Tomorrow is the Kentucky Derby, known as “the greatest two minutes in sports.” Atlanta restaurants have found a way to round-up the action happening 400 miles away at Churchill Downs by hosting their own derby gatherings, complete with mint juleps. But where did these Southern bourbon and mint cocktails gain their association with the Derby? Since 1938, Churchill Downs has promoted the mint julep, serving more than 120,000 over the two day period. We aren’t sure if any restaurant can top that count, but we can be certain you’ll find plenty of options to imbibe.
South City Kitchen
1675 Cumberland Parkway, Smyrna
Make the gallop OTP and corral in their bar area for the exclusive viewing party. Big hats and seersucker suits are encouraged, and the winners will be rewarded handsomely. Small bites will include Kentucky burgoo croquettes, pickled shrimp and Benedictine profiterole and pimento cheese, plus drink specials.
Time: 5 to 7 p.m.
Price: $25 per person
516 Grayson Highway, Grayson
Kentucky and bourbon- you can’t have one without the other. Beverage director Jeff Banks worked in the infield suites of the Kentucky Derby for two years, and he is whipping up mint juleps and bourbon cocktails in honor of the occasion. Try a glass of Woodford Reserve, the official drink of the Kentucky Derby.
Time: all day
The Oyster Bar at The Optimist
914 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta
Optimist’s oyster bar is going straight Kentucky bourbon, with $15 flights of three like Bulleit bourbon, rye and 10-year aged bourbon. Beverage director Eduardo Guzman and bourbon brand ambassadors will be there to talk at lengths about the bourbon roster.
Time: all day
The Family Dog
1402 North Highland Avenue, Atlanta
It pays to dress up at this shindig, where your first mint julep is on the house! The rest of the evening the classic Derby cocktail is $5. Plus the Founder’s Brewing Co. is taking over the tap, and a first place choice is sure to be the Kentucky Breakfast Stout.
Time: begins at 4 p.m.
W Atlanta – Buckhead, 3377 Peachtree Road NE, Atlanta
Besides checking out the race, Sweet Deat & The Revivalists will be performing live Southern swing at 4:30 p.m., breaking only during the Run for the Roses at 6:24 p.m. There is no cover and Cook Hall will offer three hours of validated valet parking for guests.
Time: begins at 4:30 p.m.
Meehan’s Public House- Atlantic Station
232 19th Street NW, Atlanta
Place your Bookie Bets here for a chance to win swag and VIP tickets to their cocktail party. Capped at just 20 people, the exclusive party will have Derby-themed food like Kentucky hog cakes. Tickets are $40 and include three drink coupons. The restaurant also has outdoor games and food and drink specials for everyone else. Those dressed in style will receive a five percent discount.
Time: all day
Price: VIP party $40
Southern Art Bourbon Bar
3315 Peachtree Road, Atlanta
Their terrace will be bustling for the inaugural Peachtree Downs party. Music by the Atlanta Bluegrass Trio, southern canapés like bourbon cured salmon and duck confit bites harness southern Kentucky charm and bring it to Buckhead.
Time: 3 to 7 p.m.
Price: $65 per person
- By Alexa Lampasona for the Food & More blog