Derby Day dreams: 8 Places to enjoy a mint julep in North Carolina

Photo courtesy of Devil's Foot Beverage Co. via Facebook.

By Ellery Weil

April 30, 2024

“Aaannnddd, they’re off!” The start of a horse race is always exciting, but maybe the most exciting (and most-watched) race in the United States is on Derby Day, better known as the day of the Kentucky Derby, the first race in the famous Triple Crown series of horse races.

Derby Day traditions, including wearing elaborate hats to watch the race, have been beloved for over a century. Even Queen Elizabeth II, who famously loved horses, enjoyed attending.

However, one of the best-known (and tastiest!) Derby Day traditions is drinking a mint julep. In addition to their speedy racehorses, Kentucky is famous for distilling some of the best bourbon in the world, and what better way to enjoy the state’s biggest race than with a refreshing, bourbon-based cocktail?

Best of all, you don’t have to be in Kentucky to enjoy a Derby Day julep — North Carolinians can get in on the fun right here in the Tar Heel State. So, where should you head for your race day julep on May 4 this year? Grab your best hat and head on down to one of these eight spots:

Haberdish 3106 North Davidson Street, Charlotte

Don’t just take our word for it; the mint juleps at Haberdish “demand regular consumption” according to Charlotte-based magazine QC Exclusive. Whether it’s for Derby Day or just a brunch party, you can head on over to this Charlotte favorite for a delicious mint julep alongside classic southern favorites from North Carolina trout to chicken and waffles — the latter of which can be served with a scoop of buttermilk ice cream if you’re daring!

Derby Day dreams: 8 Places to enjoy a mint julep in North Carolina

Photo courtesy of Haberdish via Facebook.

Julep 207B Greenville Blvd. SW, Greenville

With a name like “Julep,” it’s no surprise that this Greenville favorite has, in addition to their tasty seasonal menu with an emphasis on local ingredients, a marvelous mint julep! But why stop there? At Julep, you can choose from a classic mint julep, or take a walk on the wild side with their spicy passion fruit julep, scotch basil julep, citrus coconut julep, or sweet tea julep. Bring a group to try them all and pick your favorite!

Derby Day dreams: 8 Places to enjoy a mint julep in North Carolina

Photo courtesy of Julep Contemporary Kitchen via Facebook.

Revival 1869 222 East Main Street, Clayton

If you like whiskey, Revival 1869 is the place to be. This self-proclaimed “drinkery” proudly boasts a selection of over 300 different types! In addition to their classic and rotating house-designed cocktails, this chic watering hole hosts live jazz, guided tastings, and more. And of course, be sure to look at their range of traditional cocktail favorites — they make a classic mint julep that’ll knock your socks off.

Alley Twenty Six 320 East Chapel Hill Street, Durham

If you want a mint julep that’s been honed to perfection, consider making your way to Alley Twenty Six. This upscale Durham restaurant has been featured in Vogue, and boasts a New American menu with a southern accent and an emphasis on seafood — including an entire “tinned fish” section on their menu! Moreover, they make a mint julep with small-batch bourbon you can enjoy on Derby Day, or anytime – tinned fish snacking optional.

Derby Day dreams: 8 Places to enjoy a mint julep in North Carolina

Photo courtesy of Alley Twenty Six via Instagram.

Mint Museum Randolph 2370 Randolph Road, Charlotte

Drinks in a museum? It might sound strange, but this Derby Day, you can savor a cocktail with a side of culture on the lawn of Charlotte’s celebrated art museum at their annual Kentucky Derby party. In addition to festive juleps, you’ll also find lawn games, food trucks, wine and beer, and more, with ticket sales supporting a local charity. There are also prizes for best hats and outfits, so dress to impress!

Derby Day dreams: 8 Places to enjoy a mint julep in North Carolina

Photo courtesy of The Mint Museum via Facebook.

The Mule 131 Sweeten Creek Road, Suite 10, Asheville

Sometimes, the best place for a great cocktail is straight at the source — a distillery, that is! The Mule, a bar and tasting room from Asheville’s own Devil’s Foot Beverage Company, prides itself on a seasonal menu of craft cocktails, plus a shop where you can take home more of the fun. Check out their food truck partners for a snack along with your julep, and on Derby Day itself, you can swing by for a slightly different event at The Mule — a Star Wars party! May the Fourth be with you, indeed.

Mystic Farm and Distillery 1413 Stallings Road, Durham

Another North Carolina distillery, located in Durham, Mystic Farm and Distillery takes the Kentucky Derby seriously with their annual Derby party, where tickets include a cocktail — preferably a mint julep with house-made Mystic Bourbon, of course. Party guests can also enjoy lawn games, “best dressed” prizes, and a “horse race” of your own around the farm’s pond — complete with betting! “Bets” can go towards prizes, so gamble responsibly!

Derby Day dreams: 8 Places to enjoy a mint julep in North Carolina

Photo courtesy of Mystic Farm and Distillery via Facebook.

The Willard Rooftop 9 Glenwood Avenue, Raleigh

Got guests coming in for Derby Day? Whether you’re hosting out-of-towners, or just want to enjoy the race in elegant surroundings, the rooftop bar at The Willard in Raleigh has devised their own twist on a classic cocktail with their strawberry mint julep, added to the menu especially for the Derby. Watch the Derby overlooking the city, and savor a sweet julep alongside tasty small plates at the bar.

Derby Day dreams: 8 Places to enjoy a mint julep in North Carolina

Photo courtesy of The Willard Rooftop Lounge via Facebook.

This article first appeared on Good Info News Wire and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.Derby Day dreams: 8 Places to enjoy a mint julep in North CarolinaDerby Day dreams: 8 Places to enjoy a mint julep in North Carolina

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