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A dozen best bets for Derby Day in Chicago

Mint julep

The mint juleps will flow on Derby Day in Chicagoland.

Will it be Dialed In, Twice the Appeal or Stay Thirsty? We don’t have any tips on the horses, but we can give you some best bets for watching the 137th Kentucky Derby in Chicago on Saturday, May 7, and indulging in Southern-style food and drink. Get out your fanciest hat and go out to have a mint julep and see the Run for the Roses.

  1. 33 Club in Old Town offers $6 mint juleps and the horse race with full audio in the bar beginning at 5 p.m. No cover.
  2. Chicago q on the Gold Coast opens at 10 a.m. with specials all day including $5 mint juleps, $10 bourbon flights and Chef Lee Ann Whippen’s Southern specialties, such as deviled-egg flights featuring pork belly, horseradish dill and mustard with fried capers, $5.95; apple-smoked ham biscuit sliders with house-made mustard and ginger apricot chutney, $7.95; plus $5 Derby Pie. The best hat of the day will receive a $100 gift card and a gift basket of house-made sauces, rubs and pickles. No cover.
  3. Frontier in West Town opens at 11 a.m. to serve agave mint juleps and champagne cocktails for $6 each and country-fried steak for $10. Eleven 42-inch HD TVs and two 6-foot projectors will show the race. No cover.
  4. John Barleycorn in Schaumburg hosts a Derby viewing benefit for the Prairie Center Arts Foundation from 3:30 p.m. The Run for the Roses and lead-up interviews will be displayed on 35 high-definition flatscreens and a big projection TV. Partiers can indulge in a Churchill Downs-inspired buffet featuring bourbon-battered fried chicken with mashed potatoes, brown gravy and green beans, cheddar cheese and curly fries and more, plus mint juleps, 4 Rebels Vodka cocktails, beer and soft drinks. Giveaways include a best hat contest and raffles. Tickets: $30 in advance, $40 at the door.
  5. Lobby Lounge at Showplace Icon Theatre in the South Loop will offer a special julep made from Gentlemen Jack for $9 during its Derby viewing party. No cover.
  6. Luxbar on the Gold Coast will be serving such specials as $5 Maker’s Mark mint juleps and Kentucky creams, plus $5 chicken tenders, truffle fries, and steak-and-black bean chili. A best hat contest and other giveaways feature, too. No cover.
  7. The Pony in Lakeview hosts its annual Kentucky Derby party beginning at 11 a.m. Highlights include best dressed and best hat contests with $100 cash prizes; $5 Jim Beam, Makers Mark and Red Stag cocktails; $5 mint juleps, raffles and giveaways; a $10 Southern buffet featuring fried chicken, biscuits, mashed potatoes and more; and the race on overhead plasma TVs and tableside flatscreens. No cover.
  8. The Red Canary in River West starts its Derby Day Garden Party with Southern-inspired brunch at 10 a.m. and continues through the race, shown on outdoor flatscreens, and on till 3 a.m. $5 mint juleps and $3 beers also feature.
  9. Seasons Bar in Streeterville will show the race on flatscreens while serving mint juleps, Kentucky bourbon ice cream floats, a variety of straight Kentucky bourbons and a tasting menu offering bourbon barbecue pork ribs, bourbon-and-chili-braised duck sliders, blue-cheese tater tots and more ($20 or $35 with bourbon flight). No cover.
  10. South Branch Tavern and Grille in the Loop hosts a Derby Day benefit for the Friends of the Chicago River from 3 to 8 p.m. Kentucky bourbon, mint juleps and a buffet feature, along with prizes for best dressed and best hat and a raffle. Tickets: $12.
  11. Table fifty-two on the Gold Coast hosts a Derby Day viewing party beginning at 2 p.m. in its second floor dining room. Unlimited Angel’s Envy mint juleps pair with Chef Art Smith’s menu of Kentucky hot browns, aged country ham biscuits and burgoo, plus Pastry Chef Celeste Campise’s desserts, such as “Run for the Roses Pie” with chocolate and pecans. $125; reservations required.
  12. Tavern on Rush on the Gold Coast offers $5 juleps. Ladies in fancy hats will receive a free julep. No cover.