“My favorite thing about the derby? It takes two minutes,” says Jamie Hook, who organized Saturday’s Kentucky Derby party with owner Andy McDowell at Pete’s Candy Store at 709 Lorimer.
The race may take a matter of moments, but the Kentucky Derby is all about making an afternoon of it. On Saturday, Greenpointers and friends trekked to their favorite neighborhood watering holes to watch the races and sip on some mint juleps—some with a greater emphasis on the latter.
At Mark Bar on 1025 Manhattan, owner Tommy Mark teamed up with chef Michael De Prima of Lamb and Jaffy for their Kentucky Fried Derby afternoon. Patrons were treated to free buttermilk fried chicken, as well as $6 Evan Williams juleps complete with brown sugar simple syrup, mint, and fresh lime juice.
Over at tbd at 224 Franklin, manager Mike DelGrosso dished out pulled pork sandwiches in the backyard, and guests sipped on the best mint julep deal in town: $4 wonders made with Maker’s Mark, simple syrup, and fresh mint, served in the big-kids glasses. And while guests waited for the race to start, they were treated to a bluegrass band made up of members from All Night Cookin’ and Second Avenue Mountain Boys. Not that the race was really on anyone’s mind.
“I couldn’t name one horse or one trainer— I’m just here for the cheap mint juleps,” said Eric Anderson, who came all the way from Crown Heights to attend tbd’s bash. “I’ve been hearing that this is the best outdoor spot in Brooklyn.”
“I didn’t even know it was the Kentucky Derby today,” said Greenpointer Nick Caccavale, quite a few juleps in.
As for the verdict on the cheapest juleps in the nabe? “Delicious,” was the unanimous response.
Although the sun, drinks, and company seemed to take priority over the Derby at Mark Bar and tbd, over at Pete’s Candy Store things were in high gear. Williamsburgers and Greenpointers donned straw hats and their most dapper apparel, packing into the bar and backyard for a Kentucky feast. Inside, bartenders served $8 Jim Beam juleps. Outside guests devoured the blue plate special— bourbon glazed bbq ribs, potato salad, corn bread, and pecan-chocolate Derby Pie— all cooked by Jamie Hook himself at his apartment.
Pete’s Candy Store’s Kentucky Derby Day is a neighborhood staple—they’ve been hosting one for eight years.
“It’s been busy every year,” said McDowell. “It’s a blast.”
“I love making all the food,” said Hook.
As good as the grub, drinks, and even millinery station were, the main event at Pete’s was definitely the Derby. Hook, McDowell, and others worked together to draw up odds and a handy little guide to the race and the horses, all so that guests could participate in a little “paramutual wagery.” An hour before the race, Hook took his place on stage in the back room with a microphone and permanent marker, where a large piece of white butcher paper hung, indicating the horses in the race. Guests lined up and placed $5-$25 bets on their favorite contenders, most employing the highly scientific method of “who has the coolest name,” to choose their horses. With names like Awesome Act, Discreetly Mine, Ice Box, Homeboykris, Interactif, Paddy O’Prado, Make Music for Me, and Mission Ipazible, wagerers had a lot of pondering to do.
Husband and wife Jailee and Niko Rychen were betting on Sidney’s Candy—in honor of the city where they first met.
Hook’s horse of choice was Line of David.
“I just like him,” he said. “He runs with his nose down, with no blinders. He’s a funny horse. He always wins just by a nose.”
Greenpointer Marci Kwon, a horse racing fan who rode horses herself as a child, got a little bit more serious with her wagering— she placed $10 on American Lion at Off Track Betting on Manhattan Ave before coming to Pete’s.
“I like the name,” she said. “He won the Illinois Derby—I think he’s a dark horse.”
In the end, it was Todd Pletcher’s Super Saver who took the win—a first for the 42-year-old trainer, who has put 24 horses in the Derby and finally got a victory after ten years. Ten years and two minutes.
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