The Kentucky Derby might be the most exciting two minutes in sports, but some of us want to celebrate it for a lot longer. If you have a hankering for mint juleps and can't make it out to Louisville this Saturday, May 2, there are plenty of L.A. restaurants and bars that are saluting the race with special cocktails, southern food and big hats.
Go for: Expanded happy hour
On Saturday, this tavern will be serving a variety of derby-day food along with their classic and cucumber mint juleps. If you're planning to watch the race with a group, celebrate with bellini and mimosa carafe specials while munching on ham and buttermilk jalepeno cheddar biscuits, house-made moon pies and fresh glazed donuts. 8384 W. 3rd St., West Hollywood; (323) 655-8384, the-churchill.com.
Franklin and Company
Go for: Miniature horse photos
The party starts at 11 a.m. with $5 mint juleps and themed drink specials. Ladies who arrive in extra-large derby bonnets will receive their first drink free. Gambling is encouraged and everybody wins because all proceeds will be donated to charity. For a timeless souvenir, you can also have your photo taken next to a real live miniature horse. 5923 Franklin Ave., Hollywood Hills; (323) 463-1552, franklinandcotavern.com.
Go for: Costume contests
The downtown whiskey bar is pulling out all the stops for the year's Kentucky Derby, since this weekend also happens to be the bar's eighth anniversary. Enjoy live music from Southern ragtime band The California Feet Warmers while sipping on a variety of $7 mint juleps, whiskey sours and old fashioneds. Upon entering the bar, each guest will receive a horse assignment with the winner receiving a complimentary mint julep after the race. Dress the part and enter to win the ladies' “festive hat” and men's “most dapper” contests. Doors open at noon. 515 W. 7th Street, downtown; (213) 614-0736, sevengrandbars.com.
The Chandelier Room at Santa Anita Park
Go for: Top chefs and a real racetrack
From 12 to 5 p.m. watch live thoroughbred racing while sipping champagne in the park's elegant Chandelier Room. Chefs Steve Samson of Sotto, Mike Khakina of Barrel & Ashes and Josh Drew of Picca will be cooking special menus paired with specialty cocktails by mixologist Julian Cox. Unlike other Kentucky Derby parties in town, the dress code at Santa Anita Park is not just for fun, it's required. No collared shirt or blazer? No Derby. 285 W. Huntington Drive, Arcadia; (626) 574-7223, santaanita.com; $85.