Best California Hotel Bars and Signature Drinks
Sacramento, CA [June 30, 2016] -- From seasonal craft cocktails to refreshing poolside concoctions and from whiskey libraries to historic watering holes, bars at California inns serve up great drinks with great atmosphere.
The lively bar at The Landsby in downtown Solvang serves up local wine, beer, craft cocktails and their signature drink: shrub cocktails. The Landsby was the first to introduce shrub cocktails to the Santa Ynez Valley. Chef Seth Nathan makes his shrubs from scratch using a variety of vinegars and fruits. Current shrub flavors include cranberry-apple, orange-burnt cinnamon and grapefruit. Bartender Stephanie Reyes then uses the shrubs to craft cocktails like the “Dark Horse,” which mixes tequila, ginger beer and lemon zest with cranberry apple shrub. The shrubs can also be mixed with club soda or sparkling water for a nonalcoholic cocktail. The chef has designed the shrubs to pair closely with the hotel’s cuisine and some patrons will order the shrubs between courses as a palate cleanser. Happy hour at The Landsby is served Sundays - Fridays from 4 to 6:30 p.m.
Housed inside the historic MacCallum House in Mendocino, the Grey Whale Bar has long been a convivial gathering spot and has been doing the craft bar thing for years. In 2009, a former bartender, Tony de la Torre began setting up the bar to display the fresh and sometimes unusual herbs and spices they’d muddle into cocktails or serve as a garnish. Continuing along the same line, Grey Whale Bar’s current bartenders/mixologists craft a menu of original, creative cocktails each season using fresh ingredients and unusual garnishes to reflect the restaurant’s seasonal menu changes. Some of the cocktails—like the Sicilian Manhattan—are twists on the classics. Others are beyond compare. The bar’s signature cocktail is the refreshing Elderflower Martini, which blends cucumber vodka, lemon juice, St. Elder Elderflower liqueur, orange bitters and sparkling wine.
Travel + Leisure recently named Nick’s Cove’s “Chili Smoked Margarita” as one of the best 4th of July cocktails from bars across the U.S. The drink shakes together tequila, lime juice, agave nectar, orange liqueur and habanero shrub, and then pours it into a chili-smoked salt-rimmed glass and with a garnish of lime. Nick’s Cove Restaurant & Oyster Bar is a classic institution on Tomales Bay serving up locally-sourced, seasonal cuisine including fresh oysters harvested from the bay. The newly-updated restaurant has all the nostalgic charm of an upscale hunting lodge, complete with restored mahogany bar, wood-burning fireplace, reclaimed redwood tables and game trophies on the wall. In addition to its acclaimed margarita, Nick’s Cove also serves a variety of craft cocktails, local wine, local beers, and ciders.
In Upper Lake, a popular watering hole from the 1880s—the Blue Wing Saloon—was torn down during prohibition, but is enjoying a revival in popularity since it was reconstructed and re-opened in 2005. Rebuilt along with the historic Tallman Hotel next door, the saloon has a nostalgic vibe, featuring an antique, wooden back bar salvaged from an old pub in Pennsylvania. The wooden dining tables and expansive bar were built on-site by local craftsmen from a 100-year-old walnut tree harvested from the property. Old-growth redwood wainscoting found hidden beneath layers of paint and wallpaper during the hotel’s renovation was repurposed for use in the saloon. The saloon features upscale pub fare and offers a wide selection of local Lake County wines and artisanal beers. The saloon also hosts live music Sunday through Tuesday.
El Morocco Inn & Spa in Desert Hot Springs serves their signature “Morocco-tinis” poolside at this enchanting, Moroccan-inspired oasis. Sheer fabrics billow in the desert breeze while faint strains of Moroccan music drifts overhead. The outdoor bar overlooks a flickering firepit and a warm, natural spring-fed pool surrounded by glowing lanterns, lounge chairs, Moroccan poufs and daybeds piled with pillows. The inn’s nightly happy hour begins with a traditional Moroccan hand-washing ceremony with rosewater and followed by rounds of the inn’s signature drink. The Morocco-tini mixes equal parts orange and cranberry juices with sake and a splash of “lemon seltzer” (a.k.a. Squirt), and is served on the rocks in a sugar-rimmed martini glass with an orange garnish. The complimentary drinks are served nightly between 5 and 6 p.m.
The ocean views at Albion River Inn on the Mendocino Coast are jaw-droppingly beautiful, but the wine and Scotch selections at this enchanting hideaway are extraordinary as well. Mark Bowery has directed the restaurant’s wine and spirits program since 1989, curating the most extensive wine list on the Mendocino coast. The ever-changing list offers over 550 labels from around the world. In addition to the wines, Mark has also assembled an impressive collection of hundreds of spirits, including over 150 single-malt whiskies from Scotland. You can order a tasting flight of single malts to sample some of Mark’s favorite Scotches. The bar is tended by Laura Spradlin, who, like the sommelier, has been with the inn for over 20 years. She’s a favorite among locals and travelers alike for her hand-crafted cocktails. Drop in between 5 and 6 p.m. to mingle with the local crowd and enjoy happy hour discounts on house wines, beer and well drinks.
An intimate desert retreat in the historic Movie Colony neighborhood of Palm Springs, POSH Palm Springs serves up outstanding service, complimentary hors d’oeuvres and its signature “POSH Martini.” Innkeeper Tony Santos blends ice, orange juice, a splash of banana liquor and equal parts vodka, tequila and coconut rum for a cool, summery drink that is perfect for sipping poolside. The tranquil courtyard pool at POSH Palm Springs is surrounded by lounge chairs, desert plants, and offers views of the San Jacinto Mountains. White arched colonnades on either side of the pool are lined with sheers that billow in the breeze. A hot tub is located at the far end. The complimentary happy hour is served each evening from 4 to 5 p.m.
At the southern end of the path winding along Cambria’s beautiful Moonstone Beach, Nectar Wine Bar at El Colibri Hotel & Spa is a sophisticated retreat serving the best local wines from the Paso Robles region. It’s a relaxing place to grab a glass of wine or share a bottle after a sunset stroll along the beach. The wine bar features art collections from the owners’ world travels, a fireplace flanked by cozy leather couches and intimate dining tables. In addition to the extensive selection of local premium wines, the wine bar also serves California-style tapas. Nectar Wine Bar is open daily from 3 p.m. - 11 p.m., and features live music Saturday evenings.
For more information about these and other California bed and breakfast inns, visit www.cabbi.com.
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