An article recently published in Time Magazine has revealed that a natural sugar found in tequila can help lower blood sugar and aid in weight loss. So, in case you were wondering what to order at the bar, and you’re counting calories, try ordering tequila. It also tastes really good, and, if I may make a recommendation, a nice shot of Siete Leguas Reposado or perhaps a fresh lime juice margarita (I know, even these days) can be a refreshing way to tell yourself that you’re losing weight while drinking tequila.
In the Oakland vein of Ruby Room, Radio and Merchants, The Avenue offers up yet another option for dive bar aficionados in Downtown Oakland. Further away from Downtown than other typical dive bar options, The Avenue stands alone on a stretch of Telegraph dotted with cafes and restaurants. Perhaps a nice respite from the Temescal neighorhood that is quickly beginning to feel a bit too bougie, The Avenue is an unfrilly, skate themed bar where newfangled Oakland pretension is not at home.
With a digital juke box, a pool table and plenty of seating options, The Avenue lends itself more to the regulars who make The Avenue their all day and all night drinking home. There’s the slightly yet endearingly tattered decor, chandeliers adorned in skulls like forgotten Halloween decorations, and more than one nod to the awesomeness of Slayer. The Avenue has a reputation for being home to scummy skater dudes who read Thrasher and appreciate the collection of skateboards on the wall, as well as being home to the women who appreciate those kinds of dudes.
Geo Kaye’s is an unfussy bar tucked on Broadway and 40th, far enough away from the quickly gentrifying Uptown but still close enough to be a destination worth going to when you want to get away from the glitz of Telegraph Avenue. Located across the street from an all night laundromat, Geo Kaye’s steers away from the overdone ambiance of other local bars, opting, instead, for neon beer signs and a digital juke box. Geo Kaye’s feels like an untouched gem, often times with a few people hanging at the bar, drinking alone. With an unpretentious selection of liquors and beers that can cost you $5.25 (and, yes, they will give you quarters with your change), Geo Kayes is a good place to get away from a typical night of drinking in Oakland.
Geo Kayes is the type of bar where you wouldn’t expect to run into the same people that you see at all the other bars in Oakland. With a taciturn, older bar tender slowly pouring shots, and that hard to capture neighborhood bar feel, Geo Kayes is the type of bar where you can hang out. It’s not a party bar or a place to pick up chicks. It’s a place to hunker down while playing Frank Sinatra on the digital juke box, a place to sip your beer and meander in and out of conversation with your fellow bar mates, a place to spend an evening drinking before stumbling down the block back home with quarters in your pocket and plenty of bang for your buck.
I guess I should start out by saying that I worked at The Night Light for a year and a half, and, therefore, my fondness and inner knowledge of the bar far surpasses that of an average bar fly, which is what I aspire to be with this blog. However, seeing as it’s been six months since I worked there, I thought I might show them some Oakland Alcohol love. So, here goes with feigned objectivity:
The Night Light is a split level venue-slash-bar located in Jack London Square. The Night Light is an obvious post-Beer Rev day drinking, moving onto hard liquor for all hours of the night option. With a wide selection of whiskies and a cocktail menu that draws on classic cocktails, it’s a good place to cozy into the leather upholstered furniture and drink away. The velvet flocked wallpaper, darkly stained bar and other subtle nautical elements give it a speakeasy-cum-ship captains quarters drinking vibe, which is perfect for an evening of dressing up and pretending to get drunk in a different decade.
SomaR is my new favorite bar in Uptown Oakland for about a million reasons. While most other bars in the neighborhood have a reputation for catering to the condo-dwelling, buttoned up, San Francisco-run-off hipster crowd, SomaR is always host to a diverse, un-uptight crowd more inclined to dancing and perusing the art by local street artists. SomaR is a family run establishment that staffs upbeat, easy going bartenders. The sense of family is extended beyond the staff and to the customers, what with a joyous, drunken attitude that sets the tone for the bar. SomaR is the type of bar that reminds you how fun it is to get drunk with friends, listen to good music and cut up the rug a bit.
SomaR is a bar favored by Oakland natives. On any given night of the week, DJs, bartenders, social workers, teachers and businessmen and women who are originally from the Bay Area gather at SomaR, and stories about growing up in Oakland, living in Oakland and drinking in Oakland abound. SomaR frequently features Happy Hour DJs, making it your best bet for rowdy post-work intoxication within a two block radius from 19th Street BART. On weekend nights, SomaR becomes a thumping club with a line full of scantily clad women and men with big-dick swagger. With a well edited selection of liquors, including an emphasis on whiskeys, it’s easy to find something to sip on while in good company, listening to good music.
