Eleven Madison Park
This annual event is already sold out, but if you're lucky enough to have scored tickets dust off your fancy clothes. Daniel Humm and Will Guidara will be serving up "Kentucky cuisine" with offerings like chicken and waffles, burgoo and Benedictine sandwiches. And of course the bourbon will be flowing. The race will be shown live (all 5-10 minutes of it), and there are even a few old-timey bands to fill in the rest of the time.
The Bell House
If Eleven Madison Park is the party for fancy people, the Bell House is the party for the rest of us. An all-day block party in Gowanus with BBQ (and Floyd's Beer Cheese!), square dancing, buglers and contests for Best Hat and Sharp Dressed Man. $10 will get you in to the fun, the juleps and the rest of it are all up to you.
Cocktail fans in the know, know about Julie Reiner's Derby Party at Clover Club in Carroll Gardens. With Bulleit Bourbon in the house the juleps will keep coming and fancy passed hors d'ouevres, so grab a table, order lots of deviled eggs and enjoy the race. You won't be out of place if you pull out your seersucker and your fancy hats.
Even though New Orleans isn't close to Louisville, the folks at Maison Premiere have been getting in on the Southern celebrations. They'll be serving Bourbon cured ham sandwiches, strawberry shortcakes and specially priced ($9) Four Roses juleps all day. These kids are so retro, they'll be tuning in to the Derby on the radio. And even if you can't make it on Derby Day, you can still get in on the fun. Post a photo of yourself in your Derby Day finest up until midnight the day before the race for a chance to win $100 gift certificate.
Park Avenue Spring
Mixed in with all these boozy, raucous parties, uptown at Park Avenue Spring they're doing things in a little more civilized way with a Derby themed, sit-down brunch for those of you who want to "pre-game." Guests can enjoy a prix-fixe brunch menu available for $45, with a cocktail included, appetizer, entree, dessert and race day line-up of the horses running. The menu from Chef Kevin Lasko plays off of classic Derby dish favorites, and features a first course of Benedictine sandwiches with asparagus and wasabi tobiko, followed by Kentucky Hot Browns with aged Gouda and Piquillo peppers. The cocktail offered will be “The Easy Goer”, featuring Blanton’s Bourbon, housemade peach iced tea syrup, Galliano, lemon juice and mint. For dessert James Beard Award-winning pastry chef Richard Leach has created the Pimm’s Cup Float.
And if just Mint Juleps are your thing, there are a few spots offering specially created cocktails and screening the race, but if you showed up dressed for the Derby, we're sure they wouldn't bat an eye. Try these spots:
The Windsor (both locations)
The Windsor will be celebrating the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby with a viewing party. Since bourbon is a necessary part of any Derby Day festivity, they will be offering drink specials like Georgia mint juleps and Mint chocolate chip bourbon shots for $12 each to get in the derby spirit.
At the newly opened Cole's Greenwich Village, Johnny Swet has created the Grumpy Old Man, a spicy twist on the classic mint julep, with bourbon, peppercorns, honey, mint and ginger ale ($14).
DBGB Kitchen & Bar is offering two refreshing Muddled Berry Juleps to celebrate the warm weather and the big race. Beverage director Kerrie O'Brien muddles mint and raspberries or blueberries and stirs in simple syrup, mint-infused bourbon and a splash of water. Chipped and crushed ice adds a bracing chill to the drink, perfect enjoyed out of a tulip glass on their outdoor patio.