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Jan 29, 2010 10:57 AM

Cocktails in South Bay?

It's Friday and it's going to be 5pm soon!

Ideally looking for a great place that has innovated classic cocktails, ala, Bourbon & Branch, or at the very least pour a fantastic classic, like at the Ritz. I recognize that San Jose and the South Bay aren't as innovate in both food & cocktails...but I'm a hope springs eternal type of gal.

When I'm carving a well made cocktail, I generally head to The Grill at the Fairmont, but I'm looking for a change....anyone know of a good bartender hiding? Someplace I haven't run into already?


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  1. Didn't get a chance to reply yesterday...

    My first thought was The Grill too as the Merc recently did an article on hotel bars : ) Haven't been but heard The Plumed Horse in Saratoga has a gorgeous bar.

    In addition to The Grill, the Hedley Club at Hotel De Anza was mentioned too; here's the link to the article.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ceekskat

      A few years late, but finally checked out the Hedley Club. It's San Jose, but it's a pleasant scene.

      I would call the cocktails solid, but not exceptional. The house manhattan was a good rendition, an unusual bourbon, but nothing super special. Same with my GF's somewhat forgettable up cocktail - I had a sip but couldn't remember at this point what it was. Next time, I'll stick to something even simpler.

      We had bar bites, and they were slightly above hotel food but not too far. The pizza was very thin, nice char, but again nothing special. Same with the meatballs, beets, brussel sprouts - all share plates. A cut above what I was expecting, but not great, and very expensive for what we got (not a lot of food, 1 cocktail each, one beer, good music, $50/pp out the door). Very fast service.

      The jazz was the best no-cover jazz I've heard. Best jazz? Hardly - but very good for san jose, in a nice intimate room that's not arranged as a concert hall. The room itself is vintage 30's, and architecturally pleasant. High ceilings are always good for music, and this place has high ceilings.

      The crowd, I would call them "mixed", but they weren't actually mixed. There were some older pensioners, some music lovers, a just married couple in their wedding outfits, a gaggle of young women in clubbing outfits, a bunch of 30-something techies on date night.

      There wasn't quite room for everyone, but people would stand around for 5 minutes, then squeeze in somewhere. Share a table, make some new friends. More of a small town atmosphere than anyplace in SF or even berkeley.

      Did I mention no cover?

      We will return, but we'll organize it so we have dinner elsewhere and one cocktail here.

      [ Also: we parked several blocks away and rode the City Bike Share bikes over. There's a bank of them right in front of the De Anza. ]

    2. Greater palo alto has quite a bit of cocktail action, but not what I'd call the south bay.

      (I like Mantra, Tamerine, Xahn, 3 Seasons - nothing's Bourbon and Branch quality but still not bad)

      You might have to do a survey and report ----

      1 Reply
      1. re: bbulkow

        I dined at Xahn last night, perhaps thinking of it after this thread, and was disappointed by the cocktails. My classic manhattan was average, the drinks list was filled with things like blueberry-tinis instead of innovative cocktails. Scratch that.

        If one does thing Menlo Park is in the south bay (I don't), Flea Street is an underappreciated gem for cocktails.

      2. I really like Xahn on Castro St. Maybe not exactly the place for classic cocktails, but a great cocktails, awesome innovative Fusion-style salads and appetizers, great vibe.

        1. It's just Saturday night, so maybe this is still useful. How about the bar attached to Madera at the Rosewood Hotel in Menlo Park? Very stylely and I enjoyed the one drink I had there a while ago.

          1. Any firsthand reports on the cocktails at Dio Deka or Forbes Mill in Los Gatos?

            2 Replies
            1. re: Melanie Wong

              Having eaten at Dio Deka a few times in the past year, I would describe the cocktails as well done classic gentlemen's club. My rye Manhatten at the last visit, came with really good cherriies and the chrome shaker with the excess. Not a place for new wave mixology but the standards are done very well by.

              1. re: budnball

                I get down to Dio Deka once a year or so. I consider it more of a wine place, I think I had a cocktail there and it was good --- but would order classics.