The East Bay’s best whiskey, gin and vodka to give for the holidays


A selection of cocktails from Viridian’s Red Envelope Lunar New Year pop-up.


Jeremy Chiu

sixteen Strong Cocktail Bars in the East Bay

The finest places to drink cocktails in Oakland, Berkeley, and beyond

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The East Bay cocktail scene is thriving and beyond serving upwardly the classics, many of the bars are experimenting with ingredients and flavors in exciting ways. And unlike neighboring San Francisco, many of the confined in the sunny side of the Bay take the benefit of ample outdoor seating. Bank check out these sixteen spots that can serve a decently stiff drinkable, from Albany to downtown Oakland.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activeness for the unvaccinated; it may pose a risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial COVID manual.

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One of the best bars in the Bay Area, period. This divey spot in beautiful and quaint Albany is alive with retro charm, from the excellent neon sign to the low, pressed tin ceiling that glows softly in the light. Most important, the drinks are consistently excellent, with a large option of spirits of all types.

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Though this trendy and bustling Mexican restaurant is primarily a dining destination, the dorsum patio is reserved for drinking and snacking on chips, salsa, and guacamole. Snag a seat at one of the communal tables, or around the fire pit, and catch a classic margarita from the patio cart that is stationed there on busy nights. Striking up the back bar for a Paloma or Jack Satan (reposada tequila, hibiscus, inferno tincture, lime, and salt) and savor the fresh air.

  • Open in Google Maps

  • Foursquare





Comal/Facebook

Study Hall actually makes the case for the necessity of
more
rooftop bars in Berkeley. The views of the Cal campus — this will be a prime number spot for alumni gatherings, one would guess — along with the Oakland and San Francisco cityscapes, pair well with Report Hall’s spirited have on cocktail classics, and brand this spot an easy bet for groups.

  • Open in Google Maps

A rendering showing tables and chairs in front of a plant wall on a roof.


Study Hall

Easily the best bar in the expanse, Prizefighter is off the beaten path in Emeryville. A roomy, low-lit bar is accompanied by a very pleasant patio. The drink menu is categorized by punch bowls, mixed cocktails, wine, beer, sherry, and all-time of all, “from the freezer,” a choice of batched cocktails kept at freezing temps and requiring no shaking or water ice.

  • Open in Google Maps

  • Foursquare





Ellen Fort

If you’re line-fishing for ramen, y’all might as well catch a cocktail and sit awhile, because you’re going to await at this super popular Rockridge spot. Luckily the eatery expanded into a neighboring luggage shop to create a standalone cocktail bar. Shochu highballs, mixed drinks, and a big option of Japanese whiskies are all pleasant time-killers that are also worth a visit to the bar on their ain merits.

  • Open in Google Maps

  • Foursquare




In an unassuming building at the intersection of Emeryville and Oakland lies Laurels Kitchen, a craft cocktail spot lurks. Accolade bills itself as a “gastropub,” with nutrient items similar bone marrow brulee and fried craven. Really though, it’southward all most the cocktails and hilariously skilful list of spirits, including a option of Pappy Van Winkles.

  • Open in Google Maps




Ellen Fort

It’south easy to get distracted by all the wonderful not-cocktail bits of Due north Light: in that location’s the book department, the charmingly lo-fi scratchiness of records played over the speakers, plus the cozy barside and patio out dorsum. Just the drinks at Due north Lite are their own worthy reason to cease in, with a bar menu put together by a team that obviously loves experimenting with flavors. Most of the drinks come with a strong spirits courage then expand into unusual ingredients, such every bit the Jaguar Shark cocktail, made with whisky, lemon, egg white, orgeat, orangish curacao, toasted sesame oil, and squid ink. Given the carte, the bartenders are unsurprisingly not agape to attempt something new on customers, if you ask politely.

