Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
May 4, 2012 09:58 AM

Sonoma but more interested in cocktails than wine

My husband and I are going to be honeymooning in SF/Sonoma for 10 days. We will be spending 3-4 nights in Sonoma. We are mainly going there because our time in SF will be spent with friends and we wanted some private time. We are foodies and wanting to do one special meal in Sonoma. I was considering Cyrus but I've read some iffy reviews (I guess those exist for any restaurant) and I'm afraid we'll be snubbed if we don't do wine with dinner.

We're staying in Windsor but will have a car and can go wherever, I suppose. Recommendations for places that do amazing food but have a strong enough cocktail program that we won't be looked down on for opting out of wine?

Also, any other bars to be sure to hit would be great :)

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. Windsor is in northern Sonoma County. Fifteen minutes to the north is the town of Healdsburg, seasonal craft cocktail central for the North Bay. Cyrus has a fantastic cocktail program and ordering one is a must. You can also take a seat in the bar (no reservations) to order ala cart if you don't want to take a risk on the tasting menu in the dining room. Here's a description of a brown butter whiskey cocktail,

    For a little lower tariff, Spoonbar has a fun open-air bar with original cocktails. A new chef has taken over in the last couple months and I expect better things in the food department.

    Across the street, newcomer Mateo's Cocina Latina features cocktails based on tequila and mezcal, created by the same consultant, Scott Beattie, who put together the original Cyrus and Spoonbar programs. Amazing food here too.

    Barndiva, also just off the central plaza in Healdsburg, runs a creative cocktail program as well featuring local ingredients. You'll find many posts recommending the food there, if you do a search.

    Bistro Ralph, across from the plaza, is known for its martini bar.

    For a locals place, John & Zeke's Bar & Grill, is on the same block as Bistro Ralph. It's changed hands recently and I've not been in yet, but the new folks swore they wouldn't change anything. Oft described as a "dive bar", it's really not.

    Then one I've not tried yet, Alexander Valley Bar, owned by organic winery, Medlock Ames.

    If you stay in the town of Healdsburg near the plaza, you could walk to all of these but Alexander Valley Bar. A nice cocktail crawl.

    7 Replies
    1. re: Melanie Wong

      This is such valuable advice. Thanks! I want to try the drinks at Cyrus but I'm afraid of committing to the tasting menu. Maybe we will go for dinner at the bar.

      Any ideas for a nice dinner that isn't Cyrus? We were considering Manresa.

      1. re: elynbeth

        Manresa is at the opposite end of the Bay Area, in Los Gatos, over two hours from Windsor.

        1. re: Robert Lauriston

          Oops! I need to further implement my Google Map.

          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            It's a VERY long drive, 2 hours in clear traffic with a lot of urban freeways that congest, or the choice of taking longer routes - a generally stressful drive on weekdays (better on weekends).

            We haven't had a solid report about the new cocktails at Manresa - my last meal there was _just_ before the remodel that added the bar. I have a mission in Saratoga saturday, maybe I can organize a stop at their bar --- hmm.

          2. re: elynbeth

            Wondering if you've had your honeymoon visit yet and what worked for you.

            Here's my post on Alexander Valley Bar @ Medlock Ames. Finally went there last weekend and loved everything about it.

            1. re: Melanie Wong

              We just got home last week and had a lovely time. We were able to visit Spoonbar and loved it. The drinks were excellent.

              1. re: elynbeth

                Glad to hear you enjoyed yourself. And the news of the week is that Spoonbar's new chef is doing a pizza pop-up to preview a new spot on the plaza.

                Best wishes to the newlyweds!