Have Your Most Epic Kentucky Derby Day Ever at These NYC Watering Holes

Gallop, don’t trot, to extend the most exciting two minutes in sports by several hours.

Photo by Sayaka Ueno

And we’re off…to the bar! New York may have the Belmont Stakes, but it can’t compete with the thoroughbred race that started it all: the Kentucky Derby. You may not remember the horses’ wild names (Country House, FTW!) after they zip across the finish line, but that doesn’t matter when you’re surrounded by big hats, fancy food, and fine liquor all day. Why settle for a poorly made mint julep at home when you can have your own Derby-inspired crawl around these neighborhoods?

Williamsburg + Greenpoint

Start at: Pie Corps for a prerace slice of its Derby Pie. Pecans, chocolate, and several splashes of bourbon—what’s not to love? 77 Driggs Avenue, Greenpoint

Proceed to: George + Jack’s Tap Room for an understated Derby viewing party with cheap frozen libations, free Old Bay popcorn, and cash prizes for the best dressed patrons (or dogs!). 103 Berry Street, Williamsburg

End at: Pete’s Candy Store, where Brooklyn’s porkpie–wearing dandies wean away from the juleps and horse racing with citrus-laced bourbon and tunes from local multi-instrumentalists inside the pocket-size bar-slash-performance space. 709 Lorimer Street, Williamsburg

kentucky derby parties
Photo courtesy of Pete’s Candy Store

East Village + Alphabet City

Start at: Bobwhite Supper Counter; you’ll need a lot of its Southern-style fried chicken thighs and buttery biscuits to soak up all the spirits coming your way. 94 Avenue C (between East 6th and 7th Streets), Alphabet City

kentucky derby parties
Photo courtesy of Jequrey Slaton

Proceed to: Saxon + Parole for live brass tunes, three types of mint juleps, and an all-you-can-eat-and-drink Derby affair. How much unlimited oysters, beef ribs, and top-shelf champagne can you handle? Now’s a good chance to find out. 316 Bowery (at Bleecker Street), East Village

End at: Mace for a sophisticated (yet still imbibed) comedown from the races—we’re talking herbaceous libations like cognac-splashed lavender shrubs and tea-infused shochu grass cordials. 505 East 12th Street (between Avenues A and B), Alphabet City

Photo courtesy of Mace

Vinegar Hill + Dumbo

Start at: Front General Store to upgrade your Derby-inspired frocks with antique accessories and vintage finds from the turn of the century. 143 Front Street, Dumbo

Proceed to: Smack Mellon’s jazzy soirée, where well-dressed dames and dashing dappers come for Mediterranean-inspired bar bites and leave with an original work from the nonprofit’s artist roster. 92 Plymouth Street, Dumbo

kentucky derby parties
Photo by Sayaka Ueno

End at: Kings County Distillery, where smooth barrel-strength bourbon and moonshine-spiked punch are readily poured inside converted 19th-century gatehouses. 299 Sands Street, Vinegar Hill

kentucky derby parties
Photo by Valery Rizzo/Courtesy of Kings Country Distillery


Start at: Hats by Bunn for last-minute, head-turning straw fedoras and skimmers from a beloved local hatmaker. 2283 Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard (between West 134th and 135th Streets)

Proceed to: Red Rooster for the 7th Annual Run for the Roses Gala, paying homage to the black jockeys and trainers integral to thoroughbred racing’s history. 310 Lenox Avenue (between West 125th and 126th Streets) 

kentucky derby parties
Photo courtesy of Red Rooster

End at: Ginny’s Supper Club, below Red Rooster, for a midnight set from jazz legend Avery Sharpe and a #HatsOnly experiencehosted by London-based cap curator La Touche, with hat customizations and specialty cocktails. 310 Lenox Avenue (between West 125th and 126th Streets)

kentucky derby parties
Photo courtesy of Avery Sharpe Trio/Facebook

Breaking news: Cinco de Mayo and Star Wars Day are also this weekend. Find additional inspo on the app to have the most epic weekend ever.