Welcome to Derby day

On Saturday, May 4, the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby, known as the greatest two minutes in sports, took place at the Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Here is a list of places in Manhattan that hosted the infamous event.

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On Saturday, May 4, the 139th running of the Kentucky Derby, known as the greatest two minutes in sports, takes place at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. If you can’t attend one of the gala parties—whether the star-studded Julep or the epicurean Taste of the Derby—just don a brimmed hat or a dapper seersucker suit and hit one of these satellite gatherings in Manhattan.

eleven Madison Park
11 Madison Ave., 212-889-0905, elevenmadisonpark.com
Winning strategy: The most extravagant party, at $195 per person, this fête always sells out by mid-March. Included are an elaborate raw bar, appetizers like Kentucky biscuit sliders and hush puppies, fried chicken, burgoo, a candy bar, an ice cream cart, and a Nat Sherman cigar lounge on the patio, plus a hat shop on the premises.

Mad46 Rooftop Lounge
45 E. 46th St., 212-885-6095, mad46.com
Winning strategy: At this rooftop venue in the Roosevelt Hotel, 250 guests compete in contests for chicest lady, most polished gentleman, and the three most original derby hats. Prizes from a derby pool include cufflinks and golf bags, and participants enjoy mint juleps made with Woodford Reserve Bourbon, the same brand served in the VIP section at Churchill Downs.

Stone Rose Lounge
Time Warner Center, 10 Columbus Cir., 212-823-9770, gerberbars.com
Winning strategy:: The party features a Kentucky-inspired menu (honey ham biscuits, fried chicken, waffles, bourbon balls) and contests for best hat and best attire. A Dixie-style band plays as a warm-up to the derby screening on an 80-inch high-definition TV. If you’re particular about your mint julep, Maker’s Mark is the brand of choice here.

The Julep:
A Brief History

The cosmopolitan of the 19th century, the julep was originally quaffed more often in the populated, sophisticated North than in the South. The drink used to come garnished like a fruit salad, with lemon and orange wedges, apples, and cherries, and was typically made with rum or brandy, rather than whiskey or bourbon. Today a proper julep typically skips the fruit in favor of mint; a silver julep cup is the vessel of choice, as the packed ice forms a frost on the exterior and keeps the drink refreshingly cold.


Mint Julep

4 or 5 loose mint leaves
1 tsp. granulated sugar or
1 T simple syrup
Handful of crushed ice
2½ oz. Maker’s Mark bourbon
2 mint sprigs
Confectioners’ sugar (for dusting the mint garnish, optional)

Gently bruise the loose mint leaves in the bottom of a silver julep cup or highball glass and add sugar or simple syrup, plus a splash of water to dissolve the sugar. Remove the leaves. Add the crushed ice and 2 ounces of the bourbon while gently stirring, until the outside of the glass begins to frost. Top off with a bit more crushed ice and add the remaining bourbon. Garnish with the mint sprigs and dust them lightly with confectioners’ sugar.


Recipe courtesy of Dale DeGroff, author of The Essential Cocktail