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Welcome to Kentucky Derby/Gold Cup weekend! This Saturday sees the return of those 2 extremely exciting moments of horsemanship and everything that goes with it:

  • overdosing on mint juleps
  • wearing ridiculous hats
  • overdosing on mint juleps
  • wearing ridiculous hats
  • and….overdosing on mint juleps

Luckily for you, we have been around the DC derby day block a few times. So, here is an amalgamed handy guide of new and previously published information which should help you get your DERBY ON the right way in the district: from great parties, to mint julep recipes to WHAT TO WEAR, we have you covered:

BEST PARTIES:

  • POSTE – Poste is going ALL OUT. Expect “a southern feast from Chef Dennis Marron and Mint Juleps on tap from Head Bartender Josh Berner, while jamming out to some local Bluegrass. On the upper deck Poste will host an entire afternoon of competitive Wii horse races. The ultimate winner will win the mother of all prizes, an overnight stay in the Booker T. Noe house on the Jim Beam estate with private tour of the Jim Beam American Stillhouse. We are also partnering with DC Brau to release, for one day only, a Knob Creek Barrel Aged Penn Quarter Porter. Derby attire is encouraged!General admission tickets are $75 and include all you can eat and drink, access to the racing games and a souvenir Derby glass.
  • SOUTHERN EFFICIENCY – MINT JULEPS ON TAP. I feel very confident that that is all information you need to know.
  • LITTLE MISS WHISKEY’S – What is the only thing better than a costume contest where you can win gift certificates to your favorite restaurants AND Billy Dee Williams bobblehead dolls? A costume contest judged by a drag queen Kristina Kelly. Also on the menu: Bulleit Bourbon Mint Juleps, Mint Julep Crunkcakes, BBQ prepared by Ryan Gordon of The Queen Vic (including bourbon injected whole roast pig and more. NO COVER CHARGE.

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  • BOURBON – Both the 18th street and the Glover Park locations are serving mint juleps in proper cups, and mini Kentucky hot browns. No cover at each.
  • RED DERBY – Kick things off with their Derby Day brunch feat. $3 mimosas and bloody marries (festive hats strongly encouraged) and then slide into a full day of $5 mint juleps while the race plays on the projection screens
  • BRIXTON – Is showing all the races all day long. There is a costume contest, plus $8 juleps and $5 beer specials all day long.
  • LOGAN TAVERNWashington Post has the scoop on the one Derby season cocktail you can get here but nowhere else: “The Mint Julep isn’t the only drink served at Churchill Downs: The Kentucky Oaks, an annual race for three-year-old fillies held the day before the Kentucky Derby, has its own cocktail, too. The Oaks Lily is basically a vodka and cranberry with sour mix and triple sec. The Lily will be on the menu at Logan Tavern’s Derby viewing party, alongside mint juleps and a ginger Arnold Palmer, for $8. Other menu items include ham and biscuits and fried green tomatoes ($5-$8), and a $15 bourbon sampler that includes Angel’s Envy, Basil Hayden’s and Bulleit.”
  • DRINK THE DISTRICT: DERBY DAYS – Unlimited Tastings of 75+ Beers & Wines, Vouchers good for (2) mint juleps, Unlimited full pours of 2 select wines and 2 select beers, access to DC food trucks, Lawn games (such as corn hole, giant jenga, bear pong & bocce), Prizes for best hat, best dress, and best guys outfit. More details here.

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NOW, NEXT YOU PROBABLY WANT TO KNOW WHAT TO WEAR, RIGHT?

Well, courtesy of these great stories we ran last year, here are some can’t miss picks by some of our favorite stylish ladies and gentlemen in town. Click here for the full MEN’S DERBY STYLE PIECE and here for the full WOMEN’S DERBY STYLE PIECE. Some choice options below:

Philip Soriano

— One half of our favorite fitting men’s shirt team around Hugh & Crye

Guys generally need an occasion or a reason to dress up. When thinking about what to wear, here are three looks based on which section your derby ticket is in.

