Let’s face it, for most of us the best part of the Kentucky Derby is the cocktails! Imbibing in fruity sips and dangerously smooth drinks while donning an over-the-top hat is the perfect way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Check out these San Diego Spots where you can tip your hat to these Kentucky Derby-worthy drinks.
Sit back and relax at Pacific Beach’s premier lounge and eatery, The Duck Dive. Just steps from the sand, this laid-back beach bar has an appealing list of fruity and fun cocktails, including their Blueberry Mojito. Made with Appleton’s Estate White Rum, fresh blueberry, lime and fresh mint, one sip of this invigorating beverage and you’ll be instantly transported to the grandstand at Churchill Downs. A sprig of mint combined with the subtle flavor of blueberry are both reminiscent of the derby-popular mint julep drink, the only difference is the mojito is made with white rum instead of bourbon.
It’s off to the races at barleymash, a Gaslamp District favorite spot for big sporting events and get-togethers. Communal-style and booth seating, along with televisions placed all around the bar and dining lounge, guarantee the best seat in the house no matter where you’re sitting. In celebration of the Kentucky Derby, barleymash will be serving traditional Mint Juleps, served in a 2018 Derby Cup for you to keep (while supplies last), along with Woodford Old Fashioned consisting of Woodford Reserve Bourbon, simple syrup, Angostura bitters and orange bitters all on the rocks.
Nothing says refreshing like a tall glass of lemonade and Wood Ranch, located in Mission Hills, has a few tasty lemonade beverages on their menu. Try the Newport Lemonade, which is concocted with Ketel One Vodka, mint, crisp cucumber, fresh lemonade and a dash of sweet zest to create a wonderful, year-round libation. A timeless Wood Ranch favorite also includes the Ranch Hard Lemonade, a blend of Cruzan Raspberry rum, fresh lemonade and farm-fresh raspberries. You can also enjoy the restaurant’s menu of high-quality savory signature dishes such as Certified Angus Beef steaks and burgers.
Venture up to Solana Beach to watch the Kentucky Derby at Pillbox Tavern, a “retro modern” bar offering locals and visitors a place to unwind. Not only does the coastal-inspired spot serve home-style food that is sure to delight every palate, they also have an impressive craft cocktail menu featuring fresh and enticing flavors. The “Not Yo Mamma’s” Gin and Tonic would be a perfect libation for May 5th, as its made with Old Harbor small batch gin, fresh muddled cucumber, lemon juice, a splash of tonic and housemade habaneros syrup (for an extra little kick).
Fancy hats are always one of the most captivating parts of the Kentucky Derby each year, so why not get fancy Osetra Seafood & Steaks with any of their bar specialty beverages. Described as playfully sophisticated with a chic ambiance, Osetra boasts some of the best cocktails and spirits in San Diego. For a sweet and refreshing beverage, go with The Blackberry Caipirina made with Ypioca Cachaca Rum, blackberries, lime juice and organic agave.
At Jalisco Cantina, you can enjoy scratch-made dishes and specialty beverages while kicking back and taking in the relaxed atmosphere of the lively bar and eatery. To celebrate the 144th Kentucky Derby, ask your server for the Mint Julep Margarita, a unique twist on a classic derby drink. This thirst-quenching marg is made with 100% Blue Agave Tequila, Kentucky Straight Bourbon, fresh lime, orange curacao, simple syrup and of course fresh mint leaves. Jalisco offers some of the finest tequila and handcrafted cocktails in North County, so you know you’re guaranteed to enjoy sipping on this specialty.
If you can’t make it to the Kentucky Derby this year, take in all the action from a bar and eatery offering Southern-inspired bites and sips. The Smoking Gun, located on Market Street in the Gaslamp District, is the place for you! Start off with a Toki Old Fashioned, a combination of Toki Japanese whisky, blood orange amaro and black walnut bitters, and a small plate of Lemon-Pepper Chicken Drumettes. The Smoking Gun offers Southern-style side dishes that will make you swoon;Homemade Stuffing and BBQ & Molasses Baked Beans are just a few of the options. Another cocktail to tip your derby hat to is the Radler Spritz, a light and refreshing blend of Stiegl Ralder grapefruit beer, campo viego cava and house ginger syrup.