The 138th Kentucky Derby Day is upon us. And just as everyone is an honorary Irishman on St. Patrick's Day, Derby Day provides an opportunity for even the most blue-blooded Yankee to try on some Southern gentility. Because who doesn't swoon over lightning-fast horses with names like Daddy Nose Best, Sabercat and Bodemeister?
This Saturday, May 5, a handful of local venues will celebrate the event in floppy-bonnet and bow-tie style. Here are five ways to get in on the excitement without getting on a jet plane.
1. : The Southern-inspired restaurant will be hosting its first Derby Day Party on Saturday from 4:00 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Guests are encouraged to dress in their Derby finest—fedoras, fascinators, bow ties, and, of course, anything seersucker—with two $250 gift certificates to be awarded for Best Dressed.
In addition, has created a special Derby-themed menu featuring house-made pimiento cheese and potato chips, Kentucky Hot Brown Biscuits, Burgoo Stew and more.
"Burgoo Stew is one of those traditional stews that back in the day could have involved squirrels and raccoons, depending upon how poor you were," said Chef Newton. "We're going to do it with turkey legs, mirepoix, beans and a tomato base. Really, it can be whatever you want it to be. But what everyone agrees on is that it has to be thick enough for a spoon to stand up in it.
"I'm going to stay true to the integrity of the dish but put my own spin on it," he went on. "Same thing with the Hot Brown Biscuit. Usually Kentucky Hot Browns are served on toast. But my way of doing it will be a sexy biscuit busted in half and then topped with lightly brined turkey meat and our own creamy mornay sauce."
The comforting creations are a way for the restaurant to let its hair down for the day, giving customers some of the dishes they crave while they listen to the race over an antique radio—old-school style, the chef said.
"This is the time for us to celebrate and loosen up a little bit and hopefully it will be a tradition we can continue every year," said Chef Newton.
2. : For something even more un-buttoned, head over to Park Slope's Union Hall for $6 Maker's Mark Mint Juleps and various other Bourbon cocktails. Burgers and hotogs will be served off the grill. A corn-hole pit will be there for the tossing and the big race will be shown on the big screen.
3. : An all-day bonanza, The Bell House will be serving up Kentucky-fied fun from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. Entertainment will span from food by Urban Rustic and , $6 Maker's Mark Mint Juleps, hats from Brooklyn milliner La China Loca, square-dancing with David Harvey & NYC Barn Dance, a bugle march by Ryan Resky, the singing of "My Old Kentucky Home" by The Secret History, prizes for Best Formal Hat, Best Informal Hat, Sharp Dressed Man and runners up. Then, if you're not exhausted, watch those horses go!
4. : Like Seersucker, Char does not have a TV and prefers to host an annual Derby on The Radio party, "which is the more traditional, and for purists, arguably the more enjoyable way to experience the race," according to their site. Mint Juleps will be served all day and prizes will be awarded for choosing the winning horse.
5. Stay home and Skip the Social Stuff: Instead, pick up a bottle of Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon—one of the most famous horse-racing inspired bourbons—followed by a takeout order of 's signature fried chicken and sup by yourself while you watch the revelry onscreen from the comfort of your own couch.