Your Guide to the Kentucky Derby 2016 in Washington DC:

Ah the Kentucky Derby, an annual excuse to drink for four hours to rev you up for a two minute event you may not even actually watch. Sounds like a perfect Saturday. Take a look at the best Kentucky Derby events in DC this year, along with a guide to where else you can get your mint julep game on these days. Plus, keep scrolling to the bottom of this story and you’ll find a selection of additional ways to get in on the fun for the Kentucky Derby, including special mint julep recipes and offerings.

DC’s Best Kentucky Derby Parties

Jack Rose

Jack Rose is going big for their 4th annual Kentucky Derby Celebration, lasting from 3 to 7pm. The rooftop terrace hosts the viewing party, with mint juleps, derby punches, Kentucky bourbon flights, and complimentary Southern bites such as Kentucky Hot Browns, and cucumber sandwiches.

If you’re in it for the beer and not the whiskey, then you’re still in luck with Jack Rose’s special collaboration with Flying Dog Brewery – The Kentucky Derby is Decadent and Depraved, in homage to Hunter S. Thompson and Ralph Steadman. That includes the brand new Flying Dog Mint Julep Ale, aged in Angel’s Envy bourbon barrels, along with several other special whiskey barrel aged beers which will also be available.

Southern Efficiency

southern efficiency derby daySouthern Efficiency is hosting their 3rd annual Derby Day bash. The festivities start officially at 2pm, and the bar will be showcasing mint juleps on tap as the main attraction.

To fill up your stomach, find their signature Rolled Oyster Hot Browns broiled up. They encourage everyone to dress the part, whether it’s with seersucker suits, big hats, or apparently, horse masks.


acadiana mint julepsAcadiana is hosting a Derby Day viewing party and celebration, with a lineup of special $5 Race Track Deals on food and drink. For the former, check out Hot Browns, Burgoo Stew and Derby Pie, and for the latter, Mint Juleps with Bulleit Bourbon.

In the house will be Nick Crutchfield, a Diageo Master of Whisky, offering bourbon samples. Best derby hats and bowties have a chance to nab some gift certificates as well.

Keep on coming back for additional themed celebrations at Acadiana for the Preakness on May 21st and Belmont Stakes on June 11th.

The Willard InterContinental

willard bonnets bowtiesThe Willard InterContinental hotel is hosting Bonnets & Bowties in its Willard Room. The event lasts from 4 to 7pm, and costs $99 per person.

Tickets include two Maker’s Mark Mint Juleps per person, along with an open beer and wine bar. There’s also a southern-centric food buffet, live jazz, casino games, and the all-important contest for the Best Derby Bonnet.

Reserve your spot by calling 202-942-7000.

Where Else to Drink Mint Juleps in DC

Those are our top DC party spots, but there are more places to drink mint juleps around town as well, including:

Bar Dupont

Bar Dupont Cocktail Class - Prep StationsBar Dupont has four new cocktails on the menu in time for race season. Choose from The Derby, with bourbon, sweet vermouth, orange curacao and lime; the Belmont Jewel with bourbon, lemonade and pomegranate juice; the Black Eyed Susan with vodka, bourbon, orange juice, lemon; and of course; the Mint Julep with bourbon, mint, and sugar. Specialty cocktails will be available all day during the Triple Crown races.

Of course, Bar Dupont can also help you with your own cocktail creation skills, too.

Occidental Grill

occidental frozen mint julepOccidental Grill has been celebrating its 110th anniversary all year, with special classic dishes and drinks showcased each month. In May, that drink will be a mint julep, however it’s been reinterpreted as a frozen drink.

Occidental’s frozen julep, crafted by bar manager Aubrey Walkins, will be available all throughout the month. Meanwhile, the featured classic dishes of the month will be Crab Louie and Trout Amandine.

Mint Julep Recipes & Offerings

Staying home to watch the Derby on the big screen? Or just looking for a few pointers on making great mint juleps? We have you covered there, too…

Glenfiddich Malt Julep

glenfiddich malt julepGlenfiddich 14 is finished in new charred American oak barrels. This imparts a range of more bourbon-esque characteristics to the Scotch, making it a perfect stand-in for bourbon in many cocktails, including the mint julep. Here, brand ambassador Struan Ralph created the Malt Julep in its place.


  • 2 parts Glenfiddich 14 Year Old
  • Bruised mint leaves
  • Simple syrup
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters

Build with crushed ice and garnish with mint sprigs in a traditional Julep cup.

Woodford Reserve’s $1,000 Mint Julep Cup

woodford reserve $1,000 mint julepThe Woodford Reserve $1,000 Mint Julep Cup is available for sale online from now through May 6th, benefiting the Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund. Woodford Reserve is the Official Bourbon of the Kentucky Derby, and this is the 11th year that the $1,000 Mint Julep Cups will be offered at the Derby.

The signature Mint Julep Cups were designed by Houston-based men’s shirt designer Hamilton Shirts and handcrafted at Louisville-based jeweler From the Vault. Each cup is presented in an oak box designed by Nashville woodworker Christian Fecht, and lined with a custom silk fabric also designed by Hamilton Shirts.

The Crafter’s Cups cost $1,000 each, and 90 are available. These individually numbered cups feature Hamilton’s classic plaid pattern, along with the 2016 Kentucky Derby date and Woodford Reserve logo, and is accompanied by a gold-plated sipping straw.

The Master’s Cups cost $2,500, and only 15 of them are available. These individually numbered, gold-plated cups feature Hamilton’s classic plaid pattern accented with diamonds, along with the 2016 Kentucky Derby date and Woodford Reserve logo and is accompanied by a silver sipping straw.

Fill them up with the official Woodford Reserve 2016 Kentucky Derby Mint Julep, created by Julie Renee Williams:


  • 2oz Woodford Reserve Distiller’s Select
  • .75oz Toasted Pecan Orgeat Syrup*
  • Fresh Mint
  • Caramelized pecan crumbles for garnish
  • Edible copper flakes

Rub fresh mint around julep cup. Combine ingredients with crushed ice and swizzle in glass. Add more crushed ice, garnish with mint bunch, caramelized pecan crumbles and edible copper flakes.

*To make toasted pecan orgeat, toast pecans, mix or muddle into small pieces and simmer on low heat to create a nut milk. Fine strain or use a nut milk bag to remove nut pieces, and add equal parts sugar to liquid.