Well, a new post is long overdue on this blog, so I thought I’d jump it off with everyone’s most hotly debated bar type: the tiki bar. While yours truly definitely has a soft spot for the sweetly flavored rum-based drinks served in a faux-island, bamboo-sheathed setting, tiki bars have, over the years, garnered a reputation as tacky, racist establishments that serve over-sweetened drinks that fall short of the modern trend towards classic cocktails and mixology. With that in mind, it’s important to remember that California is the birthplace of many original tiki establishments, Trader Vic’s in Emeryville being the longest standing and most notorious. It may be easy to sweep the tiki-themed bar under the rug, but much in the same way that sugar burrows cavities into your teeth, tiki bars have carved out a kitschy niche for themselves and their dedicated aficianados. If you’re in the Bay Area, the tiki bar is here to stay, so we might as well accept it and be open to what they have to offer.
The Terrace Room is one of those underrated, unseen Oakland gems that is tucked away a few blocks up from the hustle and bustle of the Oakland Uptown bar scene. Certainly, it’s a building we’ve all seen before while jogging around the lake or on the way to Ruby Room, but what few people know is that the Terrace Room is open to the public and not just a senior assisted living center.
The Terrace Room is located in a historic Oakland building and is both a bar and restaurant. Built in 1927, the building itself has a rich history and was at one point a popular venue for famous jazz musicians. The few times I’ve been there, it’s always been fairly empty, perhaps due to the fact that everyone thinks it’s an senior home, or maybe everyone just overlooks it. Regardless, the Terrace Room bar is comfy in a staying up late at your grandparent’s and drinking their booze with your friends while everyone else sleeps kinda way. It’s overly bright and garishly pink in an 80’s pastel undertone, and the smattering of drinkers is usually limited to a three or four small groups of people. With an undulating couch, a beautiful mural, and a dining room with floor to ceiling glass windows that overlook Lake Merritt, the Terrace Room offers underwrought ambiance with a touch of the sense of removal from the rest of the Oakland bar scene.
Here’s a bit of shameless self promotion. I came up with this Thanksgiving cocktail a week ago, and though I might share it with all you Oakland Alcohol readers. It’s available at Plum Bar, and I painstakingly made 50 Liters of cranberry juice last week in order to keep it on the menu. Now, mind you, making cranberry juice is no simple task. It took me about two hours to boil the cranberries, water, sugar and sliced orange, let it cool, blend it and double strain it. Granted, this homemade cranberry juice isn’t exactly the soda gun, sugary sweet, barely tart and barely cranberry concoction that you might be expecting. Instead, it’s thick, textured, tart and jammy, which lends to a thick, not-too-sweet cocktail. The nocino walnut liqueur and the cranberry marry together with the sweetness of honey and the pepper of rye whiskey, all cut with a bit of lime, for a complex yet warming cocktail. Come check it out!
Coach Sushi does not offer bottomless sake. Instead, they offer refillable sake, which definitely sounds like a classier, less indulgent, less bait for freshly 21 college assholes version of what is basically just bottomless sake. They’re fairly aware of the consequences of offering refillable sake, so, as I sat down to eat and drink, it was warming to see that they had a small warning about drinking too much along with a list of phone numbers for cabs.
The refillable sake comes in thick wood boxes, and Coach, an older Japanese man, walks around the small restaurant with a giant bottle of sake, topping off the boxes for people who do and do not want more sake. It’s not something you ask for, or something you can refuse, it’s just there: an ever present, almost overflowing square wooden box full of sake.
Now, if you’re the type of person who believes in moderation, or calorie counting, or knowing exactly how much you’ve had to drink already, this experience might not be for you. If you’re the type of person who likes to drink to a blackout on a regular occasion, then this is probably your cup of tea, because bottomless mimosas and refillable sake live in the same realm of beckoning all ilk of alcoholics.
The small boxes seem like a primitive cup, but they lend to the fun of drinking, as with the first sip you lift the box to your mouth and try to figure out what’s the best way to open your mouth to this too thick box full of seemingly inaccessible booze. Note to beginners: the corner acts as a small spout, and the woodiness of the box lends to the earthiness of the sake. A small dab of salt on the corner to open up the flavors, and the ever flowing sake can be both the first memory of the evening and the last thing you remember drinking that night.
I’ll be honest - I don’t even remember how much the masu sake costs, but it might be only $6 (if my memory serves me right, which it might not, seeing as I was drinking boatloads of sake). It’s not something they advertise on the website, The food is also, of course, amazing, but, hey, this blog is about alcohol, not food, so let’s stick to the script.
Best time to go When you don’t have work the next day
Location 532 Grand Ave
Links Website link - although no mention of refillable sake
I found myself wondering alone around the Lakeshore bar hopping area one of these recently cold nights, when I remembered that Archie (formerly of Tribune Tavern and Plum Bar) might be working at the New Easy. I was waiting for a friend, but when drinking alone at a bar it’s always kinda nice to at least have the bartender for a friend, so that the drinking alone doesn’t feel too lonely.
I’m always impressed with the New Easy drink menu, which offers about eight or so delightfully complicated drinks that feature infused liquors, offbeat liqueurs and unexpected ingredients. As a cocktailer, it’s hard for me to decide which drink is the best one to get, so I tend to go for the weirdest drink with the weirdest ingredients, which was why I wound up ordering the Yeti Tracks.