There’s no better or more natural way to spend the Saturday of the Kentucky Derby than drinking juleps and reveling in the gentility of being southern. Fortunately for all of us who will do that from afar, there are lots of watering holes that offer an authentic julep-drinking experience right here in New York. Below are eight of my favorites; some are new, some are old, some are probably a little unexpected but all share one all-important thing in common: They have REAL julep cups. Pick the place that suits your taste–or, if you’re a true thirsty southerner, try them all. Nothing says the Derby like a Julep Crawl.
1. Freemans at the end of Freemans Alley off Rivington offers a seasonal julep anad great people-watching. I’d skip the brunch/lunch crowd and go around 4pm to ensure an open seat at the bar.
2. Pravda might seem like the most random spot on the list but for a late night julep in a shiny silver cup, there’s no better spot. Plus: pellet ice!
4. Little Branch‘s julep is one of their signature cocktails. Past specialty versions include a peach brandy julep. And the bar doesn’t scrimp on accessories like lots of mint sprigs and a hollow silver spraw (spoon-straw).
5. Tipsy Parson has the city’s first frozen mint julep. It’s less a traditional julep and more a boozy slushy but around 9pm, it makes a perfect dessert/palate cleanser. For those who are ending the crawl at home, check out the julep recipe here. It pairs surprisingly well with the house pimento cheese (mayonnaise-less), which you can also make at home.
And for those who are in Brooklyn or will be hanging out there tomorrow, BYOJC and head to:
6. Floyd and 7. Union Hall will both be muddling and pouring juleps for $5 tomorrow. Also on offer from the Kentucky-bred proprietors of these establishments: cornhole, free country ham biscuits and Derby pie and, of course, a contest for the best Derby hat (the prize is $100).
8. The Bell House sees Floyd and Union Hall’s wager and goes one better with deals and festivities lasting all day. There’s BBQ and Van Leeuwen ice cream from 2-5pm, square dancing from 2:30-4:30pm and free Makers Mark juleps from 5-6pm.