Break out the festive hats, it’s about time to bet on some horses and hit a fiesta. And a slew of venues all over the city are ready to accommodate your antics, whether you’re planning on donning a sombrero or a floppy bonnet, whether you’ll be drinking margaritas or mint juleps.
Here are the 10 best ways to celebrate Kentucky Derby Day, and the 10 best ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. That’s a total of 20 parties you can hit this weekend…and into next week.
ICE, 50 West 23rd Street, Friday, 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.
Kick off your Derby weekend tonight at the Institute for Culinary Education when you attend Bourbon Derby Dinner, an installation of the school’s supper club. ICE chefs will put together a five-course bourbon-inspired tasting menu with dishes like smoked consommé with sweetbreads, bourbon, and foie gras foam; butterfish, lobster, bourbon, and vanilla sabayon; and black cherry and bourbon clafoutis with pistachio ice cream. Each course comes with a paired bourbon cocktail. Derby attire is encouraged.
Wythe Cinema, 80 Wythe Avenue, Saturday, 5:30 p.m.
Catch the Derby on the big screen while you tuck into Southern bites from Reynard chef Sean Rembold, who happens to be a Louisville native. He’s serving pimento cheese sandwiches, cucumber benedictine, mini hot browns, pulled pork sliders, and bourbon chocolate pecan pie. After the race, catch a special screening of “Breadcrumb Trail,” a feature length documentary about ’90s underground band Slint. A Q&A with founding band members follows. Tickets are $18.
Sweetwater Social, 643 Broadway, 212-253-7467, Saturday, 2 to 7 p.m.
Drop into this bar for a derby viewing party, where you’ll find Sweetwater bartenders pouring Derby-themed drinks like bourbon flights, Derby Day punch, and mint juleps. Wear your best hat and fancy dress: There’s a best hat and best dressed contest, and prizes for picking the winning horses. And what’s the Kentucky Derby without spectacular attire, especially hats? Contests for best
Harding’s, 32 East 21st Street, 212-600-2105, Saturday, 3 to 7 p.m.
This Flatiron parlor of Americana will screen the race and host a variety of festivities surrounding the main event. Check out the photo both, specials on mint juleps and peach old fashioneds, and a collection of southern bites like fried green tomatoes, hot browns, and fried chicken. And don’t miss the large collection of Kentucky bourbon. Festive dress is recommended, and reservations are required.
The Third Man, 116 Avenue C, Saturday, 3 p.m.
This Alphabet City lounge will open early to host a screening of the Derby, during which it’ll offer specials on juleps. Pair your drink to Austrian-inspired small plates like a charcuterie platter with pork belly sauerkraut and grilled cheese made with aged Gruyere and served with pickled vegetables.
Distilled, 211 West Broadway, 212-601-9514, Saturday, 4 to 7 p.m. (Drink specials 3 to 8 p.m.)
Distilled will broadcast Derby coverage from 4 to 7 p.m., but it’ll get the party started early — and keep it running late — with a slew of Kentucky Derby drink specials, including the Derby shrub, Brown Derby, and mint julep. Derby attire is strongly encouraged.
Floyd Beer Cheese, 131 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, Saturday, 1 p.m.
Floyd’s Derby party is a tradition nine years in the making, and it returns this year with a screening of all the festivities, starting with the early 1 p.m. races. Score $6 juleps and free Kentucky beer cheese, and wear your best hat — you could take home a $100 prize.
Union Hall, 702 Union Street, Brooklyn, Saturday, 1 p.m.
This bar will also kick off festivities with the early races, and it’ll screen the Derby all day long on its main floor big screen. Sip $6 juleps, play a round of cornhole, and don’t forget your hat — if yours is best, you’ll win a hundred bucks. And don’t worry about missing out on any horse race action — a live bugler will call to post.
Maison Premiere, 298 Bedford Avenue, Brooklyn, 347-335-0446, Saturday, 2 to 8 p.m.
This Williamsburg oyster bar and absinthe house will celebrate the race with live music, Derby dish specials from the kitchen, and a special julep. You might consider getting here early: Entrance is free, and seating is on a first come, first served basis.
