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Sep 28, 2010 10:53 PM

Cocktail in Oakland uptown: a challenge

Let's say you've got an old friend coming in from out of town. A shared interest is food. You've thought carefully, and one night is Manresa, and the second night is Plum. But you feel bad your friend isn't seeing the best of the bay area's cocktail scene.

Thus, a request: cocktails before Plum.

Downdown/uptown Oakland. If we do after, we can swing into SF, where we could do Romolo or Comstock or Bourbon and Branch or Heaven's Dog or a million other places.

But where to go before Plum? That part of town, I don't mind a repark, but don't want to spoil the evening by a long drive.

I had mind blowing (compared to everywhere I've just listed in SF) cocktails at the Hotsy Totsy, but it's too far north. Nether do I want to traipse over to A Cote - nor do I consider them of the first rank.

I'm kinda figuring between Flora and Sidebar, based on current research.


Manresa Restaurant
320 Village Lane, Los Gatos, CA 95030

A Cote
5478 College Ave, Oakland, CA 94618

1900 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94612

542 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA

Heaven's Dog
1148 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

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  1. Does this friend like bourbon? Because if so, you should definitely go to Pican.

    Pican Restaurant
    2295 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

    1. If you're willing to drive, but not too far, consider Adesso on Piedmont at Pleasant Valley. Once you're done, head straight down Piedmont and make a left on Broadway. I'm guessing this is a five minute drive to Plum. If Adesso is too busy, you could try Cesar a bit further down Piedmont.

      I know it's not really thought of for cocktails, but I love the drinks at Camino on Grand. Definitely a restaurant rather than a bar, but there are small tables in front by the bar. The drinks are limited and not flashy, but I find them tasty. To get to Plum you would head down Grand to Broadway. Plum is pretty much right there.

      You could also skip the cocktails and have a really perfect beer experience at The Trappist. Just over a dozen blocks down Broadway from Plum.

      4395 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA

      5 Replies
      1. re: lexdevil

        Adesso would not be out of range, I agree, and it's easy to park there.

        But... what I'm interested in is the *cocktail* experience. Something as good as, say, Bourbon and Branch. Not just tasty, but representative of the amazing breadth, innovation, reverence for history, of the bay area cocktail scene.

        What I like about Sidebar is the "locavore" versions of cocktails --- but they still have to be well mixed.

        Regarding bourbon, she's a southerner by birth. Bourbon is just fine. Question is whether Pican can mix with the heavyweights - what do you think?

        4395 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA

        Pican Restaurant
        2295 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

        1. re: bbulkow

          There are a few excellent options within range. You can go to Flora and sit at the bar for a drink ahead of time. Or go get greyhounds at Cafe van Kleef. Or head down to Radio (a few more blocks down). There are also the bars/lounges at Pican, Ozuma and Mua.

          2442A Webster Street, Oakland, CA 94612

          Pican Restaurant
          2295 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

          Ozuma Restaurant
          894 Laurel St, San Carlos, CA 94070

          1. re: happenstance

            Look, I'm fond of the greyhounds at Van Kleef, but they're not remotely in the range of cocktail I'm asking about. What cocktails are *really good*?

            1. re: bbulkow

              The Carter Beats the Devil cocktail at Flora is *really good*. Also, the bar area at Flora is comfortable, and if you go to Plum after the drinks you can park once and walk between them.

          2. re: bbulkow

            Pican has something like 80 different kinds of bourbon, so if she likes bourbon, it's the right place to take her.

            Pican Restaurant
            2295 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

        2. My first thought was Flora, but Luka's Taproom has a nice cocktail menu as well. I do like Sidebar. There's a relatively new spot called Room 389 that's just a bar, but I think I read they had the bartender from Sidebar (?) consult on their drinks. It's at 389 Grand Ave., on the other side of the street from Sidebar a few blocks closer to downtown. I looked for a website, but didn't find one. They do have reviews on Yelp and apparently have a facebook page.

          Luka's Taproom
          2221 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

          1. I'd go to Flora or Van Kleef, with Flora the first choice. You can also scope out both places quickly at the same time.

            Also, Tamarindo expanded into the space next door and opened a tequilla bar. Sorta far from Plum but there's the new Broadway shuttle (The B) that goes between Jack London Sq and upper Lake Merriott, and it's free. Okay, here's the link: (only runs until 7 p.m.)

            468 8th St, Oakland, CA 94607

            1 Reply
            1. re: ML8000

              I love Van Kleef, but it's a pretty regular bar. They don't do artisanal cocktails a la Flora, Adesso, et al.

            2. Oooh, what a handy thread! I'm going to Plum tomorrow night and was just wondering about nearby cocktail options. Love the discussion and all the recs...