  • LOOK #1

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The Turf Club – This private club for members only is open to guests on the big day. Derby day and oaks day are the only days guests are permitted inside. Naturally, the dress code is a little more classic – so, dressing accordingly is important. The emphasis is on fit here. Since keeping a classic color palette is important, why not stand out by having a more modern cut? Stick to the seersucker blazer and the straw boater, but feel free to pull out the tapered khakis or white pants sans socks.
  • LOOK #2

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look2
 The Club House – With comfortable seating and great views of the race, you’re in the (Mercedes) C-class of Kentucky Derby seating sections. Dress accordingly, but don’t be afraid to untie that bow tie if things heat up when “Charming Kitten” slips into 3rd place after you just doubled your bet. Keep it preppy, but young with blue suede bucks, a gingham shirt, and tapered blue chinos.
  • LOOK #3

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look3

The Grandstand – All bets are off here, literally. You’re own your own for betting, food, and drinks. The seating isn’t covered either. So, stay cool in a fitted, short-sleeve polo. Keep your feet comfortable (and dry from the spilled beer) in clean Nylites – those UofL guys will be shotgunning beers next to you. Round out the look by adding your favorite watch and sunglasses.”

 

Christylez Bacon

— Grammy-nominated Progressive Hip-Hop Artist and GQ’s next cover model (okay, so WE think anyway)…

 

  • LOOK #1

 

Overall Look #1 Sir & Madame • Weekender Bag 
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As a Southeast DC native, we don’t go the derbies often, but we do know a bit about stylin’ on bamas! :) Women often say “Men have it so easy with a plain shirt and some pants,” but it’s all about the accessories in my realm! With this classical/contemporary look, you can buy local with Hugh & Crye Shirtmakers for the striped banker’s collar shirt & a pocket square, go to H&M in Metro Center for the pants, vest, and blazer and save a buck! You can get a chestnut & white repetition going with the wingtips from Brooklyn Circus in NY and cop the Sir & Madame weekender bag in the same store… or online! Cause we’re rocking weekenders on the weekdays!
  • LOOK #2

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This is how I personally get down on the daily. Once again, it’s about rhythm and repetition with the red accents to make the eyes jump around. This is a technique that you don’t want to over-do, cause you’ll wind up looking like a southern pimp… no bueno! TheChristy’s hat with the stingy-brim is great for the season with a short Brooklyn Circus vest, Banana Republic chinos, Zara patent leather shoes, and a wooden watch. Yes, wood! Add some Royalties Paris socks with a ascot from locals, Ginger Root Designs, and you’ll have a retro yet contemporary look! …Afro grown separately.

 

  • LOOK #3

 

Overall Look #3

 

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This is a fly cat right here! The blazer and polo appears to be of the Ralph Lauren & Hilfiger variety, so they shouldn’t be hard to find. Slide down to H&M again for the pants and save your dough. Pair it with the plush Black Fleece woven belt, and some hybrid street oxfords from Zara. The adventurous blazer makes this whole outfit pop, but you still gotta put your own flava in there! In my case, a Ghurka bag and some H&M driving gloves that you can afford to get dirty messing around in these DC streets!

 

Morgan Hungerford West

The Editrix and Spiritual Czar of DC lifestyle magazine/blog PandaHead and all around Arts&Crafts Cutie (remember those French Embassy teepees?!)

True story: Morgan once bought a brown, polka-dot dress for the sole reason that Julia Roberts wore one in that Derby scene in Pretty Woman, but otherwise she’s in full support of weird-ing up a Derby Day outfit (as opposed to going full-on CLASSY LADY).
  • LOOK #1

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This is so fun (and it gives me ALL the good Pee-wee Herman vibes) – if it’s SPRING-CHILLY it’ll look great with a leather jacket thrown on top; if it’s warm just load up on turquoise rings. Either way: light-brown leather oxfords or ankle boot, and a neutral, brimmed hat with flowers stuck in the band (think: Rolling Thunder-era Dylan). (Dusen Dusen Fruit Stand Shift from Anthropologie)

 

 

  • LOOK #2

 

