Ah, winter in 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 Sonoma 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:
A pork belly taco is delicious, and even more mouthwatering with an Americana cocktail of Ganciana, Carapano Bianco and soda. Ganciana glitters deep red, as a wine-based aperitif flavored with woodworm, sweet and bitter oranges, cinnamon, sandalwood, cloves, nutmeg, and china bark. Wine based spirits take center stage here, served in an authentic, belly-up to the bar saloon ambience.
139 Petaluma Blvd N., Petaluma, 707-776-4631, speakeasypetaluma.com.
Duke’s Spirited Cocktails
The bar is new (opened this summer) but the setting is charmingly old, in a 1933 building done in Prohibition style. Drinks change seasonally, but chilly weather sips include the U Down With OGD of Old Grand-Dad Bourbon, Glenlivet 12, Coconut, Cinnamon, Gran Classico and Egg White, and the Ms. Bojangles of Four Roses Bourbon, House Root Beer, Fernet Branca, Bitters, and Phosphate. And ask about the cocktail ingredients – they’re mostly local, made with fruits, vegetables, herbs and flowers grown by the owners.
111 Plaza Street, Healdsburg, 707-431-1060, drinkatdukes.com.
B&V Whiskey Bar & Grille
This rustic-chic hangout sits in a former creamery, and offers extras like gourmet burgers and barbecue along with live music. What bliss is this: an Old Cuban made with aged rum, lime juice, bitters and champagne. Prepare yourself for crowds, too, since B&V is popular with both locals and tourists visiting the neighboring Sonoma Plaza.
400 1st Street E, Sonoma, 707-938-7110, bvsonoma.com.
Sonoma Cider Taproom & Restaurant
Ciders speak of cold, crisp flavors, perfect for cold, crisp weather. This new tasting room focuses on that very thing, courtesy of former Ace cider brewmaster David Cordtz and his son Robert Cordtz. The industrial-fashionable space boasts a 23-tap bar, with sips made from 100 percent Gravenstein apples, a Golden Delicious cider from De La Montanya Vineyard, and a Hefewiezen-style beer yeast and bananas quaff. Try the Anvil, too, for apple and alcohol-free bourbon flavor.
4 F Mill Street, Healdsburg, 707-723-7018, sonomacider.com.
Angel Eyes of Angels Envy barrel-aged finished bourbon, Carpano Antica, Angostura bitters and brandied cherry. ‘Nuff said. Add to that the delicious ambience of graffiti-mural walls, Beer Pong games, and bites like Bacon Bomb bacon-wrapped jalapeno tater tots. The Roseland area is in redevelopment, making the charming bar even more of a delightful surprise.
1910 Sebastopol Road, Santa Rosa, 707-843-5535, whiskeytipsr.com.