Whether the décor is vintage or sleek, the lighting bright or delightfully dim, and the clientele international, local, or both, there’s nothing quite like kicking back at a bar and enjoying the smooth sophistication of a cocktail.
We’ve stirred up a top-shelf selection of Sonoma County bars, where the barkeeps mix cutting-edge drinks and cocktails, but also know the value of a beloved Negroni and Martini. Cheers!
Perch and Plow, Santa Rosa
The views headline this creative cocktail bar and restaurant, overlooking Santa Rosa’s Courthouse Square. Snag a seat by the window, looking out at the Empire Building clock tower, and enjoy innovative cocktails paired with small bites at Perch + Plow.
Sip and savor innovative cocktails like the Smoking Gun, which is smoked with applewood, or sample seasonal libations like the Seasonal Mule. Or, grab a table in the dining room with friends, and when you can’t decide on a drink, simply go with the Cocktail Flight to share among your party.
Duke’s Spirited Cocktails, Healdsburg
The upscale, Prohibition-inspired lounge on Healdsburg’s plaza specializes in a seasonally rotating menu of cocktails made with local spirits and locally grown herbs, flowers, and fruits. You can request just about anything alcoholic here—including local wine and beer—or choose from ready-made still cocktails, carbonated quaffs, and booze-free beauties.
Set in a 1933 building, the stylish yet comfortable vibe includes chalkboard menus, bronze industrial lighting, a long bar, raw-wood-and-metal communal tables, and a party atmosphere that goes well into the night.
Underwood Bar & Bistro, Graton
The picturesque burg of Graton is tiny, but it’s the heartbeat of western Sonoma County, centered between Occidental, Santa Rosa, and Sebastopol.
From its roots as an apple cannery center, Graton morphed into a dynamic destination when, in 1995, Matthew Greenbaum and Sally Spittles opened Willow Wood Market Café, followed by the sexy, speakeasy-style Underwood Bar & Bistro.
This led the transformation of the town into what Wine Spectator has described as, “New York’s East Village meets Wine Country in this hip gathering spot for local elite winemakers and wine travelers alike.”
Wine and spirits guy Frank Dice creates classic tributes such as the Lulu (named for owner Sally), blending a long pour of Junipero gin with lime and tonic; and delights like an Old Havana Sidecar of Germain-Robin Old Havana brandy, Cointreau, and fresh lemon.
Stark’s Steak & Seafood, Santa Rosa
From the dark, clubby lounge rooms, to the vintage neon sign shining from the rooftop like a beacon in the night, classic steakhouse fare mixes with a modern culinary approach at Stark’s in downtown Santa Rosa’s Historic Railroad Square.
Young and old gather for the vintage-chic mood, supping on corn-fed prime and dry-aged steaks, natural grass-fed beef and, of course, the classic cocktails that complement them so well.
Belly up to barrel-aged cocktails like the Benendictine-kissed Vieux Carre, or entertain yourself with the playful Rose’s Apothecary, a citrus-floral blend of Beefeater Gin, Lillet Rose, lemongrass simple syrup, grapefruit, and egg-white.
Geyserville Gun Club Bar & Lounge, Geyserville
The rustic Geyserville bar and lounge is advertised as a “working man’s bar,” but since this is Sonoma Wine Country, the cocktails are crafted with artisanal, local ingredients, and the stylish setting features hardwood floors, aged brick walls, and fresh flowers. Basically, this is nice “work” if you can get it!
The inventive bar menu focuses on fresh fish crudos, Latin and Asian street food, and there’s a long list of local and international wines and beers. Cocktails are the specialty, though, like the sexy-strong She Devil, made with El Silencio Mezcal, Strega, cherry liqueur, and a light dusting of ghost pepper.
Monti’s, Santa Rosa
The location is urban-central, in the bustling Montgomery Village Shopping Center. The menu and setting are a bit modern, featuring rustic Mediterranean cuisine in a cosmopolitan ambiance and showcasing nightly specials from the wood-fired rotisserie (mmm, love the CK leg of lamb and Liberty Farms lavender-roasted duck).
But a lot of the activity takes place at the bar, offering 40 wines by the glass, and an oyster and shellfish station. Test your endurance with the specialty drinks, since the bartenders are happy to make them stiff; especially delicious is the Twist of Fate, which adds a dash of Roederer Estate brut to elderflower liqueur, Gordon’s Gin, and fresh lemon.
The Saloon at The Jack London Lodge, Glen Ellen
It can be hard to find hard alcohol amid all the vineyards in this Wine Country part of the world. And it can be easy to pass right by this small bar, tucked into the 22-room The Jack London Lodge in Glen Ellen at the gateway to Jack London Historic State Park.
But venture into The Saloon, and find a turn-of-the-century historic room set with sofas and chairs and vintage memorabilia around an antique polished oak bar. The bartender has a skilled, generous hand with classic cocktails, and he pours until at least midnight (busier times find the door open until 2 a.m.). The clientele is mostly locals and, if you don’t have a favorite drink of your own, they’ll gladly recommend their favorite potent libation.
For more ideas, check our listings of Sonoma County Nightlife.
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