Ah, winter in Napa Wine Country, when thoughts turn to cuddling by the fire with a lusty cocktail. It’s the time of year for brown liquors, like bourbon, whiskey, brandy, Scotch, cognac, dark rum and aged tequila.
Bartenders across Napa County celebrate the season by creating concoctions to warm the soul and tantalize the taste buds. A favorite cold weather pastime for locals and visitors alike is relaxing at local speakeasies, lounges, bars and restaurants, savoring inventive drinks.
‘Tis a great time to hire a chauffeur, as well, so you don’t need to think about driving while imbibing. Toast the holidays at these cocktail-chic destinations:
The Blue Note Napa
Yes, it’s that Blue Note, as in the original jazz club that rocked New York when it launched its music scene in 1981. Napa is the latest outpost, with the phenomenal indie venue boasting spots in Washington D.C., Tokyo, Milan, Honolulu and Beijing. Tucked in the historic Napa Valley Opera House, the stage is literally inches from the front row, and operates as a supper club, too, with offering seasonally inspired French food. Naturally, cocktails are a big deal, including classics like potent Manhattans and Old Fashioneds. Note: the Bar is sold as a standing, general admission space with stool seating available.
1030 Main Street, Napa, 707-603-1258, bluenotenapa.com.
There’s a cocktail and sake sommelier at this new, gorgeous izakaya with its soaring temple-style ceiling. And the place is open until 11 p.m. on weekends, feeding hungry souls with succulent pork belly yakitori, luscious chasu ramen, and rich, inspired cocktails like the Improved Man O’ War with Old Forester Signature Bourbon, Carpano Antica, lemon, curacao and absinthe.
821 Coombs Street, Napa, 707-254- 9464, miminashi.com.
Two Birds One Stone
The Enenra Elixir is a quaff of Isle of Skye 8 year-old Scotch with lemon, galangal and lapsang souchong black tea. Doesn’t it sound yummy? It’s the craft of chefs Douglas Keane (the former Cyrus) and Sang Yoon (Father’s Office in L.A.) who partnered for this Japanese showpiece at the recently renovated Freemark Abbey winery. Enjoy with delights like Thai basil chicken thigh yakitori, and Monday night ramen.
3020 St. Helena Hwy. North, St. Helena, (707) 302-3777, twobirdsonestonenapa.com.