  • Open in Google Maps

Inside this welcoming oasis on 25th Street is a bar and dorsum patio filled with plants, splendid cocktails, and natural vino. Cocktails are from owner Blake Cole, a longtime cocktail pro, who opened the bar with an all-female squad just as the pandemic began. At present it’s back open, with a nod from the James Beard Foundation; the pro-motility is to lodge shrimp cocktail to pair with a “grandma’south standard” cocktail fabricated with gin, dry out vermouth, and a twist.

  • Open in Google Maps

  • Foursquare

A hidden backyard patio lurks beneath a redwood tree in an otherwise no-frills bar. Cocktails are skillfully executed, simply at that place’due south no pretension at this Oakland bar.

  • Open up in Google Maps

  • Foursquare





The Double Standard

Viridian is offering up truly gorgeous cocktails in a moody, cinematic space in uptown Oakland, along side dim sum and sweets that are just every bit photogenic (and succulent). A team of seriously talented Bay Area hospitality veterans are behind it, with feel at Lazy Bear, Moongate Lounge, and more. Drinks like the Yuzu Bamboo combine Asian flavors like yuzu, sesame, and Shao Xing wine with vermouth and curaçao, while a Baijiu Groni is a have on a negroni using Japanese gin, Baijiu, Italian bitter, vermouth, and assistant.

  • Open in Google Maps

Perhaps it’s cliched to call a place a “vibe” only it could easily be said about True cat House. From the vintage furniture to the plants to the skylight — information technology’s all a big vibe, and that’s not even mentioning the cocktails. Await strong, expertly-made cocktails with proficient touches from the team, such as the house-made tonic that goes into the G&Ts. Dear Irene is a standout, a blended gin drink made with coconut, ginger, mint, and lime that’s a squeamish refreshing cocktail to take while sitting around with friends.

  • Open up in Google Maps

The fun of Drexl isn’t just based on the fact that there’southward a Skee-Ball car to play on — although, it certainly adds to the temper. It’southward also about the intendance and attending the bar staff puts into its drinks. Drexl’south social media presence is filled with drinks the group seems to exist playing with at the moment, and the menu highlights ingredients and alcohols not-frequently-used in cocktails stateside: including kummel, fino, mastikha, mole bitters, and more.

  • Open up in Google Maps

  • Square

Greyhounds are the order of the twenty-four hours hither, where the bartenders juice bushels and bushels of fresh grapefruits for the bar’s most popular drink. There’s other liquor available of grade, simply this classic East Bay institution is known for its archetype citrus refresher. Live jazz and dazzlingly eclectic wall-hangings volition keep drinkers occupied for hours.

  • Open up in Google Maps

Those with an appreciation for all things jazz, or who take a knowledge and appreciation for Japan’southward hello-fi listening confined, will find a favorite in Bar Shiru. The atmosphere is more low-central than nearly bars you lot’ll observe in Oakland, with vinyl spinning as patrons sit down and listen while they drinkable — rather than a standing crowd overpacking the identify. The drinks are equally specialized as the music is; try a Japanese whisky flight or a specialty cocktail every bit the music floats through the air.

  • Open in Google Maps




Bar Shiru

It’southward difficult to say what’s the truthful describe at Sobre Mesa, what with its strong cocktail list and as-strong tapas and dessert menu courtesy of chef-possessor Nelson German. But no matter: whatever lures you to this Oakland Afro-Latino cocktail lounge volition be worthy of your time. If yous movement past the (solid) classic cocktails, try the bar’s more than unique offerings like the Spice Me Down, which combines two types of rum with a spiced pear liqueur, soursop puree, and jerk bitters. For those who prefer to stay dry out, there are three specialty options, as well equally a low-ABV offering.

  • Open up in Google Maps

A view of the main bar at Sobre Mesa.


Thomas Kuoh

The Kon-Tiki does not waver in its absolute dedication to the tiki genre, from its interior adorned with fishing nets and palm fronds to the carved statues that welcome guests at the door. Take hold of an extremely potent rum drink and a seat in the palapa, before adding a fried craven sandwich or burger to the society.

