Derby Day delicacies: Where to find the finest mint juleps in Michigan

Derby Day Delicacies: Where To Find The Finest Mint Juleps In Michigan

Photo courtesy of Alexandra Inn via Facebook.

By Ellery Weil

May 7, 2024

It may be over 300 miles from the Motor City to Churchill Downs in Kentucky—a place where the preferred mode of transport has four legs instead of four wheels—but every year on Derby Day, it can feel a lot closer. The Kentucky Derby is maybe the most famous horse race in America, and has been called “the most exciting two minutes in sports” by fans.

It’s not surprising that a race that’s been happening for over a century—and whose attendees have included Queen Elizabeth II—has developed a few traditions. On Derby Day, racing fans wear their very finest, including flashy sun hats and bow ties, and sip the traditional Derby Day drink: a mint julep, preferably made with Kentucky bourbon.

Sounds like fun? It is! And best of all, you can enjoy the festivities right here in the Mitten, at bars, restaurants, and other venues across the state where you can raise a mint julep to toast race day. Here are some of the Wolverine State’s finest spots to enjoy your Derby Day:

Dabney and Co.

344 North Rose Street, Kalamazoo

Derby Day Delicacies: Where To Find The Finest Mint Juleps In Michigan

Photo courtesy of Northern Initiatives via Facebook.

With the motto “home of the mint julep,” it’s no surprise that those looking for a Derby Day drink might head to this Kalamazoo favorite.

A cocktail bar and lounge, Dabney and Co., which takes its name from John Dabney, the formerly-enslaved hospitality genius who invented the mint julep in the nineteenth century, not only offers delicious cocktails, but live music and a light bites menu full of modern soul food flavors as well. Cheers to that!

One Bourbon

608 Bridge Street NW, Grand Rapids

Derby Day Delicacies: Where To Find The Finest Mint Juleps In Michigan

Photo courtesy of One Bourbon via Facebook.

Everyone knows that the right bourbon can make or break a mint julep, so where better to try one than a restaurant with the largest selection of bourbon in Grand Rapids?

While mint juleps aren’t one of their signature cocktails, their bartenders pride themselves on extensive whiskey knowledge, so don’t be afraid to ask! While you’re there, check out their seasonal menu full of tasty burgers, inventive entrees, and a sharing-size molten chocolate chip cookie.

Lagniappe

145 Jackson Cut Alley, Marquette

Derby Day Delicacies: Where To Find The Finest Mint Juleps In Michigan

Photo courtesy of Lagniappe Cajun Creole Eatery via Facebook.

Looking for a bit of the South up here in the North”? You’re in luck with Marquette’s Lagniappe, a little slice of Creole and Cajun fun in the Upper Peninsula.

This bar, restaurant, and specialty shop aims to bring the food, drink, music, and atmosphere of the American South to the northernmost part of the Mitten, with an emphasis on Louisiana-style cuisine. Enjoy a mint julep with a po’ boy sandwich, or a platter of southern-fried seafood.

The Oak Barrel

166 Oak Street, Suite 200, Wyandotte

Derby Day Delicacies: Where To Find The Finest Mint Juleps In Michigan

Photo courtesy of The Oak Barrel via Facebook.

The Oak Barrel takes its name from whiskey barrels, and this Wyandotte bar, inspired by prohibition-era speakeasies, takes its whiskeys and whiskey cocktails seriously. Enjoy their take on a classic Derby Day mint julep, with their house special “campfire julep” to bring a little Michigan twist to a Kentucky treat!

Green Dot Stables

2200 West Lafayette, Detroit

Derby Day Delicacies: Where To Find The Finest Mint Juleps In Michigan

Photo courtesy of Green Dot Stables via Facebook.

While there may not be any horses in this stable, this casual Detroit hangout is a great place to spend Derby Day.

With mint juleps for under $5 each, alongside loaded fries and sliders in flavors ranging from hot chicken to fluffernutter, it’s no surprise that Green Dot Stables frequently has a line out the door! If you’re daring, end your meal with their “mystery dessert”—no spoilers, please!

Alexandra Inn

2227 US 31, Traverse City

Traverse City may be best-known for cherries, but on Derby Day, it’s the place for cocktails. The Alexandra Inn is hosting a Kentucky Derby party at Blush, their rooftop terrace bar.

Mint juleps are on the menu, with special souvenir cups for the first 50 people to order them. Moreover, there will be prizes for the best-dressed guests of all ages and genders, so dress to impress!

Island House Hotel

6966 Main Street, Mackinac Island

Derby Day Delicacies: Where To Find The Finest Mint Juleps In Michigan

Photo courtesy of Island House Hotel via Facebook.

Cars are famously banned on Mackinac Island, so what better place to celebrate horse racing? This year, the Island House Hotel is holding an “evening of jockeys and juleps” to celebrate the Kentucky Derby at their 1852 Grill Room.

Guests of the hotel can purchase a “Derby Deal,” including an overnight stay, round-trip ferry tickets, admission to the party, and luggage transfers to and from the hotel to make for a full Derby Day getaway.

The Derby Tavern

3686 32nd Ave, Hudsonville

Derby Day Delicacies: Where To Find The Finest Mint Juleps In Michigan

Photo courtesy of The Derby Tavern via Facebook.

The name says it all. This Jamestown bar and restaurant takes its inspiration from horse racing, and while they may not serve mint juleps, you can enjoy the race with house specialty cocktails like the Secretariat, Mustang margarita, and the Triple Crown.

Feeling hungry? Enjoy classic pub fare from “winner’s circle” pizzas to “mane event” main courses.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.Derby Day delicacies: Where to find the finest mint juleps in MichiganDerby Day delicacies: Where to find the finest mint juleps in Michigan

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