By Matt Mueller Culture Editor Published May 01, 2021 at 9:01 AM Photography: The Iron Horse Hotel Facebook

Jockeying for a seat for the Kentucky Derby's grand return to the first weekend of May, taking to the track just before 6 p.m. on Saturday night? Dust off your dapper duds, haul your big fancy hat out of the closet and hoof it to one of these fourteen local bars, restaurants and hangouts hosting Derby Day celebrations – with all the mint juleps, clothing contests and equestrian action you missed out on last spring. And for more spots with the country's most famous four-legged sprint, check out our sports bar guide and patio guides

1. SportClub

750 N. Jefferson St., (414) 808-1588

When you're looking for a place to watch the most important sporting events of the day, best start at the place with "sport" right there in the name. Indeed, this Downtown sports haven will throw a Bubbles and Bowties party for the big race on Saturday, featuring $7 mint julpets and bloodies, $17 bottomless mimosas, a DJ starting to mix things up closer to race time at 3 p.m. and, of course, the Kentucky Derby on all of its many screens – including its outdoor patio space. And yes, there will also be bubbles – $30 for a bottle – and bowties. In fact, there's more than $1,000 in cash and prizes on the table for the best bowtie – as well as for best dressed, biggest hat and best mask – in attendance. Because why leave the competition on Saturday to just the horses? Festivities begin at 11 a.m. 

2. Maxie's

6732 W. Fairview Ave., (414) 292-3969

Maxie's may have to scale things back considering (*gestures at everything*), but the beloved Southern food restaurant's annual Derby gathering will still be a dandy. The special Saturday soiree will serve a special Kentucky-rific menu featuring Kentucky bourbon barrel beer cheese soup, pimento cheese flatbread, buttermilk fried chicken, Kentucky Hot Browns, peanut butter pie and much more – with, of course, mint juleps, Derby teas and other race-ready libations to wash it all down plus the race itself on extra televisions for entertainment.

Best of all, not only will ten percent of sales now through Saturday go Hunger Task Force but so will 100 percent of all $5 "bets" placed on which Derby horses will win, place and show. Successful bets will still come away winners, earning awesome gifts from Maxie's and Black Shoe Hospitality's other fine restaurants. With good food, good prizes and money going to a good cause, clearly everyone's winning this Derby Day at Maxie's. For more information and reservations, visit Maxie's website

3. Leff's Lucky Town

7208 W. State St., (414) 258-9886

Need some extra luck for your Derby bet on Saturday? Why not go to Leff's Lucky Town for some bonus mojo! (I'm sure they don't call it Lucky Town for nothing.) And even if your pony of choice falls short at the finish line, you'll at least have a terrific time at this Tosa hotspot, serving up special Kentucky Derby drinks like mint juleps, Kentucky mules and Derby Daze cocktails starting at 3 p.m. Plus, those who arrive in their most dashing Derby attire and handsome hats will receive half-off their cocktails. See, don't you feel lucky already?!

4. Matty's

14460 W. College Ave., (414) 427-3838

This suburban sports hangout, found in New Berlin, will be off to the races on Saturday. Shooting off the starting pistol at 3 p.m., Matty's will offer several food and drink specials along with prizes for the best dressed man, best dressed woman and best Derby hat out by its Rustic Bar space – and then, of course, plentiful screens inside and out to watch the race when it kicks off around 6 p.m.

5. Buck Bradley's

1019 N. Old World 3rd St., (414) 224-8500

Beyond having the fastest two mintues in sports blasting across its many, many television screens, Buck Bradley's isn't throwing any huge or particular Kentucky Derby bash. Saturday does, however, will mark a very special day worthy of frivolous festivities at the beloved Old World Third Street hotspot, home of "the longest bar east of the Mississippi": its reopening day! So celebrate the return of a terrific bar – open on Saturday from 11 a.m. until 2 a.m. – along with celebrating the most famous horse race in the country at Buck Bradley's. 

6. Milwaukee Brewing Company

1128 N. 9th St., (414) 226-2337

Bourbon and mint juleps may steal all the spotlight on Derby weekend, but don't forget about a tasty and refreshing beer too. You'll be able to find plenty at Milwaukee Brewing Company's Derby party starting at 2 p.m., serving up its classic brews along with special releases of its mint julep hard seltzer and "Run for the Roses" barrel-aged beer. Need something to pass the time before the Derby takes off on the taproom's big screen? Take a brewery tour of the gorgeous, still relatively new space. Plus, put away your well-worn pandemic PJs and dust off your most dashing Derby duds because there will be a best dressed contest and more to go along with the filly festivities. 

7. Oak Barrel

1033 N. Old World 3rd St., (414) 897-8320

Kentucky would happen to know something about oak barrels – so this Old World Third Street haven would be a fitting place to take in the ultimate race. And in case the prescence of plentiful bourbon alone didn't put you in the Derby-ing mood, starting at 2 p.m., Oak Barrel will serve up loads of food and drink specials – indoors and out – befitting of the special day. The menu will feature $4 Jim Beam shots, $5 Kentucky bourbon vanilla cream ale, $6 double tall Maker’s Mark mixers, $5 Kentucky fried bacon appetizers, $8 Winner's Circle mint juleps, $8 Oaks Lily and more. So come by; it should be a barrel of fun. 

