Who needs to go to Kentucky when there are plenty of excellent Derby Day celebrations in Milwaukee? No matter where you live, there's a local place for you to watch and celebrate the 144th annual Kentucky Derby on Saturday:
Here are 12 of our picks:
1. Art Bar
722 E. Burleigh St., (414) 372-7880
Grab your wide-brimmed hats and join Art Bar for its Kentucky Derby Happy Hour Party. Enjoy (2 for 1) mint juleps, margaritas (because it’s also Cinco de Mayo), beer, wine and cocktails. There will be a "Southern Belle" contest for best Derby attire. Wear big hats with flowers, feathers, bows and ribbons for a chance to win your very own horse.
1716 N. Arlington Pl., (414) 755-0099
There will be $5 Mint Juleps, half-off bottles of Cava and a menu of Derby-inspired small plates. Wear a hat or bowtie and be entered into a drawing to win a bottle of wine. See you at the races, Balzac-style!
3. Gibraltar MKE
538 W. National Ave., (414) 306-1502
Gibraltar presents The Derby Day Party. Hosted by Evan Christian and Damion Thompson, with no cover and DJ Bizzon on the decks, they don't care who wins the races. There will be big hats, elegant dresses, gentlemen’s wear, drink specials, dancing, complimentary tacos from La Casa de Alberto and other light snacks.
4. Hilton Milwaukee City Center
509 W. Wisconsin Ave., (414) 271-7250
Join in for the most exciting two minutes of sports. Pick your bourbon, your bonnet and your horse, and grab a front row seat for the viewing. The Hilton Milwaukee City Center's Monarch Lounge has a special Derby-inspired menu with complementary appetizers Mini Hot Browns, Cold Benedictine Finger Sandwiches, Kentuckyaki Wings and Bacon Bourbon Popcorn, plus featured cocktails like the Speedy Spritz, Star Stallion and Woodford Julep. There will also be live music, costume contests, raffles and more.
5. Iron Horse Hotel
500 W. Florida St., (414) 374-4766
Put on your favorite over-sized hat or seersucker suit and "Talk Derby To Me" at Iron Horse Hotel's annual outdoor Derby Day party. Extra Crispy Brass Band will be playing live before and after the race; festivities include photo ops with the living, breathing Iron Horse, access to the Veuve Cliquot-Moët & Chandon Champagne Bar, bottomless Woodford Reserve Mint Juleps from 2-6 p.m. and prizes for Best Hat and Best Bow Tie. Giddy up!
6. Leff's Lucky Town
7208 W. State St., (414) 258-9886
The Derby is a chance for every guy and gal to express their inner Southern style, so don't hold back when planning your wardrobe for the Leff's Kentucky Derby Party. Ladies can win a $50 gift card for Best Hat, gentlemen can win for best bow tie and/or tie (voted on by staff), or just make a donation to support the Wisconsin Chapter of the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. There will also be live music, special food and drinks and the Tosa Derby – Derby-style races around Leff's on a stick horse.
7. The Loaded Slate
1317 N. Old World 3rd St, (414) 273-5700
The Loaded Slate is combining Derby Day with Cinco de Mayo on Saturday with Derby de Mayo, with drink specials and raffles.
6732 W. Fairview Ave., (414) 292-3969
For the 11th year in a row, Maxie’s will host what it calls Milwaukee’s largest Derby Day party in support of Hunger Task Force, May 5 from 1 to 5 p.m. With costume contests, live music, drink specials, tasty food and entertainment, this year’s Fancy Hats to Help the Hungry could be Maxie’s liveliest celebration yet.
9. Pier 106 Seafood Tavern
106 W. Wells St., (414) 273-7678
Party at Pier 106 with drink specials, authentic Derby-style food and contests (best dressed male, best dressed female, best hat). There will be a Jim Beam Mint Julep Ice Sculpture that pours down chilled $7 Mint Juleps. After the race, jump aboard the Edelweiss for a special $15 cruise, departing Pier 106 at 6:30 p.m. and returning at 8 p.m., featuring scenic water and city views and drink specials.
10. Potawatomi Hotel & Casino
1721 W. Canal St., (800) 729-7244
Off-track betting, a hat contest, a mint julep glass giveaway and more will be happening at Poto this Derby Day. If you want to win big, come by starting at 8:30 a.m. Other than the competitions, you can also enjoy food and drink specials. Get all the info on the event here.
11. Red Lion Pub
1850 N. Water St., (414) 431-9009
Red Lion Pub wants to get all fancy for its Talk Derby To Me party, with drink specials like Mint Juleps, Kentucky Mules, Bulleit Old Fashioned Cocktails and Bulleit shots, a best hat contest and more.
12. The Wicked Hop
345 N. Broadway, (414) 223-0345
The 144th Kentucky Derby is an occasion for The Wicked Hop to swap its famous Bloody Marys for special Bulleit Mint Juleps. There's also a contest for best dressed and best hat, as well as a complimentary crawfish boil.