As Cinco de Mayo looms on the horizon of so many amateur drinkers this Sunday, you can rejoice that the weekend actually offers two pseudo-holidays permiting one to spend their afternoons in the blissful embrace of the bottle. Saturday, May 4, will see the 139th annual staging of The Kentucky Derby, a two-minute dash to the finish line that is as legendary for the spectacle of its Southern spectators and mint juleps as it is for any on-track action. So if slurping down sugary frozen margaritas aside wasted college kids in giant sombreros sounds more like a low-point than a good time, here are eight places celebrating The Derby in L.A.
Bludso’s Bar & Que: Hollywood’s new and improved take on Compton’s barbecue destination is opening at noon on Saturday and offering five-dollar mint juleps. May 4 will also mark the start of lunch service at Bludso’s, serving the same great menu of smoked meats, cocktails, and its crucial red velvet cake. 609 N. La Brea Ave. Hollywood; 323-936-0549.
Seven Grand: 213’s Downtown whiskey bar will be showing the races at its annual no-cover viewing party, sponsored by Woodford Reserve and Old Forester. In addition to its usual bar menu, expect nine-dollar Kentucky mint juleps and revelers wearing racing-appropriate attire. 515 W 7th St . Downtown; 213-614-0737.
Willie Jane: Govind Armstrong and Brad Johnson’s new Southern-slanted Abbot Kinney restaurant is also turning out freshly muddled juleps from 1:00 to 5:30 P.M., with the The “Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” showing on the bar’s TV. The bar menu will also feature dishes like Niman Ranch pig tails with wing sauce and biscuits with short ribs. 1031 Abbot Kinney Blvd. Venice; 310-392-2425.
Franklin & Co.: The Hollywood bar and restaurant will crack its doors at 11:00 A.M. for the races, enjoyed over a $15 barbecue that puts a main course (including smoked beef ribs and pulled pork sliders) with two sides and five-dollar mint juleps. Ladies in bonnets get their first drink free, while a horse will be on display for your Facebook photos and such. 5923 Franklin Ave. Hollywood; 323-463-1552.
Nineteen12 at The Beverly Hills Hotel: The hotel bar will hold a viewing party on Saturday featuring free whiskey tastings, appetizers themed- to the day, and Derby cocktails and dishes. Guests are encouraged to wear their finest racing hats, with one winner earning a prize, while live music will follow the festivities. 9641 Sunset Blvd. Beverly Hills; 310-273-1912.
The Churchill: The West Hollywood restaurant will offer food and drink specials until 7:00 P.M., including $12 Kentucky hot brown sandwiches, skillet-cooked corn bread, and eight dollar juleps, made both traditionally and in a cucumber-laced variation. Pitchers of mimosas will be $15. Live music will be featured by a band called Overboard. 8384 W. 3rd St. West Hollywood; 323-655-8384.
Township Saloon: George Abou-Daoud’s ode to Americana will hold a Derby party from noon to 5:00 P.M., featuring a “Best Hat” contest and special cocktails like blackberry mint juleps with Maker’s Mark, Hot Brown sandwiches, and Derby pie. 6612 Sunset Blvd, Hollywood; 323-464-5700.
Sassafrass: A Southern plantation setting sets the perfect stage for a day after the races. This 1933 Group bar will follow up the action by holding a party from 4:00 to 7:00 P.M. featuring live music from Barrelhouse Wailers and its usual cocktail list of mint juleps with housemade pecan liqueur and rye cocktails with sassafras bitters alongside house-brewed sarsaparilla.1233 N. Vine St. Hollywood; 323-467-2800. [MarPop!]