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I mean, lace is Derby-appropriate, right? Muck this up/dress this down with some moccasins, Ray-Bans, and a ratty, wide-brimmed straw hat and you and I are IN BUSINESS. (Black Dahlia Maxi-Dress from Free People)

 

  • LOOK #3 

 

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60s-sweet but still from Outer Space, this vintage treasure is insane in all the right ways. I don’t even know how I’d style this, but a black hat and some sort of avant garde-looking black bootie would probably be a good start…and WINEHOUSE EYELINER, FOR SURE. (Vintage 60′s Teal Garden Dress, from Sisters of the Black Moon)

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Rachel Cothran

Corcoran Gallery Girl, Project Beltway betty and  1/5 of our favorite pop-up shop, Butler + Claypool

  • LOOK #1

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“A big, bold hat is a Kentucky Derby tradition, with the sartorial competition arguably a sporting event in its own right. This one was made by one of my biggest girlcrushes, Brittany Watson, a grad of the interior design program at the Corcoran College of Art + Design. Hers is a riotous, exuberant celebration of spring and a nod to the Derby’s tradition of the Garland of Roses. I built the rest of the outfit around the hat, adding a white, ruffled dress and equally playful accessories like a wicker clutch and Charlotte Olympia’s Rose heeled sandals, which beg to be paired with this hat.” (Dress – Asos, Shoes – Rose by Charlotte Olympia, Clutch – Talbots, Insane Rose Headwear – The House That Lars Built)
  • LOOK #2
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“This look is inspired by twenties fashion. Spring and summer is a busy time of year, so we’d all be smart to buy things that serve multiple purposes. This dress–only $158 at Yoox–works for weddings and ‘The Great Gatsby’-themed parties. The cloche fulfills the hat requirement (yes, there is a hat requirement) but remains manageable after a few Mint Juleps.” (Dress – YOOX.com, Hat – Anthropologie, Shoes – ModCloth)
  • LOOK #3
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“An all-over floral dress is perfect for the Derby. Both the dress and hat feel very English.” (Hat – Etsy, Dress – Stella McCartney sold by Liberty UK, Sunglasses – Fred Flare, Wedges – Anthropologie)


Holley Simmons

Adorable Fashion and Dining editor at The Washington Post Express and FW plus BYT’s resident DIY Columnist!

 

  • LOOK #1:

 

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Since I could never suggest anyone wear seersucker or Lily Pulitzer in good conscience, this dress is a worthy compromise. Lightweight cotton is prettied up with bright bouquets of flowers. Add to it teardrop earrings by D.C. designer Beth Silverberg and an equestrian-themed hand mirror and you’ve got the right mix of preppy and edgy. (Dress – Anthropologie, Shoes – Rachel Zoe for Piperlime, Earrings – Jewlery by Beth Lauren, Compact – Moschitto)
  • LOOK #2
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You know Zelda Fitzgerald loved her a good old fashioned horse race. I image she’d wear something like this flowing floral number from the ’20s with a snug sequin hat. To keep things lady-like, throw on some lacy gloves, strands of pearls, and sparkly shoes. (Vintage Dress – Etsy, Sequined Turbin – Etsy, Lace Gloves – Etsy, Vintage Pearls – Etsy, Gold Heels – Etsy)
  • LOOK #3
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Derby parties are your chance to go overboard. To me, that means showing a little tummy and wearing a loud print skirt. And no Derby Day would be complete without a wide-brim hat so floppy it blocks your view. Because what else is there to look at, really, other than the julep in your hand? (Crop Top – Steven Alan, Maxi Skirt – Ralph Lauren/Etsy, Heeled Sandals – Zara, Floppy Hat – Rachel Zoe for Piperlime)

OR-OF COURSE, in case you’re partying at home MAKE YOUR OWN MINT JULEP: here are a few recipes from some of our favorite barmen around town:

Julep Under Flor
JP Fetherston
Rappahannock River Oysters / Southern Efficiency (which WILL be providing mint juleps on tap this Saturday) / Mockingbird Hill / Eat the Rich

The first thing JP stresses is that he’s not reinventing the wheel.