8. Brothers

1213 N. Water St., (414) 224-1690

Haven't gotten to check out the brand new Brothers recently? Well, the Kentucky Derby provides a pretty stellar excuse to check out the new space (renovated last fall) while taking in the race on the Water Street bar's many TV screens. Plus, starting at 11 a.m., there will be drink specials – including $7 mint juleps and Bloody Marys, $8 personal mimosa pitchers and $24 bottles of The Palm Rose – and a contest for the best Derby hat in the house. So for this Derby Day, gather up all your brothers at Brothers. (And your sisters and friends and whoever else too, obviously.)

9. NorthSouth Club

230 E. Pittsburgh Ave., (414) 930-4827

While the horses are shuffling into their starting gates on Saturday night, you could be shuffling away at NorthSouth Club with their special Derby Day reservations – featuring 90 minutes of shuffleboard fun, a mint julep cocktail (complete with your own copper julep cup) and a spot in a raffle for a limited edition Kentucky Derby bottle of Woodford Reserve, all for $20 a person. Reservations are available at 4:30 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. – but the spots are going faster than Saturday's four-legged racers, so hoof your way over to NorthSouth's website quickly. And if your horse of choice doesn't win your bet, well, they've got axe-throwing too to help let off some anger. 

10. Red Lion Pub

1850 N. Water St., (414) 431-9009

You won't be seeing red if you head to Red Lion Pub for your Kentucky Derby festivities. For real horse-racing heads, the British-style pub will feature races throughout the afternoon starting at 2:30 p.m. – complete with $6 summer hummers as well as $8 Kentucky mules and mint juleps to help quench your thirst and soothe your throat after hollering at your horse of choice. Red Lion Pub will also feature a fashion fracas, with the best Derby Day outfit and the best Derby hat both scoring $50 gift cards. With all of that, the Kentucky Derby should be a roaring good time at Red Lion Pub.

11. The Explorium Brewpub

5300 S. 76th St. #1450a, (414) 423-1365
143 W. Saint Paul Ave., (414) 423-1365

Whether you want to go the original Southridge Mall spot or the freshly opened Third Ward location, you'll find find the Kentucky Derby – and tasty race-appropriate drinks to go with it, including $8 Old Forester mint juleps and $9 Woodford mint juleps. Or, if those drinks aren't for you, Explorium's got plenty of its own delicious craft beer for you to swig down the final stretch. And if for some reason the Kentucky Derby isn't your speed, both Explorium locations will also show the sliiiightly slower turtle derby at 5 p.m. before the main event.

12. The Yard at the Iron Horse Hotel

500 W. Florida St., (414) 374-4766

Unfortunately, The Iron Horse's usual beloved Talk Derby to Me party will have to wait until 2022. The boutique hotel's beautiful outdoor patio space will still be well-equipped for the big race on Saturday, however, with several television screens to watch the sprint along with some Derby drink specials. So even though it may not be as bumping as normal, The Yard is still a four-star way to watch the four-legged competitors this weekend.

13. Mo's Irish Pub

10842 W. Bluemound Rd., (414) 774-9782

Mo's will be all about the roses on Saturday – the Run for the Roses, that is. The Irish pub's Tosa location, found at 10842 W. Bluemound Rd., will air the race around 6 p.m., but before then, the popular hangout will host an equestrian celebration starting at noon and featuring a big Derby hat contest beginning at 3 p.m. The winner will receive a Mo's Irish Pub gift card, so make sure to arrive wearing your most high-class headgear in the hopes of being crowned the chapeau champion before the day's big ticket competition takes off. 

14. Nomad World Pub

1401 E. Brady St., (414) 224-8111

Not about the big pomp and prestige surrounding the Kentucky Derby? Is the only competition you care about on the track, not on top of people's heads? Do you prefer your sports dressed down, not dressed up? Well, do we have the Derby Day party for you. Nomad World Pub needs none of the flourishes or fancy outfits. It's here for galloping, gambling and gulping down hard liquor – and they'll have that glorious triple crown on Saturday starting at 11 a.m., serving up horses on its screens, pull tabs for some bonus money-making (but probably more money-losing) and no-frills drinks including $3 High Life bottles, $4 Jack Daniels shots and High Life tall boys, and $7 Lynchburg lemonades.

Matt Mueller Culture Editor

As much as it is a gigantic cliché to say that one has always had a passion for film, Matt Mueller has always had a passion for film. Whether it was bringing in the latest movie reviews for his first grade show-and-tell or writing film reviews for the St. Norbert College Times as a high school student, Matt is way too obsessed with movies for his own good.

When he's not writing about the latest blockbuster or talking much too glowingly about "Piranha 3D," Matt can probably be found watching literally any sport (minus cricket) or working at - get this - a local movie theater. Or watching a movie. Yeah, he's probably watching a movie.