By Joe Kukura
Some of the finest mixed drinks of the emerging California craft cocktail movement are found on the rocks of the Pacific Coast in Marin County. Located straight up the Golden Gate Bridge across from San Francisco and just a dash south of wine country, Marin County is home to a premium list of swanky cocktail establishments and a top-shelf blend of bars, lounges and restaurants.
Whether you’re thirsty for an old-fashioned mixed drink or an innovative beverage concept with a twist, here’s proof that Marin County cocktail bars are always high in spirits. Pull up a Collins glass and let’s take a look the fresh seafood restaurants, farm-to-table dining destinations and trendy nightlife hotspots serving the best cocktails in Marin County.
Benissimo Ristorante & Bar
You’ll come to Corte Madera’s Benissimo Ristorante & Bar for the authentic and exquisite Italian cuisine, but you’ll stay for the liqueurs, single malt scotches and variety of cognacs. Your mixologist is also happy to pour Bennissimo’s signature Italian-inspired craft cocktails, like the Bella Pisca Margarita, Pom Violetta or the Sunrise Italiano.
HopMonk Tavern Novato
Novato’s HopMonk Tavern is renowned for its live music every weekend (and plenty of weeknights too), but you’ll really want to get down with their ingenious and original HopMonk bartenders' creations. Pick from the Stoli-infused Blueberry Mint Lemonade, the apple-packed Moonshine Shandy or Barrel Aged Manhattan to wash down some satisfying house-smoked barbecue or seasonal fish.
Marinitas in San Anselmo is home to some of the best-reviewed Mexican and Latin American food in Marin County, and its bar shelves will blow you away with nearly 100 varieties of tequila. And your margaritas will be lovingly handcrafted, with citrus juices squeezed to order and sour mixes made from unrefined cane sugar.
Founded by Grateful Dead bassist Phil Lesh himself, Terrapin Crossroads remains Lesh’s favorite spot to make cameo appearances and kick out live performances. The cocktails at Terrapin Station in San Rafael come with a kick too, with cult-hit distilled spirits like Saint George Terroir Gin, Knob Creek Bourbon and Partido Blanco Tequila.
Nick's Cove Restaurant and Oyster Bar
Nick’s Cove is a breathtaking collection of overnight cottages right along Tomales Bay, and Nick's Cove Restaurant and Oyster Bar features the award-winning cuisine of executive chef Joshua Seibert. The locally grown food is paired with Marin County-inspired cocktails like the Tomales Tonic, the Hog Island Iced Tea and the Highway1Trip.
Station House Cafe
Point Reyes’ Station House Cafe starts their day with mimosas alongside breakfasts, lunches and dinners of local organic cuisine. But the full bar calls during the Station House’s no-cover live musical performances, and the $5 happy hour well drinks are a weekday staple that are not to be missed.
Rancho Nicasio Restaurant & Bar
The crown jewel of the town square of Nicasio is the Rancho Nicasio Restaurant & Bar, a restored historic roadhouse whose bar is a step back to Old West yesteryear. A rural treasure on five acres of Marin County scenery, the Rancho Nicasio Bar features a wide variety of popular liquors to go along with live music every weekend.
Shake up your craft cocktail explorations in Marin County, an emerging “spiritual” destination with outstanding shopping and places to stay. Pour one out for your next weekend getaway in Marin County, an unforgettable place where the only bitters are in your perfect Manhattan.
For all you need to plan your Marin County vacation, visit the Marin Convention and Visitors Bureau’s website or Facebook page.