Derby Day 2015: Where to Watch and Party in Washington

Saturday brings juleps, seersucker, and plenty of Derby pie to Washington bars and restaurants.

Bourbon, mint, a hint of sugar, and crushed ice make a classic julep at Acadiana. Photograph courtesy of Acadiana.

Odds are good that American Pharoah, running from post 18, will earn the garland of roses in tomorrow’s Kentucky Derby—and chances are even better that you’ll be able to find a mint julep in the hours leading up to the race.

For those new to the Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports: Horses will run one-and-one-quarter miles on Saturday at exactly 6:24 Eastern time. The race will be fast, men will wear seersucker and bowties, women will don big hats, and everyone will get rip-roaring drunk. The good news: you don’t have to be anywhere near Churchill Downs to follow suit. Washington restaurants and bars are pouring mint juleps, whipping up Hot Browns, slicing Derby pie, and serving other festive eats and drinks.


901 New York Ave., NW

The Louisiana classic kicks off its annual Triple Crown festivities by serving Hot Browns, burgoo stew, and derby pie, starting at 2. Wash it all down with Bulleit bourbon mint juleps, and dress your best for a chance to win a gift certificate. Prizes are going for Best DIY, Prettiest, and Craziest outfits.


613 Pennsylvania Ave., SE

For $12 you can get one of three different Maker’s Mark juleps: a house barrel-aged julep, an iced julep served like a Slushie, and a julep on tap, made with angostura and peach bitters. Hot Browns will also be served.


901 U St., NW

There’s no lack of celebration at this popular U Street pub, which combines a Derby party over three floors with Funk Parade festivities. A DJ, live band, drink specials, boozy cupcakes, and a Preakness ticket giveaway are all in the mix. Though genteel behavior is not guaranteed, derby attire is recommended.


Multiple locations

Have a classic julep ($7) out on the patio at the Dupont and Foggy Bottom locations while you pick over the and regular menu for bites.

Jack Rose Dining Saloon

2007 18th St., NW

One of the biggest derby parties goes down from 4 to 7 at this Adams Morgan whiskey bar, hosted by Southern lifestyle magazine Garden & Gun. The all-inclusive soiree on the rooftop terrace includes juleps and food, access to a cigar lounge, and music from Nashville duo Lindsay Ellyn and Taylor Alexander ($125 per person). The downstairs saloon will still be open to the public, serving juleps, whiskey, and punch. If you’re headed to the roof, make sure you wear your finest seersucker, bow tie, or hat; awards go to best in show. Buy tickets here.

Little Miss Whiskey’s Golden Dollar

1104 H St., NE

Tickets to this pork and whiskey-filled party are no longer available online, but $48 gets you everything but the juleps—including whole roast pig injected with a whiskey-apple-maple syrup sauce, peach bourbon-glazed ribs, and sausage. Great Divide Hercules, Jack’s Hard Cider, and Hellbender Southern Torrent Saison are on tap and part of the package; mint juleps will be on sale if you want something a little more classic.

Logan Tavern

1423 P St., NW

A special southern menu begins at 3 with fried green tomatoes, Hot Browns, and Derby pie. Cocktails, all for $8, include a mint julep, blackberry sage julep, peach tarragon julep, and black-eyed Susan, the official drink of the Preakness.

McClellan’s Retreat

2031 Florida Ave., NW

This DuPont speakeasy will be pouring juleps all day. Check it out if you’re looking for a more down-tempo Derby day.


1475 Pennsylvania Ave., NW

The patio at this downtown institution is serving juleps with a twist: Woodford Reserve bourbon and the usual mint, mixed with blood orange and lemon juice.

Harrison Smith

Harrison Smith (@harrisondsmith on Twitter) has contributed to the Washington Post and Chicago magazine. He can be reached at [email protected].