Where To Go For: Craft Cocktails
Napa and Sonoma counties are renowned for their vineyards and wineries, but they also offer an impressive cocktail scene for those looking to explore something beyond wine. The region boasts a plethora of bars and restaurants that offer artisanal cocktails made from locally sourced ingredients. From classic cocktails like the Negroni to creative blends incorporating seasonal fruits and herbs, there is something for every taste preference. Visitors can enjoy drinks while taking in stunning views of the vineyards or sipping a cocktail by a cozy fireplace. Whether you’re looking for a romantic night out or a fun afternoon with friends, the cocktail scene in Napa and Sonoma counties is definitely worth exploring.
A local haunt since 1933, Duke’s describes itself as a “cultivated cocktail bar.” Located in a historic building and with a mission to provide a welcoming watering hole for locals and tourists alike, Duke’s has been serving delicious libations to the community of Healdsburg for generations. Completely without pretension, the bar combines the education, enjoyment and experimentation of spirits in a laidback atmosphere that encourages one to stay a while. The menu showcases locally made spirits, beer, and wine as well as a unique selection of brands from across the ocean. If they can’t make it or grow it themselves, they will buy the best that they can.
In the heart of the beautiful Sonoma Valley, Hanson of Sonoma is a family owned and operated distillery and tasting room offering a unique, organic, grape-based, gluten-free and non-GMO vodka. Handcrafted and distilled using a combination pot and 50-plate column still, and infused with real organic ingredients, Hanson’s vodka is pure, clean and incredibly smooth. Reserve a tasting or tour – offered daily – at the gorgeous property. Rural in aesthetic but fun and relaxed in vibe, a guided group tour includes an in-depth look at how spirits are made followed by a seated tasting of Hanson Organic Vodkas. Or book a private event to host friends and family for a Private Mixology or Infusions Class. Additionally, private vodka and food pairings include a multi-course lunch or dinner, or family-style meal with Hanson Vodka Pairings.
Popular with locals and visitors alike, North Bar & Grill has a buzzy bar scene and has quickly become the go-to hotspot for inventive cocktails, craft beers, local wines and globally inspired small plates. Think of your neighborhood “Cheers” where Bartender Reba Jones and Bar Manager Jessica Epting calmly captain the lively bar all while working hard to come up with a new signature cocktail each and every day. To keep things innovative, the pair create their own infusions, mixers and liqueurs from flowers and fruits, using local, organic ingredients whenever possible. Think a flower-infused hibiscus gin, a one-of-a-kind Margarita with housemade butterfly peapod tequila, or the Pink Dragon made with Patron silver, muddled dragon fruit, and housemade cranberry syrup. For the less adventurous there are, of course, the usual suspects like hand-selected wines from Napa, Sonoma, and around the world, as well as craft beers and delicious food and bar bites. Either way, it is endlessly satisfying to note that, whatever you fancy, North Bar & Grill is a warm and welcoming neighborhood spot, perfect for any day of the week.
A sidearm of the popular Napa Valley Distillery, the newly opened ArBARetum is located in the heart of downtown Napa and at the cutting edge of Napa Valley’s cocktail and craft spirits scene. The lively space boasts a vintage vibe and provides the highest level of cocktail service, tastings, and premium spirits in one of the most unique settings in downtown Napa. The ArBARetum is also available for private events for up to 60 people.
Also from the Napa Valley Distillery the Hollywood Bar offers an extensive selection of craft cocktails, premium spirits, and local wines, making it the perfect place to relax and unwind after a long day of exploring the vineyards. The bar’s talented mixologists are experts at creating unique and innovative cocktails using the freshest ingredients, and the menu features a variety of small bites and snacks to pair with your drinks. Whether you’re looking for a sophisticated night out with friends or a romantic evening with your significant other, the Hollywood Bar is a must-visit spot in Napa.
The Barlow is always a fun-filled place to pop in for cocktails, food, wine and shopping. While there, don’t miss Fern Bar, a bar-focused restaurant featuring craft garden-to-glass cocktails. Served in an airy, plant-filled space, Fern Bar features modern American cuisine inspired by West Sonoma County’s abundance of biodiversity. Along with a menu of innovative and delicious dishes, the lively bar scene features house-made beer and spirit-free elixirs, as well as locally sourced and small-production wines.
The spirit of aloha has come to Petaluma with the new Kapu Bar. Loosely translated as “keep out,” the vibe at Kapu is anything but. Warm and welcoming at every turn, with food and drinks that go right alongside. Cocktails include island-inspired concoctions such as the popular Mai Tai and Zombie to less traditional creations such as the Fink Bomb, the Jungle Bird, or the Tropical Itch. The food menu ranges from poke nachos to braised pipikaula and garlic chicken to Ohana-style favorites like adobo fried rice, fried noodles and “stuffed” fish. The funky space has just the right amount of kitsch for plenty of le’ale’a.
Located in historic Courthouse Square, Perch + Plow is restaurant by day and fun bar by night. Known for its eclectic cocktails and ever-evolving menu, Perch + Plow uses the abundance of ingredients endemic to Sonoma County to craft drinks and dishes focused on the freshest possible. Receiving accolades from patrons and winning awards from local media has only strengthened the appeal. With an edgy vibe perfect for guests of all ages - although written up as a hotspot for 20-somethings -
Perch + Plow is sure to delight.
Located in the Lodge at Sonoma Resort, Wit & Wisdom is Chef Michael Mina’s first venture into Wine Country dining. Offering award-winning food and a robust wine list, the restaurant is also known for its eclectic collection of cocktails. Bar Manager, Ken Ariza, along with his team of bartenders are gifted mixologists who are constantly upping the ante in the craft cocktail game. Serving perfectly crafted classic cocktails that adhere to the traditional rules of bartending – think Mai Tais and Old Fashioneds – plus new renditions of old favorites as well as completely innovative creations keeps guests coming back for more. Take The Argonaut for instance. Using a technique called “fat washing,” Redwood Empire Whiskey is infused with browned butter which produces a sublimely silky texture. Combined with Cherry Heering and Cardamaro liqueurs, the delicious drink is practically irresistible. For the warm weather ahead, Ariza has a new drink he calls “Life in a Hammock.” This gin-based concoction includes Yuzu, Limoncello, Lavender syrup, Fino sherry, and Rose wine foam for a cocktail that is not too tart and not too sweet. As with all the cocktails at Wit & Wisdom, balance is key as are seasonal ingredients for a drinks menu that changes four times each year.
Spring has sprung and with it, a plethora of new cocktail offerings from HopMonk Sebastopol. Bar Manager/Assistant Manager and all around cocktail connoisseur, Kylie Schlobohm, is taking her cues from the profusion of wildflowers popping up following months and month of rain. Using local ingredients wherever possible, Schlobohm mentioned a couple of her favorites. Pink Petals is made with rose water, local raspberries, and egg white for a frothy, beautifully pink-hued drink. The Macha Colada uses green tea macha powder – very Sebastopol-esque says Schlobohm - pineapple juice, a bit of coconut, and mint for a new spin on a pina colada. The cocktail program typically includes a clarified milk punch and the newest rendition is a dreamy take on a creamsicle. An adult version of an all-time favorite from the ice cream truck and perfect for warm weather, this delicious cocktail makes use of local citrus, primarily from employee’s orange and Meyer lemon trees. Schlobohm says that customers are always enthusiastic about new offerings, especially when they embrace the change of seasons. She also pointed out that the tavern hosts a huge summer music series.