Derby Day 2014: Where to Watch and Party in Washington

Mint juleps, Southern eats, and, of course, the big race.

Photograph by Julie Vader/Shutterstock.

As if you needed another excuse to dress up and drink bourbon this weekend, the Kentucky Derby goes down on Saturday. Plenty of bars and restaurants are celebrating the “greatest two minutes in sports” with all-day (or at least hours-long) parties featuring free-flowing mint juleps, Southern food, contests, and a screening of the big race at 6:24. Just don’t forget your seersucker suit and lavish hat.


901 New York Ave., NW

Watch the race on Acadiana’s new patio and enjoy $5 race-day deals including hot browns, burgoo stew, Derby pie, and mint juleps. An expert from Bulleit Bourbon will be on hand for a tasting at 4. Also mark your calendar for the restaurant’s Preakness (May 17) and Belmont Stakes (June 7) parties—guests who attend all three Triple Crown events are entered to win free meals at the restaurant.


2321 18th St., NW

The Adams Morgan bar continues its longstanding tradition of Derby Day fun. The festivities begin early with brunch deals before the race and mint juleps and hors d’oeuvres later.

Bourbon Steak

2800 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

Sip mint julep spritzers at the Four Seasons steakhouse while watching the race on TVs set up on the outdoor patio bar. Dress to impress—guests with the best hats can win a bottle of the restaurant’s private-label bourbon or a free lunch for two.

The Brixton

901 U St., NW

Put on your best Southern attire and head to the Brixton for a party starting at 2, featuring $8 Bulleit juleps and $8 Ketel One lemonades. The race will play on the rooftop deck and in the second-floor lodge.

The Heights

3115 14th St., NW

Bourbon balls and Kentucky hot browns—baked open-face turkey-and-bacon sandwiches—are on the menu at the Columbia Heights restaurant all day, along with the obligatory mint juleps.

Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar

1104 H St., NE

Local drag legend Kristina Kelly serves as master of ceremonies at the H Street bar’s Derby Day bash, starting at 5. Compete in the costume contest to win such prizes as a Billy Dee Williams bobblehead, a PBR lunchbox, and a private party in Little Miss Whiskey’s Christmas Lounge. Food and drink are provided by the nearby Queen Vic and include bourbon-injected whole roast pig, pimiento mac and cheese, and mint juleps.

Logan Tavern

1423 P St., NW

The Logan Circle restaurant celebrates with Southern staples such as fried green tomatoes ($5) and ham and biscuits ($8), as well as $8 drinks including the traditional mint julep. Try the ginger Arnold Palmer, made with ginger lemonade and sweet-tea vodka, or the Oaks Lily, made with vodka and cranberry juice. For $15 you can try a flight of three Louisville bourbons: Bulleit, Basil Hayden’s, and Angel’s Envy.


555 Eighth St., NW

Break out the big hats and seersucker—Poste throws a Derby Day party from 3 to 7 with Southern cuisine, live bluegrass music, and a Wii horse-race tournament with the grand prize of an excursion to the Jim Beam estate. Try limited-edition Knob Creek barrel-aged Penn Quarter Porter from DC Brau—between mint juleps, of course. General admission is $75 and includes food, drink, games, and a souvenir glass. For $200, VIPs get access to the Maker’s Mark hand-dipping station and an exclusive Jim Beam tasting. A portion of the proceeds goes to Brainfood, a local youth-development nonprofit.

Round Robin (Willard InterContinental)

1401 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

The mint julep was introduced at the Round Robin in the 1800s, and this year the historic bar is hosting its 28th annual Bonnets and Bowties Kentucky Derby party from 3 to 6. For $80, guests can enjoy two cocktails, a Southern buffet, live music, prizes, and raffles.

Southern Efficiency

1841 Seventh St., NW

This down-home Shaw bar doesn’t have TVs, but you can still celebrate the race in style starting at 2 with mint juleps, hot browns, bourbon balls, and plenty of brown liquor.

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.