  • Open in Google Maps

Hotsy Totsy Order

One of the best bars in the Bay Area, period. This divey spot in cute and quaint Albany is alive with retro charm, from the excellent neon sign to the low, pressed can ceiling that glows softly in the lite. Most of import, the drinks are consistently excellent, with a big option of spirits of all types.

  • Open up in Google Maps

  • Foursquare

Comal

Though this trendy and humming Mexican restaurant is primarily a dining destination, the back patio is reserved for drinking and snacking on chips, salsa, and guacamole. Snag a seat at one of the communal tables, or around the burn down pit, and grab a classic margarita from the patio cart that is stationed at that place on busy nights. Hit up the dorsum bar for a Paloma or Jack Satan (reposada tequila, hibiscus, inferno tincture, lime, and salt) and savor the fresh air.

  • Open in Google Maps

  • Foursquare





Comal/Facebook

Written report Hall Rooftop Lounge

Study Hall really makes the example for the necessity of
more
rooftop confined in Berkeley. The views of the Cal campus — this will be a prime spot for alumni gatherings, one would guess — along with the Oakland and San Francisco cityscapes, pair well with Study Hall’s spirited take on cocktail classics, and make this spot an easy bet for groups.

  • Open in Google Maps

A rendering showing tables and chairs in front of a plant wall on a roof.


Report Hall

Prizefighter

Easily the best bar in the expanse, Prizefighter is off the beaten path in Emeryville. A roomy, low-lit bar is accompanied by a very pleasant patio. The drink bill of fare is categorized by punch bowls, mixed cocktails, wine, beer, sherry, and best of all, “from the freezer,” a selection of batched cocktails kept at freezing temps and requiring no shaking or ice.

  • Open up in Google Maps

  • Square





Ellen Fort

Ramen Shop

If you’re angling for ramen, you might also grab a cocktail and sit awhile, because you’re going to wait at this super popular Rockridge spot. Luckily the restaurant expanded into a neighboring luggage shop to create a standalone cocktail bar. Shochu highballs, mixed drinks, and a big pick of Japanese whiskies are all pleasant time-killers that are likewise worth a visit to the bar on their own merits.

  • Open in Google Maps

  • Foursquare




Honor Kitchen & Cocktails

In an unassuming building at the intersection of Emeryville and Oakland lies Laurels Kitchen, a craft cocktail spot lurks. Honor bills itself as a “gastropub,” with food items similar bone marrow brulee and fried craven. Really though, it’s all about the cocktails and hilariously practiced list of spirits, including a selection of Pappy Van Winkles.

  • Open up in Google Maps




Ellen Fort

North Light

It’s easy to get distracted past all the wonderful non-cocktail bits of N Light: there’southward the volume section, the charmingly lo-fi scratchiness of records played over the speakers, plus the cozy barside and patio out back. But the drinks at North Calorie-free are their own worthy reason to stop in, with a bar menu put together by a team that obviously loves experimenting with flavors. Most of the drinks come with a strong spirits courage and then expand into unusual ingredients, such as the Jaguar Shark cocktail, made with whisky, lemon, egg white, orgeat, orange curacao, toasted sesame oil, and squid ink. Given the carte, the bartenders are unsurprisingly non afraid to try something new on customers, if you enquire politely.

  • Open in Google Maps

Friends & Family

Within this welcoming haven on 25th Street is a bar and back patio filled with plants, excellent cocktails, and natural wine. Cocktails are from owner Blake Cole, a longtime cocktail pro, who opened the bar with an all-female squad just as the pandemic began. Now it’s back open, with a nod from the James Bristles Foundation; the pro-movement is to order shrimp cocktail to pair with a “grandma’s standard” cocktail fabricated with gin, dry vermouth, and a twist.

