevre Farmstead Goat Cheese in Fayette County, would pair nicely with fresh fruit. The cheese is sold in flavors that include garlic-chive, chipotle (smoky with a spicy-hot kick) and cracked black pepper.
Next, the entree.
■ Nothing says Kentucky Proud tailgating like country ham biscuits. You can find the country ham everywhere you turn in Kentucky.
■ As for biscuits, use Weisenberger Mill biscuit mix. Just add water or milk, and you have an authentic Kentucky biscuit made from flour milled in Scott County.
■ On those ham biscuits you can try Weisenberger Mill Wallace Station bourbon mustard by Nancy Ward, owner of Ward's Kentucky Specialties. She co-brands the product with Lexington chef Ouita Michel.
■ Barbecue is good for tailgating, and a number of Kentucky Proud sauces can enhance the smoked meat. Try Devil John Moonshine Barbecue Sauce by Barrel House Distilling Co., Kentucky's Smokin Grill Original BBQ Sauce — which comes in spicy, spicy honey mustard and "too hot for you" varieties — the sweet tomato-based sauce bottled by Moonlite Bar-B-Q in Owensboro.
■ Sides can include salads, deviled eggs, chips and a pickle-and-olive tray with Sweet Dillies Pickles from Crestwood.
For something sweet to finish the meal, there are, again, several options.
■ Try another tradition with Mom Blakeman's cream pulled candy of Lancaster.
■ Derby-Pie — available in the freezer section at groceries — from Kern's Kitchen in Louisville is a Kentucky tradition during racing season.