While known as the largest town Sonoma County has to offer, Santa Rosa has also developed an impressive nightlife. What is consistent in all towns with a great nightlife? Drinks. There are a lot of great bars in Santa Rosa, a wide variety of cocktails, wine bars and craft breweries. To make life easier for you I’ve narrowed the drink scene down to five locations with some respected drink recommendations. So here you have it - I give you the top five places in Santa Rosa to enjoy a drink.
Residing on the corner of 4th street and Railroad Square, Jackson’s is the perfect spot for a slightly off the wall, yet delicious cocktail before things get a little less classy. I dare you not to giggle while ordering drinks like ’99 problems (But my drink ain’t one)’ or ‘Ghetto Cowboy.' Just like the cocktail names, Jackson’s has a very light hearted atmosphere with a great staff who will out class you all day everyday and twice on Sundays. The wine selection is impressive and the beers are respectable. With two massive flat screen TV’s and a comfortable bar area, Jackson’s should be your first stop on a Friday night.
The Safe Bet - Blood Diamonds
Try Something New - J.W.A
My Personal Favorite - Drank in My Cup
Something to Snack On - Prosciutto and Pear Pizza
After a couple drinks at Jackson’s take the short trip down the street to Jack and Tony’s. This joint has the largest Whiskey menu in Santa Rosa. Jack and Tony’s is literally a whiskey lover’s heaven. J&T has hundreds of whiskeys available at any time, that’s right HUNDREDS! Ranging from your traditional bourbons, American whiskeys, Irish whiskey’s and Scotch to the more adventurous Japanese and Canadian Whiskey’s imaginable. The cocktails are award winning and the ceviche is to die for; this is a must stop for all whiskey connoisseurs.
The Safe Bet - The Denzel
Try Something New - Two Tickets to Pear-A-Dice
My Personal Favorite - Prichard’s Single Malt Bourbon
Something to Snack On - Bacon Wrapped Sea Scallops on Risotto with Apple Cider Reduction
Stark’s has quite possible the greatest happy hour of all time; get this - $2.50 martinis, need I say more? Traditionally, Starks is a classy joint, however, when happy hour rolls around the steak hits the fan. Starks has an extensive craft beer menu for you Sonoma County micro brew snobs, as well as a wine list that will satisfy most wine-o’s. The food is fantastic and the ambiance is quite enjoyable, with live jazz and blues music playing while you sip on your world-class beefeater martini. Stark’s is a must stop for anyone looking for a drink in Santa Rosa.
The Safe Bet - Beefeater Martini
Try Something New - The Root of Evil
My Personal Favorite - Blood & Sand
Something to Snack On - Crispy Calamari
How could we not have a wine bar on the list in Sonoma County? At the center of wine country, Willi's wine bar offers the best of Sonoma County wines in addition to international wines. The wine menu is vast and offers a bit of everything (including beer). Whether you are just getting into wine or you have the pallet of a seasoned sommelier, this is the place for you. Luckily, if you are indecisive like me when seeing a massive wine list, Willi's offers flights as well as wine by the glass. They offer a true tasting experience that is educational and exceptional. Willi’s puts the class in Santa Rosa.
The Safe Bet - Schramsberg Blanc De Blancs
Try Something New - Duende, Tempranillo
My Personal Favorite - Romilliy Monte Rosso Zinfandel
Something to Snack On - Curried Crab Tacos with Apple, Cucumber & Mint
Ah, yes, good old Russian River Brewery, or as I like to call it, nectar of the gods. Russian River is regarded as one of the best breweries in the world and sits in the middle of downtown Santa Rosa. Beer lovers from across the world make the trip to come visit the holy land that is Russian River Brewing Company. The selection of beers on tap at any given time is double what you’d see at any other craft brewery, and they are all to die for. Ranging from massive hoppy west coast style ales to the unique sours and Belgian beers, Russian River has it all. The bar is always packed and full of Santa Rosa regulars. Getting to the bar and ordering a beer is just as exciting as tasting the liquid gold that is produced by this brewery. If you find a spot at the bar, hold on to that seat for dear life and never let it go; just sit there and enjoy the best beer on the planet earth.
The Safe Bet - Pliny the Elder
Try Something New - Consecration
My Personal Favorite - Row 2, Hill 56
Something to Snack On - Pliny Bites