Whiskey Lounges for Winter in Sonoma County
This is the time of year that brown liquors shine at whiskey lounges in Sonoma County. As winter settles in across Wine Country, thoughts turn to full bodied red wines instead of crisp whites, from pale Pilsner beers to hearty Porters, and from light dishes to stews, roasts, and deep savory braises.
Bourbon, whiskey, brandy, Scotch, cognac, dark rum and aged tequila take center stage. Bartenders across Sonoma County unveil special concoctions in a myriad of recipes, all designed to warm the soul. This is a great time to take a tour of local speakeasies, lounges, bars and restaurants to see what’s new and inventive.
Consider hiring a driver, too. A chauffeur adds immensely to the pleasure of such pub crawls, since you can focus on enjoying the cocktail flavors without worrying about driving. It’s also a great idea to go as a group, and share drinks. Sipping across a variety of cocktails adds to the exploratory pleasure!
Lift a glass at these noteworthy destinations:
Debuted this summer in Healdsburg, the upscale, Prohibition-inspired lounge tempts with garden inspired quaffs served in a stylish, 1933 building. Created by former Spoonbar staffers Laura Sanfilippo, Tara Heffernon, and Steve Maduro, the hip space concocts with herbs and flowers grown at home by Heffernon, plus fresh fruits and vegetables grown in Sanfilippo’s orchard and vineyard. Drinks change seasonally, but right now, we’re sipping Ms. Bojangles of Four Roses Bourbon, House Root Beer, Fernet Branca, Bitters, and Phosphate; Sage Advice of Osocalis Brandy, Rittenhouse Rye, Nocino della Cristina, Sage and Amaro Sibilla; and the U Down With OGD of Old Grand-Dad Bourbon, Glenlivet 12, Coconut, Cinnamon, Gran Classico and Egg White.
Just opened in fall, this airy, industrial-chic tasting room focuses on housemade ciders paired with French-American pub dishes. The work of former Ace Cider brewmaster David Cordtz and his son Robert Cordtz, the bar boasts 23-taps, including a 100 percent Gravenstein cider, a single-orchard Golden Delicious cider from De La Montanya Vineyard, and a Hefewiezen-like cider, fermented with beer yeast and bananas. The Anvil is a satisfying winter sip, marrying fermented apples and alcohol-free bourbon for crispness and smoke, and a warming zip of 6% ABV.
Just over a year old, the decidedly casual Whiskey Tip bar in the Roseland area of Santa Rosa is a true charmer. Relax amid graffiti-mural walls, play some Beer Pong and nibble Bacon Bomb bacon-wrapped jalapeno tater tots, then be prepared for some truly inventive cocktails. In warmer months, we love the Cotton Tail of Hangar One California grain-grape vodka married with fresh squeezed carrot and lime juices, hand-sliced cucumber, and Cynar artichoke-based bittersweet liqueur infused with 13 herb and plant extracts. In chilly season, we go for sensations like Angel Eyes of Angels Envy barrel-aged finished bourbon, Carpano Antica, Angostura bitters and brandied cherry.