Keep Feeling Fascinators
Houston's hottest restaurants and bars run for the roses with Kentucky Derby parties, specials, and surprises
So many May weekend events in Houston, so little time. Cinco de Mayo celebrations. Coronation parties. As if this weekend couldn't get any more jammed, it's also the annual Kentucky Derby.
Not that Houstonians needed a reason to dress up and celebrate with cocktails and food, but those looking to tie in that kind of revelry with Derby watching will have plenty of choices. Here are some of our favorites. All events take place on Saturday, May 6.
Brenner's on the Bayou
Get dolled up in Derby best and head to Houston's iconic steakhouse for its annual Wine Fest. From 2:30 to 5:30 pm, stroll the grounds and take in samples from more than 40 wine makers while enjoying bites from fellow Landry's restaurants such as Brenner’s on the Bayou, Grotto Downtown, McCormick & Schmick’s, Cadillac Bar, Willie G’s, and Babin’s. The event offers a dessert station and a hat contest with grand, second, and third prizes. General admission is $150, with a $250 VIP option available. Buy tickets and learn more.
Eight Row Flint
Held at the bar's original location in the Heights, guests will enter through a floral archway where they'll find an afternoon of Derby delights. The best hat wins a Makers Mark gift basket, and a raffle allows attendees to bet on a winning horse. Get $10 Makers Mark 90 Smashes or Makers Mark 46 Juleps. Photo opp areas, music, and more highlight the celebration.
E’terie Bar & Grill
This Woodlands gathering spot has a host of mint julep specials to mark Derby Day. Choose from the PBJ Julep, made with Screwball whiskey and cranberry juice; the traditional Old Forester Mint Julep made with bourbon and simple syrup; or the Diplomatico Julep made with rum, simple syrup and chocolate bitters. They're $11 each, and the special runs from open to close.
EZ's Liquor Lounge
Champagne lovers, this one's for you. This retro-inspired bar in the Heights is blowing out bubbles with prices such as $100 Larmandier Bernier Blanc de Blanc, $60 Pierre Gimonnet, $250 Krug, and $70 Charles Heidsieck. In addition, the bar will serve Kentucky Hot Brown sandwiches made with smoked turkey from Truth Barbeque.
Heights Bier Garten
The 7th Annual Kentucky Derby Party features games and a best-dressed contest (for couples and dogs) with a grand prize of four tickets to the Houston Polo Club. In addition, attendees will find food and cocktail specials, a DJ, live band, and a 360 photo booth. Festivities run from 1-10 pm.
(Bow) tie one on at The Heights Social with contests, a 360-degree photo booth, and more. Photo by Dylan Minor
The newest Heights hot spot on W. 20th Street start the Derby Day party at 3 pm. Look for Derby-themed drinks, a menu dedicated to Churchill Downs, and even a best-dressed contest. (The winner of the ladies contest will receive a complimentary bottle of rosé wine; the lucky gentleman will receive a complimentary bottle of Woodford Reserve.)
More contests include a “Champs for the Champion” contest, where each reserved table will pick a horse racing in the Derby; the winner receives a complimentary bottle of champagne to toast the winner. Be sure to snap those fits in the 360-degree photo booth.
Fittingly for an establishment named after the event's signature cocktail, Alba Huerta's James Beard Award-wining cocktail bar goes all out for Derby Day. Held from 1-6 pm, guests can expect a live set from DJ G Funk, music by Bulbo Houston, and a cigar stand from 1502 & Sterne Fine Cigar Company. Food options include tacos from El Topo, food and drink options in The Parlor, and desserts by Fluff Bake Bar. Naturally, the bar will serve plenty of mint juleps. Derby hats and bowties encouraged and welcomed. $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Buy tickets online.
Julep's Derby Day parties are always epic.Photo by Emily Jaschke
Another standout bash takes place at this whiskey-obsessed bar in the Heights. Permission's 3rd Annual Kentucky Derby Party invites guests to get "Down and Derby" with a broadcast of the race, live music, a trumpet player, Derby-themed roses, a festive hat contest, and other surprises. Makers Mark representatives will be there, handing out branded swag, and advance-purchase admission includes a cocktail. Tickets are $20 and can be purchased in person before Derby Day. For table reservations, email the bar. The event kicks off at Noon and runs to 7 pm.
Rockhouse Southern Kitchen
This Galleria-area newcomer hosts what it bills as the largest Kentucky Derby watch party in Texas. "Talk Derby to Me" features live music, Derby watching on more than 50 tvs, brunch and lunch menus, and mint julep specials. Derby attire encouraged, and those who do have the incentive of a best-dressed contest. General admission is $30, with early bird and VIP options available. The party runs from 2-8 pm.
The bar's downtown location offers a Derby watch party, with live music before and after the big race. Participate in a best costume contest with prizes. In addition, the bar's signature mint julep will be available for Derby watchers to sip while cheering on the thoroughbreds. The event is free, but RSVPs are encouraged.