San Francisco Exploratorium; Adult Happy Hour

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San Francisco Exploratorium; Happy Hour for Adults

You may think that San Francisco’s Exploratorium, a museum of science, art and human perception, is an amazing place to take the kids, but here’s a little secret; this place is happy hour for adults – day and night. While the museum is open during the day, once a year, cocktails and science collide at night during an annual fundraiser for this most spirited of destinations. Here’s why you won’t want to miss this festive gathering.

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San Francisco Exploratorium; Science of Cocktails. Photo ©Kendall C. Brown

Last Friday my boyfriend, Michael, and I were lucky enough to attend the Science of Cocktails, a unique event held annually in January or February at San Francisco’s Exploratorium at Pier 15. This was the eighth annual Science of Cocktails, in which attendees interact with the Exploratorium’s exhibits and learn about the art and science of mixology that created their favorite cocktails. We had heard a lot about the Exploratorium’s kid-friendly exhibits, but this main event was for the 21 and over crowd.

In anticipation of the extravaganza, we browsed the event page on the Exploratorium website for all of the different cocktails served in prior years, and immediately knew that we were in for quite a treat. This year’s event sponsors included a variety of household names in the world of liquor distillery, such as Bulleit Whiskey, Don Julio Tequila, and Tanqueray Gin. Not only were we excited to enjoy various cocktails, we were also happy to know that the proceeds from the event support the Exploratorium’s educational programs.

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Learn the science of cocktails like this citrus diffuser used by Paper Plane Bar to create the “Reincarnation” at the Exploratorium. Photo ©Kendall C. Brown

Once we arrived and made our way inside it became clear that there was a lot of ground to cover! Everywhere we looked across the museum there were open bars set up with a unique cocktail being served at each. We began making our way to the different cocktail booths to grab a drink and found that some of the cocktails were very specialized in their creation. One of our drinks was a gin cocktail, the ‘Reincarnation.’ This impressive booth had an impossible-to-miss contraption on the table that was being used to diffuse citrus from old lemons that would normally have just been thrown away. The citrus was used as one of the key ingredients in the cocktail that also included some Juniper’s Gin. This particular booth was being run by Paper Plane Bar in San Jose, and it was quite interesting to hear George Lahlouh from Paper Plane explain the thought process and science behind one of the tastier cocktails we had all night.

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exploratoriuim after dark, science of cocktails, museum, san francisco, pier 15, california
Exploratorium after dark. Photo ©Kendall C. Brown

In between our stops at the different open-bars we had a great time playing with the Exploratorium’s many exhibits. One of our favorite moments of the night was when we came across a large mirror that gave the visual appearance of flipping you upside down while simultaneously distorting one’s depth perception. You can imagine our enjoyment when we discovered that we could actually ‘toast’’ ourselves in the mirror by getting close enough that it appeared that we were touching our glass together with our own reflection. The night included food with various different cuisines (my favorites were paella, sushi, macaroons) as well as live music, I could not imagine a better way to spend a Friday night!

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Cheers to live music, food & cocktails on Pier 15. Photo ©Kendall C. Brown

Favorite Cocktail: Grandma’s to Blame

  • The Botanist Gin
  • Manzanilla sherry
  • Clarified grapefruit
  • Lavender salt
  • Cointreau
  • Honey
exploratorium after dark, pier 15, san francisco, california
A night without kids. Photo ©Kendall C. Brown

Insider Tip:

Want a night out without the kids? Every Thursday the Exploratorium opens from 6:00 p.m. – 10:00 p.m. You must be 18 years or older to attend this Adults Only night out. Science of Cocktails events takes place annually in January or February, check website for details. Open every day in June, July and August 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. and until 10:00 p.m. on Fridays. Open the rest of the year, Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. For additional insider tips follow Nancy D. Brown on Instagram and Twitter @Nancydbrown and @Exploratorium on Twitter and Instagram.

If You Go:

Exploratorium (415) 528-4444

Pier 15 (Embarcadero at Green Street)

San Francisco, CA 94111

San Francisco Exploratorium Happy Hour for Adults review written by Kendall C. Brown of What a Trip, Travels from Northern California. Photography courtesy Kendall Brown and Michael MacPherson. Kendall received complimentary admission to the “Science of Cocktails” event for review purposes. All views of the event are the opinion of the author.