5 Great Bars in Sonoma County
When you’re craving a delicious craft cocktail in Sonoma County, you’re in very good luck - there are many terrific bars and lounges waiting to serve you classic and unique blends of local and international spirits, plus top-notch local wines, beers, and ciders, too.
You might be in downtown Sonoma, and dreaming of an elegant Fig Kiss of Figcello di Sonoma, St. Germain elderflower liqueur and cranberry juice served at the iconic the girl & the fig; or a seasonal-sensational Farmer Carrie's Margarita at the hip-divey new Starling Bar, made with muddled Kenwood strawberries, black pepper tincture, reposado tequila, citrus juice and a salt-pepper rim.
Each Sonoma County town is a unique destination for intriguing, tasty drinks.
Consider hiring a driver so you can focus on enjoying your cocktails' flavors without worry—and try these five wonderful places to wet your whistle:
Fern Bar, Sebastopol
This gorgeous, garden-inspired spot is the work of Lowell Sheldon and Natalie Goble, the talented duo who also owns the nearby and excellent Handline. They draw produce from their own nearby Two Belly Acre farm, for quaffs like a Wimbledon that's a twist on the classic Pimm’s spice-and citrus-infused gin.
Here, the cocktail sings with homemade gin infusion, a blend of gin, vermouth, Cointreau, sliced cucumber, raspberries and strawberries, rosemary sprigs, mint leaves, pineapple sage leaves, and sliced orange, all mingled for 24 hours. Then the barkeep mixes the beauty with lemon juice, homemade ginger gum syrup, cucumber chunks, raspberries, and Angostura Bitters, all poured over ice and garnished with mint and more cucumbers and berries.
The décor celebrates plants and fashion, as well, with lots of ferns flourishing in-wall and hanging planters, fern-print wallpaper, tufted leather banquettes, faux fur throws on lounge chairs, macramé art, and nightly live music.
And for cocktail lovers who aren't in the mood for spirits, the barkeeps whip up excellent mocktails, too, such as the refreshing Spirited Away in a mix of makrut lime, matcha, lemongrass-galangal syrup, and Seedlip, a non-alcoholic spirit that tastes similar to gin.
Stay over at Fairfield Inn & Suites, just south of town.
Duke's Spirited Cocktails, Healdsburg
This upscale, Prohibition-inspired lounge tempts with produce-inspired quaffs and the Art Deco charm of a 1933 building. Though Duke's bartenders can create just about anything your heart desires, the focus here is on seasonal drink recipes made with herbs, flowers, fruit, and vegetables grown in local gardens, orchards, and vineyards.
The stylish setting features chalkboard menus, bronze industrial lighting, a long bar, raw-wood-and-metal communal tables, and a party atmosphere that goes well into the late night.
Stay over in a private vineyard rental home at Healdsburg's Zo Wines.
Bird & the Bottle, Santa Rosa
At this masterpiece from owners Mark and Terri Stark, a bustling lounge sits in the center of the restaurant, with more lounge seating on one side, and a somewhat secluded dining room on the other. Make a reservation for lunch or dinner, arrive and go directly to the bar to mingle with regulars such as community leaders, artists, and winemakers, then head to your table. If you're really lucky, you might be able to walk right in and snag a seat at the bar, where you'll want to spend the whole evening.
The cocktails are works of art here, from the Shiso Pretty (a crisp quaff of St. George vodka, spiced pear, shiso shrub and lime) to the I'm All Ears (a bold blend of mellow corn whiskey, tamarind, elote orgeat, egg whites, and bacon Tabasco bitters).
Stay over at The Sandman Hotel, a retro-renovated roadside inn in Santa Rosa.
Geyserville Gun Club, Geyserville
This groovy, dimly-lit hideaway is owned by Dino Bugica's team, who also own the Michelin Bib Gourmand and Zagat-rated Diavola Pizzeria next door. Set in the historic Odd Fellows Building, G.G.C. serves clever, seasonal cocktails like the Spaghetti Western (Petaluma's Griffo Stout Whiskey, Carpano Antica, Campari, tobacco bitters and orange bitters) or the lighter, refreshing Day Drinker (light rum, raspberry syrup, fresh lime and ginger beer).
Round the party out with fresh fish crudos, Latin and Asian street food, and hearty bar bites like the bacon-wrapped Tijuana Dog smothered in jalapenos, fried onions, pico de gallo, cheddar, and secret sauce.
Stay over at the quaint, quiet Geyserville Inn just up the block.
Perch and Plow, Santa Rosa
Overlooking Santa Rosa's Courthouse Square, the views headline this creative cocktail bar and restaurant. Ask for a seat by the window, look out at the Empire Building clock tower, and savor shareable snacks and small plates paired with innovative cocktails like the applewood-smoked Smoking Gun.
You could also book a table on the front patio or in the dining room with friends, and if you can't decide on a drink, simply go with the Cocktail Flight to share among your party.
Stay over at the brand new, four-star boutique Hotel E, just on the other side of the square.
Written by Sonoma Insider Carey Sweet.