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Celebrate Derby Day in Houston With Big Hats and Lots of Mint Juleps

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On your mark...get set...go!

And by "go," of course, we mean get to the nearest bar or restaurant that's showing the Kentucky Derby and have yourself a mint julep. Though Derby Day isn't as big a celebration here in Houston as it is in parts of the Deep South (or, you know, in Louisville), we still know how to get down with some big hats and some stiff drinks.

We also know that "the most exciting two minutes in sports" is actually an all-day party, and we intend to take full advantage of the few (but fabulous) events going on around town.

Here are your best bets for Derby Day, which this year is Saturday, May 3.

Anvil Bar & Refuge Every year, Anvil hosts a Derby Day party, and this year is no exception. Though its sister bar, Julep, isn't yet open (damn), Anvil will be serving $8 mint juleps and airing the Kentucky Derby and all the associated festivities on a TV brought in for the occasion. The bar will be opening early at noon instead of 4 p.m. and staying open until 2 a.m. Guests are encouraged to dress in their Derby finest: Obnoxiously large hats and full seersucker suits strongly recommended.

Brennan's of Houston Brennan's is hosting "dapper gentlemen" and "lovely ladies" at the Courtyard Bar on Saturday starting at 1 p.m. Executive chef Danny Trace will be preparing an upscale version of a traditional dish called a "hot brown." His take is tasso and Texas Gold Cheddar melted over french bread with pea patch tomatoes, okra pickles and bacon salt chips. It's served with an orange mint tea cocktail for $15. If you want to go even more classic, Brennan's will be offering the beloved mint julep in traditional silver cups, or, for the more adventuresome, the Mint Julep Moderne (served up, in a martini glass). Guests who wear Derby-style hats will get a peach tea cocktail on the house.

Brooklyn Athletic Club This year, Brooklyn Athletic Club is teaming up with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society for a fundraiser on May 3 from 3 to 6 p.m. The fabulous patio at BAC will no doubt be awash with seersucker and big hats, as prizes will be given for "best dressed" and "best hat." Tickets are $25 and get you admission to the restaurant and patio, Derby-inspired cocktails and light bites and, of course, viewing of the race itself on TVs throughout the space. Guests will also have the opportunity to enter into a raffle for a day's rental in a Ferrari F430, if Derby attire alone doesn't make you feel fancy enough.

The Pass & Provisions Provisions has a little-known but excellent patio, and the restaurant is inviting guests to take advantage of it and the bar area, free of charge, for a Derby-themed fête. From 2 to 6 p.m., the bar will be serving $5 juleps, and the kitchen is creating special "Derby food," which I'm told involves traditional Kentucky-style hot dog sandwiches. There will also be draft beer and sparkling wine specials if juleps aren't your thing. Live music will be provided by Will Van Horn, and Provisions is bringing a large TV to the patio area to show the races. No word on dressing to the theme, but a little flair couldn't hurt.

Reserve 101 Because juleps are the traditional drinks of the Kentucky Derby and they're made with bourbon, it's only right that Reserve 101, Houston's only whiskey, bourbon and scotch bar, has a special on on the cocktails in celebration of the races. Reserve 101 will be offering Woodford Reserve mint juleps for $10 from 2 p.m. (when the bar opens) until 2 a.m. The whiskey bar will also be showing the Derby on TVs throughout the space.

Rosemont Social Club The patio bar above Uchi will be serving julep-inspired cocktails all afternoon and evening starting at 4 p.m. and going until 2 a.m. On the menu are ginger juleps, blueberry juleps and blackberry juleps, each for $6. Rosemont will also be showing the Derby on the TVs at the bar, as well as in the cozy space inside. Wear your best seersucker jacket to look suave while you wave at the traffic speeding down Westheimer below.

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