Bacon Butties & Buck's Fizz for Boat Race Day

Get your friend's together for the Boat Race with a Bacon Buttie and Buck's Fizz party

Spring sees the annual Oxford vs Cambridge Boat Race and that can only mean one thing – bacon butties and bucks fizz!

Whether you live near the river or you’re getting ready to watch it live on TV – there is no denying that the annual Oxford vs Cambridge Boat Race is always an action-packed, adrenaline-fueled, fun and ferocious sporting event, making it the perfect excuse to get together with friends to watch the drama unfold!

First raced in 1829 and 1927 respectively, the newly termed Cancer Research UK Boat Races are amongst the oldest sporting events in the world. April 2017 will see the 163rd Boat Race and 72nd Women's Boat Race, which as of last year now both take place on the Championship Course (hurrah!).

The Championship Course, in case you were wondering, is 4 miles, 374 yards or 6.8 Km long and stretches between Putney and Mortlake on the River Thames in South West London. The crews who win the coin toss before the race choses which side (or station) they will race on; the stations are known as Middlesex and Surrey, with advantages and disadvantages for each side because of the bends in the river. The Races start downstream of Putney Bridge and passes under Hammersmith Bridge and Barnes Bridge before finishing just before Chiswick Bridge, and the record time over the course in The Boat Race is an impressive 16 minutes 19 seconds, set by Cambridge in 1998. Phew.

The teams compete in eight oared rowing boats, each steered by a cox who sits in back of the boat. There are a total of four crews as both universities have reserve crews; for the men, Oxford's reserve boat is called Isis, and Cambridge's is called Goldie and the women's reserve crews are known as Osiris (Oxford) and Blondie (Cambridge). The reserve crews row the same race half an hour before the main races, so you can watch these too as a warm up. This year, the main women’s race is due to start at 4.35pm and the men’s at 5.35pm, with live coverage of both on the BBC.

As it stands, Cambridge have won the Men’s Boat Race a total of 82 times versus Oxford’s 79 victories, and the Women’s Boat Race has also been won by Cambridge an impressive 41 times in comparison to Oxford’s 30 wins. So it could be anyone’s!

Watched by thousands along the banks of the Tideway and by millions more on TV around the world, The Boat Race is truly a unique sporting event and the perfect opportunity to entertain and what better way than to start the fun early and serve up a spread of buck's fizz and bacon butties to get the excitement flowing for Boat Race Day this year. 


Buck's Fizz 

No no, not the cheesy eighties pop group. I am afraid that there is no room for ‘Making Your Mind Up’ at this party. We are of course talking about the drink, named after London’s Buck's Club where it was invented as an excuse to start drinking early (sounds like my kinda bar…). A Buck's Fizz is a mixture of champagne and orange juice or, to be precise, two parts Champagne to one part orange juice.

It’s incredibly fresh, delicious and easy to make, and as it's not super strong is a great option for daytime drinking. The key to a good Buck’s Fizz lies in the quality of the orange juice so if you have the time, then nothing beats orange juice that has been freshly squeezed at home. Otherwise go for the best you can afford, you want the one with juicy bits for the best flavour and texture. 

When it comes to the fizz – a dry sparkling wine, cava or reasonably priced champagne is ideal like Sainsbury's Taste the Difference English Sparkling Brut, Surrey, England 2007 (£19.99, Sainsbury's). As you’re mixing it with orange juice you don’t want to waste vintage champagne on it, and Prosecco could make it too sweet. 

Bucks Fizz

Make sure that both the fizz and orange juice are chilled to perfection, and serve in champagne flutes. Just remember to give it a gentle stir before serving!

We love these elegant ‘Anna Champagne’ ribbed glasses by Sue Parkinson Home, perfect for showing off the vibrant colour of a Buck’s Fizz and not too pricey, meaning that any breakages wont break the bank.

For real wow factor opt for LSA’s stylish LULU glasses; each flute is mouthblown and handmade in one of four different sophisticated shapes.

SP Glasses

LSA Glasses 

Sue Parkinson Anna Champagne glasses are £2.75 each from Sue Parkinson Home or the LSA Champagne flutes are £40 for 4 assorted glasses from LSA.  

If you’re catering for a crowd then the joy of Buck’s Fizz is that you can mix up jugs of it to serve. The principles are the same; two parts fizz to one part orange juice, both chilled and stirred. These chunky glass jugs from House by John Lewis are perfect at just £10 each.  

Or for a touch of humour – we love New York fashionista Kate Spade’s ‘First Come First Served’ pitcher from John Lewis is fabulous at £40!

For a real showstopper however, you can’t go wrong with LSA’s handmade EDGE jug at £50. Part of their new collection, it is elevated by a disc of solid glass and edged with a band of rose gold for real understated Boat Race glamour.

LSA Kate Spade LSA Edge Jug

Bring On The Bacon 

If you’re providing booze throughout the day then it’s important that there is enough for your guests to have a second bacon sandwich if they need or want it – maybe even a third! Never underestimate how much bacon people can eat, so buy plenty; pick it up from your local butcher or mail order, or buy higher welfare, good quality bacon from the supermarket.

