Race Over to These 13 Derby Day Events

Place your bets on a good time at these metro Detroit celebrations


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Photograph by Joe Vaughn // Courtesy of Joebar

While the annual Kentucky Derby takes place roughly 375 miles south, some metro Detroit bars and restaurants are certainly getting into the racing spirit. Trot your way over to these events to sip on mint juleps, eat brunch, and watch the race on May 5. 


Derby Day at Joebar: Derby Day festivities will kick off at 2 p.m. until midnight at Hazel Park’s Joebar. The menu will include spiked sweet tea, mint juleps, Chef Courtney Witter’s Derby Pie, Hot Brown Sliders, and more. Dress in your best bow ties, seersucker suits, and derby hats for a chance to win prizes. Free.
Joebar, 23839 John R. Rd., Hazel Park; 248-291-5711; joebar.com

The Detroit Kentucky Derby Day Party: For its fourth year, The Circle Detroit will bring its annual Derby Day celebration to the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History. The event will feature a strolling dinner, traditional derby cocktails, live music, access to museum exhibits, and more. Ladies wear your best hats and gents wear your best suit for a chance to win a prize. Proceeds from the event benefit The Kappa Delta Foundation. $40.
Charles H. Wright Museum, 315 E. Warren Ave., Detroit; 313-494-5800; detroitkentuckyderby.com

Detroit-Style Derby Party: Atwater’s Detroit Tap House is celebrating the races with mint juleps made with their Circa Bourbon, on-tap beers, and food specials. Dress hats and dapper derby-wear are highly encouraged and earn patrons select $3 pints. Once the horses cross the finish line, Atwater will reward the best-dressed patron with a special prize package. Free.
Atwater Detroit Tap House, 237 Jos Campau, Detroit; 313-877-9205; atwaterbeer.com

Derby Day at Green Dot Stables: It’s no surprise that this equestrian-themed favorite will be celebrating the race. In partnership with Dark Horse Brewing Co., the event will feature games and prizes. Guests can enjoy watching the races, placing bets, drinking juleps, and, of course, eating sliders. Free.  
Green Dot Stables, 2200 W. Lafayette Blvd., Detroit; 313-962-5588; greendotstables.com

Hats Off to the “Kentucky Derby”: In honor of Derby Day, Birmingham’s Townsend Hotel will host a Kentucky Derby-inspired tea. Raise your pinkies, put on your best derby hat, and enjoy specialty teas and finger sandwiches. $40. May 5.
The Townsend Hotel, 100 Townsend St., Birmingham; 248-642-7900; townsendhotel.com

Derby de Mayo: Combining both Derby Day and Cinco de Mayo, the Hannan Cafe will host a pop-up dinner featuring a blend of Mexican and southern fares. Menu selections include Shrimp and Grits Vera Cruz, Bourbon Pecan Oxtails, and Marrón Caliente, a chili-laced version of a Kentucky Hot Brown. $25+.
The Hannan Cafe, 4750 Woodward Ave., Detroit; 313-833-1300; Tickets

Derby Watch Party: Prior to the race’s official starting time, 6:46 p.m., Sports & Social Detroit will host a Kentucky Derby-themed watch party, complete with mint julep specials. TVs will be turned on at 3 p.m., providing full coverage of the event. Before the big event, viewers can participate in the “Henry Street Derby,” featuring 10 horse and stick racers competing for a grand prize. Free. 
Sports & Social Detroit, 28 Henry St., Detroit; 313-782-4778; sportsandsocialdetroit.com

Woodford Reserve Derby Party: Get ready to race to The Skip in downtown for Woodford Reserve’s annual derby party. In addition to traditional juleps, The Skip will serve the classic cocktail frozen. Tickets include two cocktails, a souvenir mug, and appetizers. A portion of ticket sales will benefit Detroit Horse Power, a nonprofit dedicated to teaching children how to ride and care for horses. $25. 
The Skip, The Belt Alley, Detroit; theskipdetroit.com

Cinco de Derby Slushie Party: Batch Brewing Company will bring out the slushie machine for this double celebration. While screening the race, Batch will be serving themed specials, including smoked pulled lamb sandwiches, bread pudding, and shrimp and scallop ceviche. A special mint julep-inspired slushie will also be available. Free.
Batch Brewing Company, 1400 Porter St., Detroit; 313-338-8008; batchbrewingcompany.com

2nd Annual Derby Party: During Stache International’s annual Derby Party/Cinco de Mayo celebration, specials will include mint juleps, gin cocktails, and margarita bowls. Be sure to fill your pockets to partake in a game of “Crate-o-Crap,” a game that involves winning a collection of objects found in other attendees’ pockets and purses.
Stache International, 1416 E. Fischer Fwy., Detroit; 313-974-6895; stacheinternational.com

Derby for Kids: Children’s Hospital of Michigan Foundation and The Peacock Room will join together to host the second annual Derby for Kids fundraiser. Dress in your cocktail best and enjoy strolling dinner and desserts, silent auctions, and specialty cocktails. Proceeds will benefit pediatric cancer programs. $150+.
Country Club of Detroit, 220 Country Club Dr., Grosse Pointe Farms; 313-881-8000; memberplanet.com/chmfoundation

Derby Day Soiree: Nonprofit Ele’s Place hosts an inaugural “Southern Flair and Fare” soiree in celebration of the 144th Kentucky Derby. The dapper event will raise money for the nonprofit, which raises awareness for grieving kids and teens. Guests are encouraged to don their derby best for a chance to win the Best Hat and Best Dressed Gent contests. Activities include mock-betting, bourbon tasting, dancing, and more. $200+.
Earhart Manor, 4090 Geddes Rd., Ann Arbor; 734-929-6640; elesplace.org

Firebird Tavern: In honor of the Kentucky Derby, this Greektown bar will be serving a special barrel of Woodford Reserve, as well as specialty cocktails like the Bourbon Smash, a twist on the traditional mint julep made with Woodford Reserve, spiced pear, and ginger beer.
419 Monroe Ave., Detroit; 313-782-4189; firebirdtavern.com

 

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