This Saturday is the 141st running of the Kentucky Derby, and there are probably that many varieties of the mint julep and parties to drink it at around town. Here are the ones that caught our eye.
You may be far from Churchill Downs, but that doesn’t mean you can’t drink like the fancy folks. Gaby Bar at the Sofitel (45 W. 44th St.) will be serving the race’s official cocktails, both made with Mumm sparkling wines ($18) on Friday and Saturday; make it a party with tea sandwiches and sliders ($17). On Saturday, place your bets; exacta winners will receive a bottle of G.H.Mumm Cordon Rouge.
Sweetwater Social (643 Broadway) will have several specialty drinks like a Frozen Julep ($10) and Winners Circle Punch ($8), or choose from two different bourbon flights ($25). The food specials will take their inspiration from the South, and there will be prizes for those who come dressed to impress. If you’re sticking around for the Mayweather-Pacquiao boxing match, $125 gets you into the VIP viewing party with a three-hour open bar, carving station and front-row seats.
If the day is just not the same without being at the track, head to Empire City Casino (810 Yonkers Ave., Yonkers, 914-457-2457), where Sports Illustrated cover girl Hannah Davis will be hosting the festivities, including judging the hat contest with a top prize of $500 (but all entrants get $10 to spend at the casino). Watch the race on screens set up on the apron of the racetrack while sipping your julep from the official Derby commemorative glass. They’re screening the boxing match too, with two areas to watch it with all-you-can-eat specials at each.
Beginning at noon, Stone Rose Lounge (10 Columbus Circle) has Bulleit Juleps and Derby-inspired bites by Porter House New York, but we’re really in it for the complimentary sparkling rosé for ladies in fancy hats and a photo booth with racing-themed props.
The Brits have been making a fuss about horse racing a lot longer than we have, but Pounds & Ounces (160 Eighth Ave.) is just getting into the excitement for the first time this year with a party beginning at 2 p.m. Watch the race on three large screens, wear your best hat for a chance at $500, and drink the Perfect Mint Julep made with Kentucky’s Woodford Reserve (there’s also Pub Ice Tea with Jack Daniels on tap). There’s even a special dessert: a brown butter and Woodford torte topped with mint gelato and candied pecans.
Keep the vibe authentic at the Bourbon & Bowties party at Memphis-style barbecue joint Southern Hospitality (645 Ninth Ave.), where a $20 cover includes a mint julep, food and contests, from betting on the ponies to best dressed. Win tickets to future races and celebrity-autographed swag.