If you’re planning your summer visit to Saratoga — and why wouldn’t you — or if you’re already on the way up to, know one thing: any complete day at “The Spa” is a marathon. If you want to do it right, you’ve got to be at the track early to watch morning works, spend the afternoon at the races, win some money and then take that money out on the town for a bite and a post-race drink or two.
When it comes to finding a place to grab a drink, there are plenty of great spots to choose from. As someone who has been fortunate enough to have spent the past two summers at Saratoga, here are some suggestions for places to have a drink this summer. Since I’m mostly a gin and tonic and beer guy, I’ve also added some suggestions from some veteran Saratoga travelers.
But first, remember that there are plenty of taxis all over Saratoga. Never drink and drive. There’s so much to enjoy at Saratoga, but remember to always to it responsibly ...
Druthers: It’s always packed but I still somehow feel like this place doesn’t get the credit it truly deserves. This is probably my second-favorite spot to grab a drink in town (Henry Street Tap Room is tops for me— see below). Not only does Druthers brew its own beer, it also features a great food menu. My personal favorites are the pretzels with beer cheese and the mac and cheese. Wash it down with the house IPA.
The Post (aka The Paddock Bar): You don’t have to walk far to get into this place — it’s at the track! The Post bar is also right near Shake Shack and the Taqueria near the Clubhouse entrance. Oh yeah, and you can bet here. Every Saturday, The Post Bar also features live music with a DJ following the day's final race. It can get a little wild at The Post but that’s why you’re in Saratoga, so make sure you experience this.
Henry Street Tap Room: The best pound-for-pound, or should I say, drink-for-drink bar in Saratoga. The Tap Room is always stocked with a really unique and diverse assortment of beers, ranging from super-hoppy IPA’s to ear-tickling sours. You’ll also find a great whiskey and wine selection. Plus, Monday is $1 oyster night and vinyl night. Yep, you can bring your own vinyl and they’ll play it! I’ll see you there …
Hamlet & Ghost: Here’s one you might not have heard of before. It has only been open since January but already Hamlet & Ghost has received some rave reviews. The lounge at 24 Caroline Street offers witty and wide-ranging flavor profiles in its handcrafted cocktails like the Spice Hound (Ancho Reyes chili liqueur with Tequila Ocho Anejo) and Gone Bananas (Cachaca, Montenegro Amaro, lemon, orange citrate).
Bar at the Fasig-Tipton Sales Pavilion: On select nights, especially during the Saratoga Sale (August 8-9) and the New York-bred Yearling Sale (August 13-14), the bar at Fasig-Tipton is the ultimate social scene. If you’re the kind of person who likes to hobnob with people “in the know” or industry insiders, with a drink in your hand, this is where you could and should do it.
Sperry’s (Outdoor Patio): This is another favorite of the racetrackers who chimed in on our Twitter survey. It’s one of the more iconic spots on Saratoga’s popular Caroline Street. The outdoor patio is always a cool spot to grab a drink, network and mingle with other racing fans. Sperry’s also has a really nice food menu. When you’re done here, hop on over to …
Dango’s Irish Sports Bar: Another Caroline Street favorite. It’s always hopping with live music and an extremely busy bar. It’s a great place to meet people and to dance.
Saratoga City Tavern: Speaking of dancing, you’ll find five floors of dancing opportunity and entertainment at City Tavern. Each level features a different genre of music and, at the very top, there’s a rooftop deck with a spectacular view of Congress Park and the rest of downtown Saratoga. The bar is stocked with liquor for days and more than 110 beers on tap.
Horseshoe Inn: There’s no afterparty in Saratoga quite like a Horseshoe afterparty. It has become one of the more popular post-race bars, offering music and dancing for anyone who has come to Saratoga to just let loose. The atmosphere is festive and the bar features live performers every night. You can find a full schedule of music acts for this summer here.
Siro’s: A Saratoga institution, Siro’s has long been a favorite of racetrackers looking to blow off steam or their winnings after a long day at the track. It’s only a hop, skip and a jump from the Nelson Avenue exit — it might even be closer than that — and there’s always a good-sized crowd talking racing and throwing back some drinks.
Hattie’s Restaurant (Patio Bar): Best known for its authentic Southern cuisine (and fried chicken that keeps you dreaming for it until the next time you’re lucky enough to it again), Hattie’s also offers a really nice bar at the back of its restaurant at 45 Phila Street. The drink menu is not only long, it’s creative. It includes some home-crafted spins on cocktail favorites like the Hattie’s™ Bloody Mary, Hattie’s™ Hurricane and dozens of other choices.
Cantina: If you’re a margarita or tequila person, this is your first stop in Saratoga. There’s outdoor seating to go along with the really hip indoor decor at Cantina, which serves up spot-on Mexican classics — both food and drink. The drinks are tasty, and they’re strong. You might want to pace yourself — or you can just go for it and show up for Cantina’s happy hour Monday - Friday from 3:00-6:00.
Thirsty Own Outlet and Wine Garden: We’ll close it out with a suggestion for the wine lovers out there. As the name of this spot suggests, Thirsty Owl offers plenty of vino produced from the owner’s vineyard and winery on the shores of Cayuga Lake. You’ll find more than 20 different wines, many of which are award-winning, and you can enjoy them inside this beautiful facility, the patio or the popular garden.