The Fourth of July holiday will kick off with a bang and a splash in San Francisco as the opening ceremonies of the America's Cup take place on Independence Day.
The final competition of the world's most prestigious sailing race is scheduled for September 21, with plenty of competitions and events in between. And up until now, the event – whose defending cup-holder is the Golden Gate Yacht Club, home club of Oracle Team USA – has certainly created plenty of waves. The sailing community is split over the new style of catamaran in this year's race, the expensive AC 72 (in fact, two boats have wrecked during training, one involving a fatality), and Silicon Valley billionaire Larry Ellison, who brought the event to San Francisco, is unpopular with many locals. The latest hiccup involves a possible lawsuit by the Italian team for a last-minute rules change.
In other words, in addition to the competition itself, this year's event offers plenty of reasons for a drink. Here, some recommendations where you can raise a glass to the cup.
Highbrow Bars and Restaurants:
On July 4, the brand-new Waiheke Island Yacht Club will open its doors on the historic Pier 29, offering savvy sailing enthusiasts an intimate spot to catch the action while hobnobbing with sailing elite. Billing itself as a pop-up restaurant, the temporary hot spot offers dining for 97, including a communal table and chef’s counter, where you can feast on New Zealand cuisine with California influences as well as Kiwi-crafted beer, all while wagering on the day’s winners.
Another sure-to-be-popular spot that will debut on July 4: America’s Cup Sports Bar, located on Pier 27. The massive bar, which will serve California wines and hand-crafted cocktails and is helmed by some of San Francisco’s veteran industry folks, will offer excellent views of the race action, as well as proximity to slips where the uber-fancy catamarans will be docked.
At San Francisco's The Piers restaurants on Piers One, Three, and Five, special America's Cup menus will debut in July. Take in the high sea's action while sipping an all-American spirit or whiskey at the swanky whiskey lounge Hard Water on Pier 3.
For less highbrow digs, two down-home joints along the waterfront that offer great views without busting the wallet: HiDive, with cheap beer, solid food, and a friendly vibe, and Red's Java House, just south of the Bay Bridge, whose killer burgers earned the praise of television personality Anthony Bourdain a few years ago.
Fisherman’s Wharf is highly touristy, but one surefire bet for seafood and spectating is Alioto’s, a longtime restaurant that's been open since 1925. Tuck into a bowl of steaming cioppino (a local fish stew) while enjoying the views of the bay and boats.
And for some of the cheapest – and the best – seats in the house, don't forget about the beautiful, grassy stretches of Marina Green, especially during the hours between main competitions when there won't be bleachers.
Are you watching the America's Cup? Where will you go to catch the action?