Maysville, 17 West 26th Street, 646-490-8240, Saturday, 3:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Book your Derby table at this whiskey-fueled Southern food haunt, where the $75 per person (excluding tax and gratuity) price gets you snacks like grits, deviled eggs, pulled pork sandwiches, spare ribs, and bread pudding plus classic mint juleps. Make reservations by calling the restaurant directly, or you can walk into the bar area for drinks and snacks.
Rosa Mexicano, multiple locations, Friday through Monday
Rosa Mexicano is celebrating Cinco de Mayo for five days straight. From now through May 4, you’re privy to a festive prix fixe dinner menu, and then on May 5, the restaurants will turn out holiday specials on drinks and food and host a party with a DJ and live mariachi band.
Taquitoria, 168 Ludlow Street, 212-780-0121, Friday through Monday
This take-out taquito parlor is celebrating Cinco de Mayo with a pair of special, well, taquitos: One is stuffed with tequila-braised pork and served with salsa verde; the other wraps grilled corn and cotija cheese. Pop in and get a boat of three or five, or order a box of 40 for a party.
Orale Mexican Kitchen, 768 Amsterdam Avenue, Friday through Monday
Orale kicks off a long weekend of festivities tonight with an all-night DJ’ed party, and keeps the party rolling into the weekend with a special prix fixe menu tomorrow and a festive brunch on Sunday. It’ll cap activities Monday night with a blow-out fete.
Gran Electrica, 5 Front Street, Brooklyn, Saturday through Monday
This Dumbo Mexican joint is hosting a weekend-long party featuring DJs and specials on margaritas. Stop in for a platter of tacos and plenty of tequila, and be sure to check out the back garden, which is an ideal place to be on a sunny spring day.
Gansevoort Park Rooftop at Gansevoort Park Avenue, 420 Park Avenue South, Monday, 5 to 10 p.m.
Check out this rooftop bar and sundeck come Monday, where you’ll find $6 margaritas and Corona drafts plus a mariachi band. Or, you know, spring for bottle service and buy yourself a bottle of Avión Silver for a whopping $200.
Salvation Taco, 145 East 39th Street, Monday, noon
The rooftop opens at noon at this hotel taqueria, and you’ll find food and drink specials on offer throughout the day, including pitchers of margaritas and pisco rose sangria. Downstairs in the main dining room, tuck into chicken tinga and chiles rellenos tamales, a carnitas trio platter paired to a can of Model, and frozen margaritas.
Hill Country Barbecue Market, 345 Adams Street, Brooklyn, 718-885-4608, Monday
The Brooklyn outpost of the Texas barbecue restaurant will celebrate the fifth by paying boozy homage to the Lockhart, Texas, Market with a margarita spiked with serrano pepper. Use it to wash down the chili nachos that’ll be on offer, and then move into the all-day happy hour, which features specials on Shiner draft beers, Lone Star, house wines, and house margaritas.
Louro, 142 West 10th Street, 212-206-0606, Monday, 5 p.m. to midnight
Chef David Santos has built a following for his cheeky Monday night dinners, and in celebration of Cinco de Mayo, he’s converting his restaurant into a pop-up taqueria, which will serve tacos, tequila, and margaritas. Santos’ tacos come topped with crispy pig’s ear, goat, lamb’s tongue, charred cactus, short rib, pork belly, roasted potato and onion, or rock shrimp, and you can pair them with classic, pomegranate, or jalapeño margaritas by the glass or pitcher.
Place to Beach, 1302 Boardwalk West, Brooklyn, Monday, noon
If you’re headed out to the beach for the holiday — perhaps to Coney Island? — check out this Mexican restaurant, where you’ll find a DJ and drink specials, including $5 frozen margaritas. Or purchase a $4 beach cup, and you’ll get $3 draft refills all day long.
Calexico, multiple locations, Monday through Friday
This taco chain wills stretch the holiday for a week via nightly taco and cocktail specials that change each day. Check out brand new dishes like a grilled fish taco, a roasted cauliflower taco, and a ground lamb taco plus a mezcal mule and multiple margaritas.