Where to Find 2019 Kentucky Derby Parties in Houston
May 4, the first Saturday of the month, is almost here and that means plenty of Houston restaurants and bars are breaking out the bourbon and serving Mint Juleps for Kentucky Derby parties. Here’s a list of the best events around the city.
B.B. Lemon, 1809 Washington: It’s a Kentucky Derby Party on the Patio at B.B. Lemon. From 2 to 6 p.m., attendees can enjoy a Derby-inspired menu with cocktails featuring Elijah Craig bourbon. There will be a hat contest, yard games and a few other to-be-announced surprises. The race is being shown on screens inside and on the patio. Reservations are recommended and can be made by calling (713) 554-1809 or by booking on OpenTable.
Backstreet Cafe, 1103 S. Shepherd: Begin the race festivities early at Backstreet Cafe. On May 1, the restaurant is hosting a Kentucky Derby Garden Party & Bourbon Celebration. This $33-per-person event includes a julep reception with light bites, followed by Bourbon-Blazed Spiral-Cut ham paired with a flight of three Maker’s Mark bourbons and a choice of Chef Hugo Ortega’s Red Corn Enchiladas, Backstreet Cafe’s Pimiento Cheeseburger or Smoked Duck. Each entrée selection comes with a paired cocktail. You can purchase tickets online or by calling the restaurant at (713) 521-2239.
Bosscat Kitchen & Libations, 4310 Westheimer: It’s a patio party featuring (you guessed it) Maker’s Mark Mint Juleps. But don’t overlook the cocktail of the month: the Kentucky Orange Blossom made with Buffalo Trace bourbon, elderflower liqueur and orange. For more information, visit the restaurant’s Facebook page.
Goodnight Charlie’s, 2531 Kuester: The Montrose honky tonk is hosting an afternoon garden party from 2 to 6:30 p.m. For only $20, attendees will be treated to live bluegrass music. The race will be shown on the big screen and there will be a Best Hat Contest. Guests each receive his or her own Julep cup and complimentary Kentucky-inspired snacks. Purchase tickets online.
Julep, 1919 Washington: Alba Huerta’s nationally-acclaimed cocktail bar is hosting its 5th-annual Julep Derby Day party. With two screens featuring the race, spritz and mint julep bars, three cocktail bars and food from El Topo Truck and hot dogs from Riel Restaurant’s Ryan Lachaine, this year promises to be the bar’s biggest party yet. Huerta is procuring 5,000 flowers to commemorate the party’s five-year anniversary. Tickets are $15 and may be purchased online. The event is from 12 p.m. until race time at 5:50 p.m.
Kentucky Derby Block Party on 19th Street, 19th between Shepherd and Yale: The inaugural event is being hosted in partnership with Beam Suntory. Enjoy the Mint Julep Throw-down featuring a Strawberry Julep from Jubilee, Pineapple Julep Sangria from Emerson Rose, a classic Mint Julep from Mary & Moss and a Sweet Tea Julep from AG Antiques on West 19th. Harold’s Restaurant & Tap Room can be found at the Texas Republic Whiskey table and is serving not only classic mint juleps but also a fruity cocktail called the Oaks Lily made with Absolut Elyx vodka. Wear your biggest hats and southern-style fashion for Derby-inspired cocktails, shopping and a stroll down 19th Street. Harold’s is hosting the official watch party starting at 5 p.m, as well as a hat contest. Register to attend the free event online. (Samples and attendance are free; the cocktails are not.)
Ouisie’s Table, 3939 San Felipe: This elegant southern restaurant always has a good sense of fun, too. This year, Derby Day includes not only juleps and a flight featuring a trio of Kentucky bourbon but also a special themed dinner. Festivities start at the bar at 4:30 p.m. where the race is being shown. Following the race is the “Day at the Derby” dinner, a three-course meal with multiple choices of great Southern dishes. Each course comes with a drink pairing (and it’s a sucker bet that these feature bourbon). The dinner is $45 plus tax and gratuity. Reservations are encouraged and can be made online or call (713) 528-2264. (Fun fact: once an Ouisie’s customer tipped a server with a retired racehorse. Initially named Mailman Express, the horse was — of course — renamed to Tip.)
River Oaks District, 4444 Westheimer: The upscale shopping and dining center is hosting its inaugural Kentucky Derby party, “Derby at The District,” from 2 to 6 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to wear their best Derby styles for a hat contest, southern-inspired bites and an array of unique Mint Juleps from the various restaurants onsite. These include Le Colonial, Toulouse and Bisou. Baccarat is an official Kentucky Derby sponsor and the store at River Oaks District is auctioning off a set of Kentucky Derby Highball Collection glasses. Guests will leave with a swag bag from Diptyque and the newly launched Minthe fragrance line while supplies last.
The Rustic, 1836 Polk: Head to The Rustic at noon for its Talk Derby To Me party. Compete in a costume contest for Best Dressed Female, Male and Couple. Mint Juleps made with Woodford Reserve, lemon juice, mint and a dash of Ysabel Regina Brandy will be on special all day. Don’t forget to order a Kentucky Hot Brown sandwich: smoked turkey, bacon, beefsteak tomatoes, mornay sauce and cotija cheese served on grilled Texas toast.
May 4th is more than Derby Day — it’s also Star Wars Day. Are you working a little Han Solo or Princess Leia into your Derby decor? Here’s a tip: celebrate both holidays and head to Cane Rosso at 1835 North Shepherd before or after the race for its annual Star Wars-themed pizza party.
May the 4th be with you, and be sure to drink responsibly and bring a designated driver.
Josh Armendariz is Houston Food Finder’s lead freelance beer and cocktail writer. He can often be found on a stool at your favorite bar, sipping a hoppy craft beer and talking about the Astros with anyone who’ll lend an ear. Follow him on Instagram at @drinkwithjosh.
Disclosure: Harold’s and Cane Rosso are currently Houston Food Finder sponsors — which is how we are able to bring articles like this to you.