Fast horses, iced bourbon, and fancy crowns: Celebrating the Kentucky Derby with a Derby Day party is a proud Southern tradition. And the traditions surrounding the parties are almost more important than the actual Run for the Roses — there WILL be mint juleps, and there WILL be ladies in big hats. (And guys, a nice bowtie or a seersucker suit isn't the worst idea either.)
This year, horses start running at Churchill Downs at 6:24 p.m. Saturday, but TV coverage of the race runs from 4-7:30 p.m. on NBC.
Here's a list of Derby Day parties around town this weekend where you can show off your hat and/or bourbon absorption skills. Remember, wagering is illegal (wink, nudge) – and so is drunk driving, so call for a Lyft or something if you get sloshed.
Kentucky Derby Day
5-9 p.m. Saturday, May 2
Soco Thornton Park
The first julep is free for guests in hats. Soco's bartenders will serve twists on the traditional cocktail, including a chocolate mint julep.
Jockeys and Juleps
noon-8 p.m. Saturday, May 2
PB&G, Four Seasons Resort
Watch the race at this platform restaurant suspended over a lake while tasting bourbon flights and traditional Southern dishes like Hot Brown sandwiches and burgoo.
Kentucky Derby Garden Party and Hat Contest
4-8 p.m. Saturday, May 2
Palmetto Avenue Courtyard, Sanford
Coffee from Rabbitfoot Records and hand-crafted marshmallows from Wondermade pop up alongside mint juleps from the Imperial and craft-beer tastings from local brewers. Snap a #SanfordSelfie
to show off your Derby style.
2015 Derby Gala
3 p.m. Saturday, May 2
The Alfond Inn
The Central Florida Women's League hosts a party with cocktails, heavy hors d'oeuvres, and race viewing, with an after-party on the Alfond Inn pool deck. Derby-inspired attire requested.
Ravenous Pig Roast
11:30 a.m.-2 p.m. Saturday, May 2
The Ravenous Pig
RavPig's traditional monthly roast returns with a prix-fixe menu of barbecued pork, Andouille sausage, braised black-eyed peas, bacon collard greens, cornbread and peanut butter-rhubarb crumb cake, plus a mint julep punch in honor of the day.
3rd Annual Derby Day Party
3 p.m.-close Saturday, May 2
Saddle Up All American Bar
Games, prizes, costume contest.
Derby Day Bash 2015
Saturday, May 2
Johnny's Other Side
Watch the race, sip mint juleps and show off your Derby hat.
Derby on Park
4-8 p.m. Saturday, May 2
Winter Park Country Club
Signature cocktails, barbecue from 4 Rivers Smokehouse, costume contests and live broadcast of the race all feature at this swanky Derby party.