As much as we love wine, there’s just something about summer that puts us in the mood for cocktails. The endless array of inventive ingredients, the gorgeous glassware, the complex flavor profiles… what’s not to like? (We love cocktails so much we even make our own craft brandy, the Andrew Jackson Dollarhide: Spirit of St. Supéry, from our estate Muscat Canelli grapes.)
Luckily, we don’t have to go far to satisfy our cravings, because the Napa Valley is home to an array of stellar cocktail spots and some of the state’s most talented mixologists. Here are some of our favorite places to relax and enjoy the libations of summer.
Brasswood Bar + Kitchen
A locavore drinks menu beckons at this cozy St. Helena dining spot, with its wood-beamed ceilings, leather banquettes and black-and-white checked marble floors. Here classic cocktails are mixed with creative flair and locally made spirits. As Brasswood’s general manager Jennifer Bohr says, “We always keep locality and community in mind. Any time we can offer a guest an experience that is truly Napa Valley, we feel we have given them a memory of a place and time they can take with them back home.”
We’re partial to the St. Supéry Sidecar (we may be a little biased), made with our brandy, Tariquet armagnac, lemon and Cointreau, but we also love the Sweet and Caliente, a Latin-inspired blend of Arette tequila, Giffard cassis, citrus juices, cilantro and jalapeño. The Industry Mai Tai, creatively crafted with orgeat and almond coconut cream, makes us feel like we’re lounging poolside.
Goose & Gander
Tucked inside a stately Craftsman house just off St. Helena’s Main Street, Goose & Gander specializes in classic cocktails with a (sometimes literal) twist. The lively downstairs bar, with its comfortable, pub-like atmosphere, is a haven for locals, and a welcoming place for visitors, too.
The Cucumber Collins—a gorgeous drink made with cucumber vodka, yuzu, fresh and pickled cucumber, huckleberries and seltzer—is a crowd favorite. We also can’t resist the Coastal Pimm’s Cup, a refreshing combination of Pimm’s No.1, St. George Terroir gin, lemon, bitters, ginger beer and bay laurel.
If the weather is just too nice for subterranean sipping, grab a table under the trees on G&G’s shaded patio.
Lucy Restaurant + Bar
Yountville’s upscale Bardessono hotel is home to one of the Napa Valley’s most stylish cocktail lounges. Sleek and modern, the indoor-outdoor space opens out onto a serene patio and garden complete with a reflecting pond.
The playful menu of craft cocktails has an “I Love Lucy” theme—a detail that makes us appreciate the place even more. Our pick is Lucy Does the Tango, a summery combination of vodka, elderflower liqueur, lime, chili bitters and club soda. When we’re feeling spicy, we order the Don Juan is Shelved, an inventive blend of tequila, Xicaru mezcal, carrot, lemon and agave.
Morimoto Restaurant Bar and Lounge
This buzzing Napa restaurant is known for its exquisite sushi, but the locals know it’s also an outstanding spot for cocktails. The bar is a destination in itself, decorated in warm ash tones and outfitted with sunny yellow sofas and wing chairs that invite guests to relax and stay a while.
Like the restaurant’s edible creations, cocktails are made with an artisan’s touch. Matthew Engelbracht, assistant general manager, explains, “We constantly strive to distinguish ourselves by making our own products from the abundant, beautiful local produce.”
Asian influences abound, from the Tokyo Club Margarita (DeLeón Platinum tequila, Gunma sake, cucumber, shiso and togarashi) to the Mango Matcha Punch, made with Charbay green tea liqueur, mango, lychee soda and lemongrass. We’d be lying if we said we didn’t also love the That Good Good, an inspired blend of gin, blueberry-basil shrub and Spirit of St. Supéry brandy.
If you’re looking for a quiet place in Napa to enjoy smooth jazz and an old-school highball, this isn’t it. TORC has a decidedly rock & roll vibe, from the rock and soul music playing over the restaurant speakers to the unpretentious, no-tablecloths décor. The space is open and airy, accented by warm wood floors and stone walls.
In keeping with TORC’s relaxed-but-sophisticated vibe, the cocktails have playful names and include top-level, creative ingredients. Take the Piggy Punch, a blend of Flor de Caña rum, Banane du Brésil, lemon and mint. Or the Baja Toddy, which includes AJD: Spirit of St. Supéry brandy, lemon, Gran Classico and damiana.
TORC’s bartender, Marco Garcia, loves using local ingredients, such as Napa-made spirits, to create thoughtful and unique cocktails. And we just love drinking them!