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Best Bars In San Francisco To Watch The Kentucky Derby

By Melanie Graysmith

This year celebrates the 144th running of the Kentucky Derby, America’s greatest race conducted annually since 1875 at legendary racetrack Churchill Downs. If you can’t make it to Louisville, Kentucky for this year’s race, do not fret. You can still enjoy the race in all its traditional southern glory right here in San Francisco, and remember it is a party so it’s time to dress up!

Finn Town Tavern
2251 Market Street
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 626-3466

Date: May 5, 2018

The Castro is home to Finn Town, a “tavern with a twist” that serves distinctive cocktails inspired by the legendary figures that had an impact on San Francisco. This year Finn Town hosts its Kentucky Derby party complete with a Best Hat competition, so remember to wear your big hats in, delicious bourbon cocktails, and of course a live race viewing. The tavern with a twist will serve brunch and afternoon BBQ ($20-$26), to curb those hunger pangs, alongside a special Bourbon based cocktail menu ($12-$14) inspired by the Kentucky Derby. Plus, Finn Town will offer its take on The Oaks Lily cocktail, traditionally served at the Kentucky Oaks the day prior to the Derby. Note: Finn Town will donate a percentage of sales from The Lily cocktail to Breast Cancer Awareness.

Comstock Saloon
155 Columbus Ave.
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 617-0071

Date: May 5, 2018

Come over to Comstock Saloon for its annual Kentucky Derby viewing party as Comstock projects a live streaming of the Kentucky Derby! Derby Day celebrations feature a miniature horse plus finger foods and shareable plates from Chef Jason Raffin, and derby themed cocktails from the talented bar team, including several Southern classics such as Mint Juleps and Seelbachs. Cocktails around $8, and food bites are generally $7-$15. Festivities include race betting and best-dressed contests —“Best Hat” & “Dandiest Fellow”— each with exceptional prizes for the winners! Feel good about this gamble because all betting proceeds go to the SF-Marin Food Bank.

3200 16th St.
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 332-1633

Date: May 5, 2018

One of San Francisco’s oldest legendary saloons, Elixir has been here serving the neighborhood since at least 1858. This year Elixir celebrates the combination of Cinco de Mayo and Derby Day with a blend of Mexican traditions and old-fashioned Derby Day dress up with drink specials. Featured are tequila, Margaritas ($8), and Bulleit bourbon and rye whiskies for classic Mint Juleps ($8), highlighting tradition at its 15th annual Kentucky Derby viewing party. Also included will be once-in-a-lifetime single bottle pours from the bar’s extensive collection of rare agave spirits and whiskies (ranging $10-$100/oz). A light buffet of free snacks will be available for customers with a drink purchase, and a $50 Elixir gift card will be awarded at the end of the Derby for “Best Cinco de Derby Hat,” as decided by the bartenders.No ordinary drinking hole, Elixir commands stylish merriment, good food, friendly bartenders and Elixir is a green-certified bar, proud of its eco-sensibility.

Related:  Most Creative Cocktails In The South Bay

6th Annual Guardsman Kentucky Derby Party
General’s Residence at Fort Mason
1 Franklin Street
San Francisco, CA 94123

Date: May 5, 2018

Here is a fun, classy, and forever memorable upscale event that goes beyond the sheer opportunity to have a delightful sporting afternoon in a historic San Francisco mansion. With gorgeous views of San Francisco Bay right from your spot on the beautiful sporting green delightfully set up for traditional sporting lawn games, you’ve only just begun. There will be multiple big screens placed so every seat in the house offers a front row viewing experience. But wait there’s more. After the race the dance floor opens with a DJ spinning the sounds that make you want to dance.

Here are the classy features you get:

  • Open high-end bars, featuring Derby style mint juleps
  • Food trucks serving southern food
  • Kentucky Derby viewing on large screen TVs
  • Lawn games
  • Hand rolled custom cigars
  • Prizes for best-dressed and best hat
  • Raffle

The Guardsmen began in 1947 when civic-minded young professionals banded together to help disadvantaged kids by creating opportunities for life building skills. Learn more here. All proceeds from this event go to benefit at-risk Bay Area youth.

Related: Weekend Guide To The Kentucky Derby

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