The question of where to gather on the first Tuesday in November, whether it's for the race itself or the best flutes in town, doesn't need to be difficult. With this guide, you can be sure of the form, with each venue offering a quality mix of atmosphere, dining and, of course, bubbles. As for your bets, you're on your own we're afraid.
Harbour views and glasses of NV Taittinger, combined with some of Sydney's more forward-thinking seafood, make for a compelling package on Cup Day. Tough choices abound on Brent Savage's four-course menu with the likes of smoked ocean trout parfait, roasted king prawns and XO sauce, or the cos lettuce with cured yolk, Ortiz anchovies and whipped roe. Once you've had your fill of Champagne, you can rely on glasses selected by Nick Hildebrandt to keep the good times rolling.
$120 for four-courses and glass of NV Taittinger. 10/23 Barangaroo Avenue, Barangaroo NSW, (02) 9220 0111, cirrusdining.com.au
Dan Hong's premium Cantonese, a tome of a wine list and the lively room at Mr Wong make for a winning package if you're a city worker looking for something different to last year's Melbourne Cup festivities. Glasses of Veuve Clicquot and a selection of dim sum get the good times started, while the rest of Hong's nine-course banquet, featuring the likes of char siu kurobuta pork neck and fried rice with trout roe, will keep spirits buoyed.
$180 for nine-course banquet and a glass of Veuve Clicquot. 3 Bridge Lane, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9240 3000, merivale.com.au
Between the big race, the stunning views, door prizes and the beautiful plates in front of you, you could be forgiven for getting a touch distracted at Bennelong. Glasses of Charles Heidsieck will help ease you into proceedings, followed by Peter Gilmore and Rob Cockerill's four-course lunch featuring items from the restaurant's new menu. Arkady lamb comes with fermented rye, spring cabbage and peas while stracciatella and confit tomatoes dressed with a sherry caramel is a tasty way to start. There'll also be Sydney rock oysters, yellowfin sashimi and roasted snapper for seafood lovers.
$220 for four courses and glass of Charles Heidsieck. Bennelong Point, Sydney Opera House, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9240 8000, firstname.lastname@example.org
Get your pals together to make the most of Nomad's eight-course banquet, which starts with warm split pea hummus, house charcuterie and jersey-milk haloumi before moving to the main event, either a whole wood-roasted trout with sweet and sour eggplant or barbecued lamb rump with a pine nut agrodolce on the side. Finish with a sandwich of olive oil parfait and halva crumble, topped with pistachio and honey.
$115 for eight-course banquet and glass of sparkling. 16 Foster St, Surry Hills, NSW, (02) 9280 3395, nomadwine.com.au
If it's riches you're after on Cup Day, don't leave it all to chance. Book a table at Felix where decadence is the order of the day, from the gougères through to a Valhrona chocolate tart with Pepe Saya crème fraîche. Settle in for an afternoon of joie de vivre, with quality French fare and wines to match.
$225 for four courses and glass of Veuve Clicquot Rosé Vintage. 2 Ash St, Sydney, NSW, (02) 9240 3000, merivale.com.au
If you can't get to Melbourne, Sean's Kitchen might be the next best thing. Housed inside Adelaide's casino, Sean's brasserie-style surrounds and impressive wine list may set hearts racing, while others will be there for Sean Connolly's classic dishes. He'll be serving a three-course lunch and you can also splash out on a seafood platter of sashimi, pipis and king prawns to go with your bubbles.
$120 for three courses and glass of sparkling or $159 with a seafood platter. Station Rd, Adelaide, SA, (08) 8218 4244, email@example.com
BOTANIC GARDENS RESTAURANT
At this glass-walled restaurant in the Botanic Gardens' leafy surrounds, Melbourne Cup lunch comes with a side of goodwill, with all ticket sales supporting Craniofacial Australia, a charity that works with people with facial deformities and injuries. For $150, attendees can enjoy two courses, drinks and a dessert bar with sweeps, entertainment, raffles and an auction throughout the afternoon.
$150 for two courses, dessert bar and drinks. Plane Tree Dr - Botanic Gardens of Adelaide, Adelaide, SA. Bookings via Craniofacial Australia on (08) 8267 4128 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Make a day of it and head for the Adelaide Hills, where you can bask in 70 hectares of hillside and vines at The Lane, as you kick back with Champagne and canapés on the lawn. Back in the dining room, chef James Brinklow will serve four-courses lunch between sweeps and a screening of the race, while acoustic live music adds to the fun.
$150 for four courses, canapés and Champagne. $20 for return transport from Adelaide CBD. 5 Ravenswood La, Hahndorf, SA, (08) 8388 1250, email@example.com
Ben Russell's menu is bound to draw crowds, with three courses of spring fare including yellowfin tuna with white asparagus and miso and smoked veal short-rib, beetroot and horseradish. Take a pause from lunch for sweeps, Fashions on the Field and entertainment, as well as a screening of the race itself.
$155 for three courses, canapés and a glass of Champagne. 1 Eagle St, Brisbane, Qld, (07) 3233 2555.
If three courses of Italian fare overlooking the city and Story Bridge sound like your thing, Otto Ristorante is your ticket this race day. Between courses of squid ink tagliolini and Riverina eye fillet, there'll be sweeps and prizes for best dressed. And if you feel like extending the afternoon, pop downstairs to Bar Otto for Spritzes and apéritivi.
$98 for three courses, sweeps, screens and prizes. Drinks additional with $40 or $65 packages available. 480 Queen St, Brisbane, Qld, (07) 3835 2888, firstname.lastname@example.org
If Flemington or a backyard party are both out of the question, head to the Yarra Valley where Matt Stone and Jo Barrett's food at Oakridge will leave you feeling very lucky indeed. Your ticket gets you three courses plus canapés - made with produce from the kitchen garden, no less - as well as a glass of sparkling and plenty of entertainment, including a toss the handbag competition. $95 for three courses plus canapés and a glass of sparkling.
864 Maroondah Hwy, Coldstream, Vic, (03) 9738 9900, email@example.com
Whatever your definition of party times, Lalla Rookh has got you covered with the choice between a sit-down four-course lunch or canapés and Prosecco. There are also four different beverage packages on offer, from strictly Italian to all-Australian or something in-between, and TV screens showing the race.
$65 for four courses or $35 for canapés, beverage packages $48-$88. Lower Ground, 77 St Georges Tce, Perth, WA, (08) 9325 7077, firstname.lastname@example.org
It's a Mad Hatters-themed party at this riverside diner on Melbourne Cup Day and while all three Ku De Ta spaces - The Deck, Ku Dining and Ku West - are getting in on the fun, our pick of the field is Ku Dining's four-course lunch. Flutes of Louis Roederer Brut Premier go hand-in-hand with a selection of snacks, followed by octopus with eggplant and honey and a choice between Wagin chicken, pipis and corn or the fish of the day with a side of celeriac and green herbs. A high tea of popcorn meringues and violet éclairs sees the Mad Hatters theme through to the end, but for those who have energy to burn, head to The Deck for the after-party.
$140 for four courses and glass of Louis Roederer Brut Premier. 306 Riverside Drive, East Perth, WA, (08) 6324 1100, kudeta.com
THE STABLES BAR
With atmosphere in spades, Pimms cocktails and a live band, you could be forgiven for thinking you'd somehow ended up in the Bird Cage. What it lacks in socialites, The Stables makes up for in canapés, oysters, cocktails and spot prizes. And it wouldn't be race day without a glass or two of Veuve Clicquot.
$90 for canapés, one cocktail and glass of sparkling, 888 Hay St, Perth, WA, thestablesbar.com.au