I'm not a restaurant or bar critic. I don't Yelp. I'm just a fan of good cocktails, nice wine, interesting beers, tasty food, great service, and places that have a cool, inviting vibe. Over the past few months, I've experienced all of the above at various places of note, and I'd like to take a second to share some of them with you. Cheers!
Marjorie (at Hibiscus Restaurant in Oakland), featuring rum, apricot liqueur, fresh citrus juice, egg white, and the herb marjoram. I like it for several reasons: I always enjoy a nice rum cocktail that doesn't resort to pineapple juice and orange curacao and grenadine with a dark rum float. I love apricot liqueur. I love cocktails that incorporate fresh herbs, and marjoram is a highly aromatic herb you rarely see in a cocktail. The Marjorie was one of the more inventive cocktails I've come across over the past several months. Crisp, balanced, interesting drink with layers of flavor.
The bar at the new Berkeley restaurant Revival Bar + Kitchen. Beautiful bar, well executed classic cocktails, and a "farmers-market-fresh" approach to their original specialty drinks. Wonderful service from the staff and GM Gerald.
Wood Tavern in Oakland, and Locanda da Eva in Berkeley. Two of my favorite restaurants. Wood Tavern has absolutely amazing food, and eating at their bar is always an exciting, lively evening with a fun bar staff.
Locanda da Eva has a classics-inspired bar program. With a carefully selected spirits portfolio, beautiful back-bar, and a small but well thought-out cocktail list, their passionate and talented bartenders create the perfect bar/dining experience. Delicious food, and several wine-by-the-glass offerings at super reasonable prices almost unheard of here in the Bay Area!
Encuentro, in the Jack London Square section of Oakland, on Jackson and 2nd. Nice selection of wines-by-the-glass, great salads, and a wonderful selection of cheeses. Had a delicious quinoa salad, some deviled eggs, and a sparkling rose here the other evening. Encuentro has a very casual vibe, unpretentious service, and an overall positive vibe. Great neighborhood hang-out, alone or with friends!