  • Open in Google Maps

  • Foursquare

The Double Standard

A subconscious lawn patio lurks below a redwood tree in an otherwise no-frills bar. Cocktails are skillfully executed, just there’due south no pretension at this Oakland bar.

  • Open up in Google Maps

  • Square





The Double Standard

Viridian

Viridian is offering up truly gorgeous cocktails in a moody, cinematic space in uptown Oakland, along side dim sum and sweets that are just as photogenic (and delicious). A team of seriously talented Bay Area hospitality veterans are behind it, with feel at Lazy Bear, Moongate Lounge, and more. Drinks similar the Yuzu Bamboo combine Asian flavors like yuzu, sesame, and Shao Xing wine with vermouth and curaçao, while a Baijiu Groni is a take on a negroni using Japanese gin, Baijiu, Italian bitter, vermouth, and assistant.

  • Open in Google Maps

The True cat House

Perchance it’due south cliched to call a place a “vibe” merely it could hands be said about True cat Business firm. From the vintage piece of furniture to the plants to the skylight — it’s all a big vibe, and that’s non even mentioning the cocktails. Wait stiff, expertly-made cocktails with good touches from the team, such every bit the business firm-made tonic that goes into the Yard&Ts. Dear Irene is a standout, a blended gin drink fabricated with kokosnoot, ginger, mint, and lime that’s a overnice refreshing cocktail to have while sitting around with friends.

  • Open in Google Maps

DREXL

The fun of Drexl isn’t just based on the fact that at that place’s a Skee-Ball machine to play on — although, it certainly adds to the atmosphere. It’due south also nearly the care and attention the bar staff puts into its drinks. Drexl’southward social media presence is filled with drinks the grouping seems to exist playing with at the moment, and the menu highlights ingredients and alcohols not-oft-used in cocktails stateside: including kummel, fino, mastikha, mole bitters, and more than.

  • Open in Google Maps

  • Foursquare

Cafe Van Kleef

Greyhounds are the club of the day here, where the bartenders juice bushels and bushels of fresh grapefruits for the bar’s most pop drink. There’s other liquor available of course, but this classic East Bay institution is known for its classic citrus refresher. Live jazz and dazzlingly eclectic wall-hangings will keep drinkers occupied for hours.

  • Open in Google Maps

Bar Shiru

Those with an appreciation for all things jazz, or who have a cognition and appreciation for Nippon’s hi-fi listening confined, will find a favorite in Bar Shiru. The temper is more depression-cardinal than most bars you’ll notice in Oakland, with vinyl spinning as patrons sit down and listen while they drink — rather than a continuing oversupply overpacking the place. The drinks are as specialized as the music is; try a Japanese whisky flying or a specialty cocktail equally the music floats through the air.

  • Open in Google Maps




Bar Shiru

Sobre Mesa

It’s difficult to say what’due south the true describe at Sobre Mesa, what with its strong cocktail list and every bit-stiff tapas and dessert menu courtesy of chef-owner Nelson German. But no matter: whatever lures you to this Oakland Afro-Latino cocktail lounge will be worthy of your fourth dimension. If you motion past the (solid) classic cocktails, try the bar’s more unique offerings similar the Spice Me Down, which combines two types of rum with a spiced pear liqueur, soursop puree, and jerk bitters. For those who adopt to stay dry out, in that location are 3 specialty options, as well as a low-ABV offering.

  • Open in Google Maps

A view of the main bar at Sobre Mesa.


Thomas Kuoh

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The Kon-Tiki

The Kon-Tiki does non waver in its accented dedication to the tiki genre, from its interior adorned with fishing nets and palm fronds to the carved statues that welcome guests at the door. Grab an extremely potent rum drink and a seat in the palapa, before adding a fried chicken sandwich or burger to the club.

  • Open in Google Maps

Related Maps

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Source: https://sf.eater.com/maps/best-cocktails-oakland-berkeley-east-bay

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