The glorious aroma of fine luxury tobacco can be detected from an entire block away. I felt a bit like Toucan Sam as I followed my nose to the third annual Kentucky Derby celebration at Eleven Madison Park. Once I got there, I realized that the cigar smoking lounge was situated right at the front entrance of the party. At the lounge, there was a cocktail bar and an awesome Bluegrass band, The Crooners.
All I wanted to do was to stay at the front entrance for a cut and light and a nice cold Bourbon cocktail but I knew there were more festivities inside the restaurant. So I headed inside where I was greeted with a myriad of people dressed to the nines. The men donned seersucker suits and the women wore elaborate hats to mark the occasion.
Upstairs, chef Daniel Humm prepared a very southern feast including fried chicken with jalapenos, bite-sized waffles with bourbon syrup, tiny wedges of iceberg salad, a classic Kentucky burgoo stew, and house pickled green beans, cauliflower, and spring carrots.
Here’s what Linnea Covington (of Metromix) had to say about the event:
“We roll up our sleeves and let our hair down,” says the chef. As The Defibulators rocked the inside, The Crooners had people holding on to their hats and Nat Sherman cigars as they jumped around in the May sunshine. But nothing compared to the hype of the two-minute race. While most people had no clue who was competing, the cheers from the crowd when Pants on Fire, the first horse to race in the derby that was both trained by a woman and had a female jockey, walked down the track. That horse lost, but the victory of number 16, Animal Kingdom, didn’t stop the celebration as glasses clinked and the party raced on.
For me, it was less about the 2 minute race. It was very much about hanging out with friends, making new friends and just taking some time to celebrate spring. Well done Esquire and Nat Sherman, for putting together an event where almost anyone can have an exceptional time. As my friend mentioned to me, I think this will be an annual tradition for me.
Via Fernanda Zapata, Carlotta Cavallari, and Metromix