If you’re feeling creative in the kitchen and fancy really impressing your guests then why not pick up a pork belly and make your own bacon at home? Yes, I know that sounds crazy but with Ross & Ross’ homemade curing kit, it is in fact possible! The kit contains everything you need to make your own original, sweet and smoky cured bacon at home, such as curing bags, mixes, gloves, a butchers hook and instructions (thankfully!) - all you need to do is provide the pork!

Chef Ross has even put together a handy online tutorial video you can see here <iframe width="560" height="315" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/ly2h163Hf-Q" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>. 

Ross Ross

Kits start at £21, from Ross and Ross

If you can, cook your bacon in batches and keep warm in the oven – wait until you have enough to form an impressive pile before popping it all in a large pre-warmed dish and present in the middle of the table – so that your guests can all dig in a build their own sandwiches!

And for the vegetarians you could have some vegetarian bacon slices made by Quorn (yes it really does exist!) ready to be cooked up (in a separate pan, of course!) or some grilled halloumi also makes a great meat-alternative.

Use Your Loaf

Some like white, some prefer brown, so if you can then provide both. Pre sliced is obviously convenient and less messy but having fresh, whole loaves on the table look beautiful and the bread generally tastes better. Pop to your local bakers and grab a few loaves of each – as with the bacon always go for more than what you think you’ll need, just in case. You can also freeze bread if there’s lots leftover.

Gail’s Artisan Bakery has branches across the UK and their bread is also available to purchase on Ocado. Their white sourdough is beautiful and great for bacon sarnies!

Gails Bakery Bread


Serve It Up

Presentation is everything so set up your spread with a vareity of bread boards and bags with all of your different types of bread on show, with some sliced to get people started. The free for all buffet option is always more interactive and a fun way to display your table.

Bread On Cornishware

(Image from Cornishware)

Handmade in France, these beautiful leather strap bread boards from are Rowan & Wren are seriously cool and make a striking centerpiece on any Boat Race day table, or their linen bread bags are even more stuitaby stylish, so that your guests can choose their own loaf. 

Rowan Wren Bread Bag And Leather Strap Boards

Leather Strap bread boards start from £38 from Rowan and Wren and their Bread Bags from £11.  

Another fun table centerpiece is this bread bin with matching breadboard from Ella’s Kitchen, handmade and hand painted in Shropshire.

Don’t forget a good quality breadknife, but be sure to keep it out of the reach of little hands.


Butter Dish And Bread Bin

Ella's Kitchen Bread Bin £155. 

Red Or Brown 

The eternal question – ketchup or HP sauce? Make sure you provide plenty of both! Rather than having tacky plastic bottles on the table you could decant the sauces into Kilner jars and pop a teaspoon in each. It sounds like a faff but it will make your table look stylish and your guests will notice your efforts, plus once you’re done you can just pop their lids on and put them back in the fridge.

Kilner Jars

Kilner Jars are £10.19 for 3 x 500ml jars, from Lakeland

Make sure there is some butter on the table – this tongue-in-cheek Friesian cow butter dish by Country & Home at £23 is guaranteed to make your guests smile.

Or for design-chic then opt for this cool and contemporary enamel and wood butter dish from Grace & Glory at £20.

It doesn’t hurt to have a big bowl of salad on the table for those who feel like adding a bit of fresh green crunch to their sandwich. Rocket is normally a good one for this.

All The Blues 

The Oxford crews wear light blue and Cambridge are in dark blue, so channel this colour scheme when thinking about decoration and presentation for your party. You could even implement a dress code and ask your guests to come dresses in something blue!

Royal blue bunting is a classic and cheerful touch that will instantly add a splash of Boat Race brilliance to your home. We love the collections from Emma Bunting and this classic blue design from Bright Bird Bunting – see TOAST’s Little Black Book for more details.

 Bright Bird Bunting

When it comes to serveware – Cornishware is timelessly stylish and also perfect for the Boat Race blue theme. Their vast selection of blue and white striped tableware is gorgeous and makes any dish immediately Instagram ready! Fill their jugs with fresh flowers and pop on the table.


The Cornishware collection starts from £9 per item. 

Finally, don’t forget that bacon sandwich eating can be a messy affair, so have plenty of napkins to hand! These stripey blue ones from The Pretty Little Party Shop are perfect at just £3.69. Or for a touch of luxury these woven napkins from The White Company will add a splash nautical chic to any Boat Race Day bash!

The White Company

Napkins are £25 for 4, from The White Company. 

Now all there is to do is get yourself familiar with the course, pick your side and pop on the TV and start watching the build-up! 

Boat Race Course

Boat Race Girls Squad

For more catering ideas and suppliers for your Boat Race Bash, take a look at our Little Black Book for suppliers and TheEdit for some ideas.

Once you're set up, don’t forget to tag @ToastLifeUK in your Boat Race Day do – we would love to see your creations!


- Explore the vendors featured in this article -

Search our Little BLACK BOOK for hand-picked experts & suppliers