This Saturday marks the return of the Kentucky Derby, and while Brooklyn’s no Churchill Downs, the borough’s fairly into feting things like fast horses, fancy hats and Southern cocktails. My one-and-only horse race experience was one blessed beer-soaked day at Preakness, and there was way more Budweiser-induced grass-vomiting than mint julep-swilling, but, hey, things are a little less hoity-toity in Baltimore. It seems like Brooklyn’s day at the races will be a happy medium between the two, here are some events to check out around town:
If you’ve got cash to burn (betting big this year?) Brooklyn’s main Derby Day event, the Brooklyn Derby, will be going down at Greenwood Park (555 7th Ave, South Slope) Expect the whole nine yards —- Maker’s Mark mint juleps, southern snacks and live music from bands like bluegrassers Kings and jazz band Dewdrop Society. The event kicks off at 4pm, the race is at 6:24 and there’s an open bar until 8. In addition to the horse race, there will be a tricycle race (yes, that), corn toss games and, naturally, a station where you can make your own fancy hat. Tickets are $77, so you better be feeling lucky if you’re attending this one.
For the rest of us poor folk, the Bell House (149 7th Street, Gowanus) is throwing a Derby party that’s just $10 to attend. Starting at 1 p.m., there will be square-dancing, hat-buying from milliners La China Loca, Southern-style music, Kentucky-style beer cheese courtesy Brooklyn bar Floyd Eats, karaoke and a best-dressed/best-hat contest complete with prizes.
Union Hall (702 Union Street, Park Slope) is running its own Derby party, also starring Kentucky-style beer cheese from Floyd Eats. Competition! Plus, there will be a corn hole toss, cookout, raffle prizes and big screen TVs airing all the festivities at Churchill Downs. Fun starts at 1pm, and the event is totally free to attend.
Williamsburg is jam packed full of derby fever. Maison Premiere (298 Bedford Avenue) will be hosting a Derby party as well, kicking off at 2pm and complete with schmancy $9 Mint Juleps, bourbon-cured ham sandwiches, strawberry shortcake, live music and a dapper derby-wear contest with a $100 gift certificate prize. Elsewhere in Williamsburg, Videology (308 Bedford Avenue) is showing the race on their big screen in the back, and will offer $6 mint juleps, in addition to plenty of chocolate bourbon pecan pie. Pete’s Candy Store (709 Lorimer Street) is going wild, with a derby day party that will feature a ladies’ hat competition with bar tabs as prizes, gambling and the Bluegrass Blue-Plate Special: a food deal with ribs, potato salad, and pie. And last but not least, Brooklyn Stable in Williamsburg is hosting a dual Cinco de Mayo/Derby Day soiree, appropriately titled Derby de Mayo: it’s $10 to attend, and features drink specials (think margaritas-meet-mint-juleps), snacks and other holiday goodies from 2pm-9pm.