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Mint juleps at Joebar
Joe Vaughn

Where to Party on Kentucky Derby Day in Metro Detroit

Mint juleps, Derby pie, and beyond

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Mint juleps at Joebar
| Joe Vaughn

It’s time to don those seersucker suits and fascinators. Detroit may be more than 350 miles away from the horse racing, giant hat wearing, mint julep swigging action of the Kentucky Derby, but thanks to parties happening around town the city doesn’t feel far from Saturday's fanfare. Plenty of places throughout metro Detroit offer whiskey and bourbon, but which spots are serving a proper mint julep? Bonus if there’s hot browns, Derby pie, and prizes. With the Churchill Downs event falling on May 5 this year, many bars are combining Derby parties with Cinco de Mayo specials. Here now are some top spots to celebrate the 2018 race.

Have a favorite spot for mint juleps or a Derby party we should know about? Let readers know in the comments or drop a note at the tipline.

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Motor City Gas

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Royal Oak microdistillery Motor City Gas will be screening the big race at 6:30 p.m. and mixing plenty of mint juleps and moonshine margaritas in the interim. The doors open at 2 p.m.

Cellarmen's

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Cellarmen’s in Hazel Park is celebrating the Kentucky Derby with Bluegrass State-inspired brews including a Kentucky miel, a Woodford Reserve bourbon barrel-aged Derby pie braggot, and a Buffalo Trace bourbon barrel-aged cyser called the Princess Shelf Jockey.

The Hazel Park Raceway sadly shuttered this year, but the city’s bars are still celebrating horse racing’s most popular event. Neighborhood hotspot Joebar is tuning its TVs to the race on Saturday and serving themed food and drinks including mint juleps, spiked sweet tea, hot brown sliders, and Derby pie. Patrons who come dressed in their Derby best will receive prizes. The event runs from 2 p.m. to midnight.

Joe Vaughn/Joebar [Official photo]

Thomas Magee's Sporting House

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Don an audacious Derby hat and hit the sports (and whiskey) bar after Saturday market. Thomas Magee’s in Eastern Market kicks off its annual Kentucky Derby party at 3 p.m. with mint juleps, spiked sweet tea, and plenty of bourbon plus music from DJ Gary Chandler. Televisions will be tuned to the main event.

Firebird Tavern

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Firebird Tavern in Greektown has a love affair with Kentucky bourbon and scores its own special barrel of Woodford Reserve every year. Sip a bourbon cocktails while tuning in to the race.

Green Dot Stables

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Detroit’s very own horse racing-themed restaurant wouldn’t miss Derby Day. In honor of the big race, Green Dot is bringing in a live band and you better bet there will be TVs tuned to the action at Churchill Downs. Don’t forget to order a mint julep with a hot brown slider.

Batch Brewing Company

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Corktown’s Batch Brewing Company is shaking up its menu with Derby-themed specials like pecan custard bread pudding with bourbon chocolate ganache and a mint julep-inspired beer slushie. The brewery will be showing the race on a big screen.

The Skip

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Casual Belt Alley cocktail destination the Skip is mixing up frozen mint juleps made with Woodford Reserve bourbon for its annual Kentucky Derby Party. The event costs $25, which includes two Woodford cocktails plus appetizers and a julep mug. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Detroit Horse Power Charity, an organization that introduces horseback riding to urban youth.

Butter Run Saloon

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Butter Run Saloon is known for its wide selection of whiskeys, which makes a bourbon event like the Kentucky Derby a natural fit. On May 5, the bar will be screening the race and serving a special menu that includes Woodford Reserve mint juleps (and margarita specials). Butter Run will also be giving away prizes for the best fascinators.

Butter Run Saloon [Official photo]

Motor City Gas

Royal Oak microdistillery Motor City Gas will be screening the big race at 6:30 p.m. and mixing plenty of mint juleps and moonshine margaritas in the interim. The doors open at 2 p.m.

Cellarmen's

Cellarmen’s in Hazel Park is celebrating the Kentucky Derby with Bluegrass State-inspired brews including a Kentucky miel, a Woodford Reserve bourbon barrel-aged Derby pie braggot, and a Buffalo Trace bourbon barrel-aged cyser called the Princess Shelf Jockey.

Joebar

The Hazel Park Raceway sadly shuttered this year, but the city’s bars are still celebrating horse racing’s most popular event. Neighborhood hotspot Joebar is tuning its TVs to the race on Saturday and serving themed food and drinks including mint juleps, spiked sweet tea, hot brown sliders, and Derby pie. Patrons who come dressed in their Derby best will receive prizes. The event runs from 2 p.m. to midnight.

Joe Vaughn/Joebar [Official photo]

Thomas Magee's Sporting House

Don an audacious Derby hat and hit the sports (and whiskey) bar after Saturday market. Thomas Magee’s in Eastern Market kicks off its annual Kentucky Derby party at 3 p.m. with mint juleps, spiked sweet tea, and plenty of bourbon plus music from DJ Gary Chandler. Televisions will be tuned to the main event.

Firebird Tavern

Firebird Tavern in Greektown has a love affair with Kentucky bourbon and scores its own special barrel of Woodford Reserve every year. Sip a bourbon cocktails while tuning in to the race.

Green Dot Stables

Detroit’s very own horse racing-themed restaurant wouldn’t miss Derby Day. In honor of the big race, Green Dot is bringing in a live band and you better bet there will be TVs tuned to the action at Churchill Downs. Don’t forget to order a mint julep with a hot brown slider.

Batch Brewing Company

Corktown’s Batch Brewing Company is shaking up its menu with Derby-themed specials like pecan custard bread pudding with bourbon chocolate ganache and a mint julep-inspired beer slushie. The brewery will be showing the race on a big screen.

The Skip

Casual Belt Alley cocktail destination the Skip is mixing up frozen mint juleps made with Woodford Reserve bourbon for its annual Kentucky Derby Party. The event costs $25, which includes two Woodford cocktails plus appetizers and a julep mug. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Detroit Horse Power Charity, an organization that introduces horseback riding to urban youth.

Butter Run Saloon

Butter Run Saloon is known for its wide selection of whiskeys, which makes a bourbon event like the Kentucky Derby a natural fit. On May 5, the bar will be screening the race and serving a special menu that includes Woodford Reserve mint juleps (and margarita specials). Butter Run will also be giving away prizes for the best fascinators.

Butter Run Saloon [Official photo]

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