The launch of racing season at the Del Mar Racetrack brings thoroughbred-inspired spirits.
Heading to Opening Day or any of the race days during Del Mar Thoroughbred Club’s season at the racetrack is a San Diego tradition not to be missed. Even if you can’t make it out to the infield, you can still enjoy a variety of delicious race-themed cocktails around the county to get you into the Del Mar spirit.
For those who do go, these drinks will bring up memorable moments of wild hats, linen suits, mud caked heels, and horse-loving revelry. Here are a few places around San Diego to enjoy race and horse-inspired cocktails this season.
Race fever comes to Little Italy with this Sicilian trattoria’s take on a seasonal classic. The Busa “Julip” takes the beloved traditional recipe and adds a twist with Makers 46 bourbon, lemon, mint, rhubarb bitters and a Luxardo cherry.
1917 India St., Little Italy, 619.238.1917, barbusa.com
Head up to Carlsbad for this enticing cocktail named after the winning bet if your selected horses finish in first and second place. The Exacta Box features amontillado sherry, rye, Aperol, lemon juice, orgeat and grapefruit bitters for a positively victorious drink.
3040 Carlsbad Blvd., Carlsbad, 760.434.2217, park101carlsbad.com
Head down to this 1920s inspired speakeasy in the Gaslamp for a taste of the races with Don’t Pet the Pony. Using Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel Bourbon, fresh mint, house-made strawberry demerara and R&D house bitters, it’s a delicious highlight of Kentucky’s favorite spirit.
548 Fifth Ave., downtown, 619.501.1919, prohibitionsd.com
Become a master of the races with the Derby Whisperer at this East Village hotspot. Tame your bets with a simple cocktail of bourbon, tart berries, lemon and ginger. Don’t forget to don your big hat or seersucker suit, and practice your best whisperer impression.
1290 F St., East Village, 619.542.9155, lola55.com
Charles + Dinorah
With a moniker fit for a thoroughbred, the Shiso Pretty is crafted with shiso-infused cucumber vodka, aloe liqueur, green Chartreuse and lemon and inspires images of the verdant infield of the racetrack.
1410 Rosecrans St., Point Loma, 619.226.6100, charlesanddinorah.com
The French take on the classic Mint Julep at this Kensington locale is the Derby Démodé. The bourbon used to make the cocktail is first infused with orange and star anise, then served on the rocks with muddled mint, cane sugar and a splash of seltzer.
4090 Adams Ave., Kensington, 619.255.4167, bleuboheme.com
Death by Tequila
Inspired by horses’ love for carrots as snacking treats, this Encinitas spot created the Baja Breeze for Del Mar racing season. Featuring reposado tequila, carrot juice, lime, rosemary tarragon syrup, rhubarb bitters, and garnished with fresh microgreens, it might just cause whinnys and neighs of delight.
569 S. Coast Hwy. 101, Encinitas, 760.782.2240, deathbytequila.com
If you’re looking for a cocktail and a ride to the races, head to El Chingon in the Gaslamp. The restaurant is offering a Del Mar Opening Day Party Package that includes a signature cocktail at the bar/restaurant before the races, plus a round-trip ticket from downtown to the race track on a bus, admission to opening day and entry to El Chingon’s after party ($75).
560 Fifth Ave., Gaslamp, 619.501.1919, elchingon.com
Want to make your own unique julep at home? Try this recipe for a Cloak Cup Julep from Cloak & Petal (1953 India St., Little Italy, 619.501.5505, cloakandpetal.com).
½ oz. Persimmon Purée
1 oz. pisco
1 oz. tequila
¼ oz. Aperol
½ oz. Falernum
Lavender bitters (to taste)
Lavender wands (garnish)
1. Muddle mint and persimmon purée.
2. Build all ingredients in julep cup, top with crushed ice and swizzle.
3. Garnish with lavender wands and lavender bitters (to taste).