Where to Drink the Best Cocktails in California Wine Country

While the first-rate white wines of Napa Valley and Sonoma County are the main draw, there comes a point when you need a break from big, vibrant Cabernet Sauvignon and lighter-bodied Pinot Noir.

In recent years, the ante has been significantly upped when it pertains to the cocktail culture in northern California wine nation. Downtown Napa in specific has actually experienced an awakening thanks to a host of attentively executed drink programs that are on par with the level of excellence gotten out of among the world’s top wine areas.

” The addition of devoted cocktail bars is producing a nightlife scene for downtown Napa, which is something our visitors have actually been missing out on when they check out Napa Valley,” says Aubrey Bailey, co-owner of Cadet Wine and Beer Bar, as well as a highly anticipated, tequila-focused area, Chispa, both of which are right in the area. “When they’ve ended up white wine tasting for the day and are leaving supper, they are not prepared to go back to their hotel. They want to continue their night and the emergence of all these excellent mixed drink locations permits the Napa neighborhood to offer an adult drink for every drinker.”

In Sonoma, the quaint little town of Healdsburg is bursting with amazing drinking locations with seriously great cocktail programs, consisting of the newly reopened Little Saint and Molti Amici (in the former Campo Fina space).

Read on for a tour of some of our preferred cocktail spots in Napa and Sonoma, varying from trusted classics to buzzy new additions to the scene.

Finest mixed drinks in downtown Napa
Chispa
Conveniently located in downtown Napa, Chispa is a brand-new tequila-focused cocktail area (opening in late July/early August 2023) by Aubrey Bailey and Taylor Kindred, the duo behind the precious Cadet Wine & Beer Bar a couple of blocks away. Noteworthy mixed drinks include the Side Eye, made with tequila blanco, bitter pomegranate liqueur, and hibiscus, and the Delta Diamond, made with popcorn-infused tequila reposado, amaro, and corn liqueur.

The bar program is committed to highlighting standard Mexican tastes and active ingredients like corn, tamarind, and molĂ©, along with small, family-owned agave-based spirits. On the food front, the menu features appealing seafood towers and tableside caviar “bumps” served with a shot of tequila. It’s worth noting that Chispa is open daily from midday to 12 a.m.— perfect if you’re trying to find someplace to continue the enjoyable after dinner.
The ArBARetum
The Napa Valley Distillery opened this art-deco barroom in downtown Napa last spring and it quickly ended up being a local favorite for delighted hour beverages and nightcaps. Both the greenery-filled setting and the photogenic, gin-centric mixed drinks, which feature butterflies made with wafer paper and dry flowers, play nicely to the arboretum idea. The San Remo made with Napa Valley Distillery gin, Cointreau, blueberry, and sparkling elderflower soda is a crowd favorite.
Bar Zuzu
Mick Salyer and the group behind Zuzu Tapas & Paella and La Taberna– 2 long-time local favorite establishments positioned on downtown Napa’s Main Street– just recently opened this gin-centric mixed drink bar. If you are looking for more than a liquid meal, order up Zuzu’s paella to go with your mixed drink.
The Bitter Bar
Surrounding to Bar Zuzu on Main Street, The Bitter Bar is a newly refurbished, 1950’s dive bar formerly referred to as Henry’s, where you’ll find the local hospitality insiders and wine makers relaxing after a long day. The drinks at this unfussy surprise gem range from well-executed classic mixed drinks to innovative mixtures with saucy names, like the Mister Banger, with absinthe, sarsaparilla, amaro, and vanilla cream. There’s likewise the Cornhub.com, with vodka, Nixta, cumin, chile, and butter.
Best Cocktail Bars in California Wine Country
Best cocktails in Yountville
Bouchon
Bouchon is perfect for when you’re in the mood for a dependably best, traditional cocktail to delight in together with French bistro-style fare. While you sit at the bar, you’ll rub shoulders with some of Napa’s top winemakers and restaurateurs.

Finest mixed drinks in St. Helena
The Charter Oak
This family-style dining establishment housed in the old Tra Vigne space is a Napa Valley essential for residents and tourists alike. While chef Christopher Kostow’s farm fresh fare might be the main draw here, the craft mixed drink program is not to be ignored.

Best cocktails in Sonoma
Valley

Valley is very first and primary, a white wine bar that highlights biodynamic and natural producers, however this laid-back, cool Sonoma Plaza spot also provides a tasty Cappelletti spritz.They also make a mean Dirty Bamboo, a twist on a traditional Bamboo with white vermouth, fino sherry, and marinaded green tomato salt water that adds mouthwatering, umami notes. While you’re there, attempt a few of meals from the seasonal food menu, consisting of the hard-boiled eggs with savory XO sauce and the roasted half chicken with achiote, sour orange, and cabbage.
Best cocktails in Healdsburg
Little Saint
After SingleThread’s Kyle and Katina Connaughton divided ways with Little Saint at the end of last year, the plant-based Healdsburg restaurant (in the former Shed space) is back up and keeping up a refreshed look thanks to famed dining establishment designer Ken Fulk, who is also Little Saint’s innovative director, along with brand-new menus for the all-day cafe and lounge and the Second Story, a raised dining area that opened this summer season. The cocktail program, run by previous SingleThread executive bar director Matt Seigel, aims to use and commemorate every element that’s collected from the Little Saint Farm. Imperfect produce and currently utilized items that are generally considered as waste are included into the cocktails and mocktails, tonics, and ferments in creative methods, like tepache made from carrot skins.

The menu features imaginative takes on classic cocktails, like the Beet Bloody Mary, made with Red Ace beets, lemon, spices, and your option of spirit. They likewise have a lineup of Italian-inspired coffee cocktails, like the Espresso Martini Float, along with delicious non-alcoholic cocktails, such as the M.E.T. Gala with pistachio, rose, maca, hibiscus, blood orange, and sumac salt. Go and grab a cocktail and delight in Little Saint’s excellent music programs, which, on a current go to, included Phoebe Briders, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker.
Molti Amici
The red wine nation community was deeply saddened when the cherished Healdsburg dining establishment Campo Fina closed its doors last year, but the space is delighting in a second act thanks to SingleThread alums Johnny Barr, Sean McGaughey, and Melissa Yanc. The bocce court and the wood fire oven out on the patio area both remain from the restaurant’s previous life, but the team provided the space a face lift and put their own spin on the Italian food and drink program.

Hannah’s Bar at The Madrona
Originally constructed as a personal house in 1881, this Healdsburg home is now a 24-room, Insta-worthy hotel with an extraordinary art collection commissioned by Lisa Chadwick of San Francisco’s Dolby Chadwick Gallery, a dining establishment run by chef Patrick Tafoya, and an excellent craft cocktail program that draws in regional wine makers and dining establishment owners alike. Sit at Hannah’s Bar, which is named after your house’s original matriarch, and drink on the Estate Martini made with gin, dry vermouth, verjus, and estate nasturtium oil.

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