Tonight I've picked the ultimate place to tip, toe and trot rather than crawl; three restaurant bars all in Oakand's "Uptown" - which let's face it, is just a few blocks from Midtown and then Downtown. But I like the sound of it so after pulling on my boots and purple silk trench coat we headed down Broadway, just beyond Auto Row and towards the harbour.
Jus the head barman here is the real deal: passionate about fresh ingredients and a philosopher with it. He grew up in bars and restaurants and at just three-years-old was playing liars' dice with the staff at the Hungry Hunter while waiting for his mother to finish her shift. He's tended bars and chefed all over the Bay Area and as a student at St Mary's he even owned a restaurant with his mother.
Jus said it was the ginger that makes it pop.You see, he mused: "Making a drink is like life; you've got to get the balance right - going out, working, going to the gym... and then you need something like the ginger to make things pop."
As our friend Fredi said: "Each time you sip you discover something new."
We said farewell to our new bar friends and hopped across the road to Pican, an elegant door to the Deep South with variations on old staples such as fried chicken and collard greens and seemingly an entire book of Bourbons to choose from. This is really swishy place with doormen and valet parking and sometimes up to three very glamorous women to greet you. The interior is lushly elegant; deep chocolate browns with coloured glass, copper ceiling tiles and Victorian mouldings.
A pianist playing the grand in the bar was wonderful, but the TV dulled the atmosphere. I really dislike television in bars, the focus is always on the screen.
This is a place to really dress up for. You can never be too sparkly or too fancy for Pican; one-shoulder cocktail frocks, stilletos and chandelier earings are all just perfect here.
Many of the men were wearing three-piece suits with hat, tie, silk scarves, and pocket squares. All the elegance and flair is utterly refreshing. There are boatloads of bourbons here and cocktails containing bourbon. I am not an afficianado of Bourbon, though we tried the Kentucky Highball and Pican Old Fashioned. I did like the Mint Julep ($10) with Jim Beam and rock candy syrup and fresh mint, fresh without being too sweet.
We walked up the road to Ozumo, a chic Japanese restaurant and bar with a jazz club atmosphere. The bar is a horse shoe with dramatic coloured lighting, a waterfall, dreamy watery-blue paintings, and pretty saki bottles lining the walls and ...a TV. So I'm obviously one small uncounted opinion when it comes to TVs in the bar...
We sat at the Robata Grill where you can view the drama of a huge kitchen with leaping flames. We opted for the $9 Sparkling Lychee, lychee syrup with passionfruit puree topped with Chandon De Noir Sparkling wine, which was sparkly and slightly sweet without being too cloying.
(Edited version in East Bay Express )
What's the best cocktail in your town?