The Kentucky Derby is Saturday, May 3. Lily's Bistro is among the Dayton area bars throwing bashes. Manager Emily Mendenhall demonstrates how to make an easy Mint Julep.

The 10 best places to go in Dayton if you want a memorable bourbon

All bourbon is whiskey, but not all whiskey is bourbon

It can be an enjoyable adventure — exploring your bourbon palette, getting to know your likes and dislikes — as long as you are able to remember the journey.

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Lucky for us, Dayton could almost be considered a destination for such ventures, as we boast many charming bars with tons of bourbon options and an exclusive bourbon bar, The Century Bar, that’s regularly mentioned in national bourbon “best of” lists. 

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Here’s some of the best places in the Gem City to grab a bourbon or a Mint Julep during Derby weekend:

>>Downtown Dayton bar makes ‘best of’ national list

The Century Bar

10 S. Jefferson St., Dayton

Here’s the skinny on our top pick for the best place to get bourbon in Dayton:

Century Bar co-owner Joe Head pours his seasonal cocktail the Sleepy Holler. JIM WITMER/STAFF

The Century Bar is almost definitely Dayton’s best-kept secret. Although it’s not much of a secret anymore after all the recognition it has received for its phenomenal whiskey and cocktail menu. Tucked away on South Jefferson Street, the bar has a humble exterior entrance that places you in a different era once you step inside. Soon, it will have a new and bigger home.

>> Century Bar moving to a bigger space

Century refreshes their seasonal menu many times a year, and features one-of- a-kind concoctions for their loyal patrons to try. 

Century might be at the top of our Dayton bourbon destination list — and for good reason — but there are many bars in the area serving something strong and memorable: 

Did we miss your favorite stop? Let us know at and we’ll be sure to check it out.

Joseph Head, manager of Century Bar: a Bourbon House, gives step-by-step demo on making a watermelon mint julep. Video by Amelia Robinson

Oakwood Club

2414 Far Hills Ave., Oakwood

The Oakwood Club
Photo: HANDOUT/Dayton Daily News

The Paragon

797 Miamisburg Centerville Road, Dayton

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Photo: The Paragon Facebook

Lily’s Bistro

329 E. Fifth St., Dayton

Lily's Bistro Bar Manager Amber Brady with her Mule-tide cocktail. Contributed photo by Alexis Larsen

Corner Kitchen

613 E. Fifth St., Dayton

Jack and Natalie Skilliter pictured in front of the bar at their Oregon District restaurant, Corner Kitchen. CONTRIBUTED

Coco’s Bistro

250 Warren St., Dayton

CoCo's Sweater Weather cocktail being made by bartender Nick Hunt. JIM WITMER/STAFF

Wheat Penny Oven and Bar

515 Wayne Ave., Dayton

Wheat Penny Bartender Brock McKibben with the summer cocktail Autopilot. Made with Hendrick's Gin, House Made Cucumber Mint Basil Syrup, Creme De Violette, Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice, Cucumber Garnish. JIM WITMER/STAFF


20 S. 1st St., Miamisburg

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Photo: Watermark Facebook

The Wellington Grille

2450 Dayton Xenia Road, Beavercreek

Mary Miller has quietly owned and operated Miami Valley restaurants that are very diverse in their concepts and geography: The Barnsider in Harrison Twp., the Wellington Grille in Beavercreek, Harrison's in Tipp City, and recently became co-founder of an Asian restaurant, Ginger & Spice, on Brown Street near the University of Dayton. This is a woman in her '70s who tried to retire once and couldn't do it, choosing to come back and work seven days a week in her restaurants.JIM WITMER / STAFF
Photo: Jim Witmer

Crafted & Cured

531 Wayne Ave., Dayton

Crafted & Cured opened last year in a Wayne Avenue building that soon will welcome three other businesses. STAFF