10 Delicious Derby Day Parties
Few sporting events are more exhilarating than the Kentucky Derby (Saturday, 4pm EDT, NBC; post time is 6:24pm), but the so-called “greatest two minutes in sports” is much more than a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it horse race.
With eye-catching hats, dapper seersucker suits and Southern-style drinks and dishes, revelers can celebrate the “Run for the Roses” even if they can’t make it to Churchill Downs. Grab a mint julep at one of these parties, and you’ll be off to the races.
Wear a Derby-inspired hat and earn a $10 food/beverage credit at this all-day party (the best hat wins a cooking class for six with chef Gerald Sombright). The menu gets a Southern spin with dishes like fried chicken and oysters, while Kentucky-inspired drink specials include Bourbon flights (i.e., Four Roses, Bulleit and Woodford Reserve), $4 Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ales and $6 sparkling wines by the glass. Don’t miss a sip of PB&G Bourbon, which will debut on Derby Day in partnership with the Four Roses distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky.
Wine lovers can win big if they bet right at this casual bar/restaurant attached to popular steakhouse Smith & Wollensky. At the Grill’s “Double Down Derby Viewing Party,” each seated table can enter a guess on which horse will win the race, with lucky winners receiving a duplicate meal for free on their next visit (that includes any wine ordered, so go ahead and splurge on a bottle or two).
For $40 per person, guests can snack on comfort food fare like chicken fritters and waffles with Bourbon-maple glaze. Earn prizes for the best women’s Derby hat and best men’s “boulevardier” attire while enjoying cocktails that incorporate the distillery’s signature spirits. David Halliday & His Riverboat Hustlers will provide live music, and attendees can enter a “win, place, show” raffle.
The stone-walled Cave will offer a Triple Crown-themed drink menu during the Derby and the subsequent Preakness Stakes (May 16) and Belmont Stakes (June 6). Specialty drinks include the Triple Crown Bourbon Sour (incorporating the property’s own Bourbon blend), the Mount Julep (a twist on the minty classic) and a Run for the Roses Martini (it’s got a hint of rose).
This favorite Windy City barbeque joint is serving up a special $35 prix-fixe menu that includes dishes like Western Kentucky mutton barbecue, Southern-style sides and two juleps (a classic mint julep and a creative variation made with rum, Bourbon, pineapple and Fernet). Derby attire is encouraged, but large appetites are required.
Enjoy the race at this swanky rooftop restaurant perched high atop the Hotel Lincoln, boasting stunning skyline views. Its boozy bash comes complete with Bourbon, Derby-inspired décor and dance music spun by a live DJ. Specialty mint juleps will be served alongside bites created by Paul Virant. Don’t forget to wear a winning Derby outfit: the best dressed lady and gent will score prizes.
You don’t have to break the bank to get in on the Derby Day fun. Located downtown, specialty cocktails on tap here include a $6 Woodford Reserve mint julep punch and traditional “hot browns” for just $3 (that’s house-roasted turkey breast, smoked cheddar, applewood bacon and gravy atop a pretzel bun).
Cheer on your favorite thoroughbred in high style at this vintage mansion turned luxury hotel. View the Derby on the property’s lush garden terrace and enjoy Southern-inspired drinks and snacks like shrimp and grits, mini hot browns and mint-julep-glazed chicken from 3–7pm (cost is $25 per person).
The top floor of this three-story temple to whiskey (some 2,025 bottles are on display) will host its Derby Social. For $125 per person, guests can sip juleps made with Bulleit Bourbon, enjoy Kentucky-inspired cuisine and celebrate with a cigar in a designated lounge. Bonus: Nick Crutchfield, a Diageo Master of Whisky, will guide guests through spirited tastings. Downstairs, it’s a more laid-back affair: a free party goes from 4–7pm and includes drink specials (think juleps, punch and whiskey) and complimentary Southern snacks.
Inspired by the bars of Paris and New Orleans and blessed with a beautiful outdoor patio, this cocktail den is hosting its annual Derby party from 2–8pm. Harkening back to yesteryear, the bar will broadcast the race live via radio (yes, it’s still thrilling!). A special julep-themed menu will be offered, as will prizes for chic Derby outfits. Live music and oysters will keep the vibe festive long after the horses cross the finish line.
- 1Food-focused Affair
- 2Wine, Dine & Win
- 3Live Music & Libations
- 4Triple Crown Cocktails
- 5Barbecue & Bourbon
- 6Rooftop Race Party
- 7Derby on a Dime
- 8Garden Gathering
- 9Winning Whiskey
- 10Old Fashioned Fête