“To me, a Mint Julep is one of those drinks that’s already perfect. That’s why everybody loves it … My goal is to try and not mess with it too much.”

While Fetherston stresses his respect for the drink, what he doesn’t emphasize is his own creativity that shines through in his finished product. He’s managed somehow to create a julep that harkens back to a traditional recipe, though he skews untraditional in his addition of Gutierrez-Colosia sherry–he assures us he’s always got sherry on the brain at Rappahannock, . This addition keeps it drier than a normal Mint Julep, whereas Bourbon lightens the saltiness  of the drink and keeps the recipe closer to its roots. A bit of simple syrup and a pinch of maple syrup draw out the flavor of the barrels of both the bourbon and the sherry.  (Fetherson’s tip: maple compliments anything aged in a barrel.)

BYT Mint Julep Derby Day

As you’ll quickly learn, the first step in a julep is one of the most varied and nearly everyone has their own way of doing it; in fact it’s often the key aspect of variation from one bartender’s version to another’s. Once you’ve got your ingredients handy, it’s time to muddle.

Fetherston begins by adding sugar and fresh mint into a julep cup, then with a spoon, smoothing the mint into the glass. Another Fetherston secret? Using the spoon, coat the entire surface along the inside of the glass. This evenly disperses mint flavor throughout the drink. Discard the mint when you’re through, as it becomes bitter the longer it soaks.

Brightest Young Things Mint Julep Derby Day Stephanie Breijo2

Next, add ice to the bottom of the cup. Add sherry. Add bourbon. Add more ice and disperse/mix with a spoon, then add even more ice so you wind up with  a sort of sno cone effect–also traditional.

“You’ve got to go to town with the garnish,” he tells me. “It could be the most beautifully made mint julep in the world but if it’s got one measly little sprig out of the top, it’s not right. There’s nothing prettier than a mint julep.”

Julia Hurst
Hogo

Because Hogo is mostly a rum bar, Hurst opted for rum over the traditional bourbon and while she’s sticking to mint, you can expect syrup made with grapefruit peel and lemongrass (a nod to Hogo’s tiki roots). The peel is a refreshing take on the citrus used in tiki drinks and ingredients typically found in warm-weather cocktails, which also adds some levity and bitterness to offset the sweetness of the rum.

Brightest Young Things Mint Julep Derby Day Stephanie Breijo4To begin the syrup, the mixtress adds sugar, water, lemongrass and grapefruit peel to a boiling pot until the sugar dissolves. From there it sits for an hour or two, culminating in a thicker, more flavorful batch of sweetener. Hurst then strains it out and begins her muddling.

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Fairly traditional from here on out, she places mint leaves at the bottom of glass and muddles it with syrup, then adds rum. This gets topped with ice, stirred, and augmented with more ice for the standard mound. Hurst’s secret? She pauses to think and thoughtfully tells me not to muddle too much; there’s nothing worse than a bitter julep.

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Alex Bookless
The Passenger

At this point we’ve introduced sherry and the tropics (via pineapple and grapefruit rind) to our juleps. Alex Bookless of The Passenger, however, is taking us on a more herbal route. Using lavender sage syrup, she crafts a floral and vegetal concoction that’s both different and refreshing.

“I love things that are herbatious and felt lavendar really screamed the beginning of spring and hats and Derby Day.” We couldn’t agree more. Check out her recipe (below) for a springy take on the classic julep…

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For Syrup:

Boil 8 cups of water
Once it boils, add large one handful of both lavender and fresh sage
Add 1/4 cup of coriander
Take it down to a simmer
Add roughly 8 cups of sugar
When sugar dissolves, taste to see if you need or want to add more sugar
Strain it
Let it chill in the fridge

For Julep:

Crush your ice and keep it handy
Add 1 oz syrup and muddle with mint (leave mint in)
Add 2 oz bourbon
Mix
Add more ice
Mix
Add ice to be level with cup
Garnish with sage, mint and lavender
Shake powdered sugar over the top

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DRINK UP!

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