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What Are the Best Places to Celebrate the Kentucky Derby in NYC?

April 23, 2019 - by Regina Molaro
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Although Louisville will be the setting of the annual Kentucky Derby horse race held on Saturday, May 4th, many of New York City’s style-savvy restaurants and bars (including rooftop venues) will be hosting fêtes. You’re invited! Many venues will be offering their own versions of the mint julep—a refreshing cocktail made with bourbon, mint, and sugar syrup. It’s the traditional beverage of the Derby. Spend the day sipping in style while indulging in delicious fare with other Derby fans. In true Kentucky Derby fashion, many venues are hosting contests, so be sure to dress for success. 

Kentucky Derby NYC: Ascent Lounge 

Ascent Lounge

Get decked out for Derby Day and be seen at the ultra-sleek Ascent Lounge at The Shops at Columbus Circle. On May 4th, from 3 to 7 p.m., Derby Day revelers can enjoy a premium open bar and Derby-themed bites. The exciting races will be live streamed at this posh bash, which is set in an intimate space that is accented with pops of red furniture. Everyone’s a winner at the Ascent’s betting station—all proceeds benefit the Children's Specialized Hospital. Dress to impress. Prizes will be awarded to revelers who are decked out in the most impressive, elaborate, and debonair wares. For tickets, visit The Shops at Columbus Circle, 4th fl., 10 Columbus Circle, 212-823-9770,

Kentucky Derby NYC: The Crown Derby's Party at Hotel 50 Bowery

The Crown Derby Party at Hotel 50 Bowery

Kentucky Derby enthusiasts are invited to The Crown’s Derby Party, which will be held at the chic rooftop venue atop Hotel 50 Bowery. Spend your afternoon nibbling on delicious bites from the venue’s newly launched food menu and sipping mint juleps by Woodford Reserve. Other refreshing drinks will be available from Veuve Cliquot, Angry Orchard Rose, and Hampton Water Rose. The party kicks off at 2pm on May 4th. RSVP at, 50 Bowery, 212-508-8000,

Kentucky Derby NYC: David Burke Tavern

julep kneeland drink specials david burke

The all-new David Burke Tavern is a modern American restaurant by award-winning celebrity chef David Burke. A stately townhouse setting showcases Burke’s creative, contemporary approach to classic fare—often with show-stopping presentations. For Derby Day this year, leave your hat on for a Bar/Lounge special with bar and happy hour menus, plus food and drink specials (served Friday 2-8pm and Saturday 4-8pm). The Kentucky Oaks race (Friday, arrive at 2pm) and Kentucky Derby (Saturday, arrive at 4pm) will be shown on two large-screen TVs. For drinks, look for Burke's sophisticated touch on a Keeneland Breeze (Maker’s Mark Bourbon and orange Curaçao liqueur), a Woodford Reserve Mint Julep, and a grapefruit julep with Ketel One vodka, pomegranate, and honey. On the food side, you can expect Northern Kentucky ham and cheddar biscuits. 135 E. 62nd St., 212-988-9021,

Kentucky Derby NYC: Dear Irving on Hudson

half moon fix dear irving hudson derby
Photo: Noah Fecks.

Dear Irving on Hudson's Bar Director and Partner, Meaghan Dorman, created the Half Moon Fix for Kentuck Derby-goers who find the traditional mint julep—made mostly of spirits—too potent for their preferences. Her solution: instead of using mint, the mixologist opted for a citrus and baking spice element by using blood orange cordial and Mr. Katz' Rock & Rye instead of sugar. "It's a great option for people that want more of a mixed drink," says Dorman. Boasting James Bond and Art Deco themes, Dear Irving on Hudson, located in the Aliz Hotel Times Square, entices the style savvy with its innovative cocktails and spectacular views. 310 W. 40th St.,

Kentucky Derby NYC: Flatiron Hall

interior flatiron bar nyc

Flatiron Hall holds down a roomy space in a great central location, with fantastic beers and the food to match. Come Derby Day, all screens will be tuned to the 145th Running of the Roses, plus a live DJ spinning your favorite tunes. Don't miss a race day special: a FREE shot of Jim Beam Kentucky Fire with the purchase of any mug of beer. 38 W. 26th St., 646-790-3200,

Kentucky Derby NYC: Pinch Chinese

Sommelier Miguel de Leon who doubles as General Manager of Pinch Chinese, is renowned for elevating classic cocktails to a level of perfection. Julep in Your Business is de Leon’s New York-style mint julep. The festive Kentucky Derby day cocktail is handcrafted with bourbon, homemade cardamom simple syrup, peach liqueur, and several dashes of peach bitters. It’ll certainly add a festive touch to the day’s festivities. 177 Prince St., 212-328-7880,

Kentucky Derby NYC: The Ribbon Midtown

The Ribbon

Come watch the race and sip on Derby-inspired cocktails at The Ribbon Midtown. No tickets required, but be sure to come dressed in your best Kentucky Derby-style outfit. The party will feature a DJ and four specialty cocktails: a Woodford Reserve Mint Julep, Keeneland Breeze, Derby Day Bloody Mary, and Watermelon Martini. Stop by for some festive and carefree fun! 220 W. 44th St., 212-944-2474, 

Kentucky Derby NYC: Social Drink & Food

Social Food & Drink

Social Drink & Food is hosting a festive Kentucky Derby Party on its colorful outdoor terrace overlooking Manhattan.The party, which is sponsored by Maker’s Mark, will be held on May 4 from 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Maker’s Mark mint juleps will keep the scene lively as fans catch the race on large flat screen TVs on the terrace. This rooftop derby party wouldn’t be complete without a festive hat competition, so patrons should come decked out in their finest. Prizes include a one-night getaway at Yotel Hotel and gift cards to Social& Drink & Food's  sister restaurant Green Fig. Budget conscious locals and tourists will embrace the bash’s complimentary admission. 570 Tenth Ave., 4th fl.,

Kentucky Derby NYC: Tanner Smith's

Tanner Smith's

Named for a historical New York gangster from the Prohibition Era, Tanner Smith’s is your subterranean speakeasy in Midtown West. You can order gastropub fare like lamb sliders and fish and chips, all served with warm Irish hospitality. Saturday, don't miss the Kentucky Derby Day Party. Starting at 4pm, you’ll find big hats and other Derby Day attire, a serious selection of bourbon, and a live bluegrass band playing until 7pm. 204 W. 55th St., 646-590-2034,

Kentucky Derby NYC: Virgil's Real BBQ

Virgil's The Triple Crown

Virgil's The Triple Crown.

Those who are looking to enjoy Derby day without a party scene can head to Virgil’s Real BBQ. Just for the occasion, Beverage Director Erin Ward crafted The Triple Crown, an aptly named cocktail that can be paired with delish barbecue dishes. The Triple Crown lives up to its lofty moniker. The invigorating blend calls for Old Forester Bourbon, Branca Menta, splashes of lemon juice and simple syrup, and a few dashes of Angostura bitters. A mint sprig is used as a garnish. 152 W. 44 St., 212-921-9494,

For more information about the Kentucky Derby in general, visit  Want free advice on what to do and see in New York? Join our Facebook group Everything to Do NYC, a place for people to ask questions and get tips on how to make the most of the city.

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