Summertime is for sipping adventures. If there are two things we know about summer drinking in Napa Valley it’s that most people appreciate a place with good ambiance and, are looking for more than wine in wine country. With this in mind, we went looking for the best cocktails in the prettiest places in St. Helena. Here are the top places to imbibe your favorite spirits.
Casual yet polished (interiors display warm wood, exposed brick, and tan leather), Chef Christopher Kostow’s newish downtown restaurant focuses on “elemental” and “simplicity” when it comes to the menu. Much of the food, served family style, comes from a huge open-flame grill. Lunch and dinner aside, we like to sneak down to their chic but approachable bar to dig into their cocktail menu.
The Charter Oak celebrates classically focused cocktails ranging from bottled cocktails and large format “for the table” drinks, to reserve cocktails crafted with rare spirits. An extensive list of sought-after local wines and beers will also be available as well as zero-proof beverages made. The beverage list highlights three pages of both classic and creative combinations such as the mezcal and tarragon: tarragon infused mezcal, yellow chartreuse, pimento dram, tequila, charred pineapple.
Cook Tavern is the casual sister to the fine dining experience next door at Cook St. Helena. This is a nice mid-day stop between shopping and wine tasting. A cool and cozy spot with exposed rock walls, the Tavern offers two- and four-top tables, along with bar seating and one large family style table. Three televisions invite diners to drop in to follow sports events. Denoting the different style, the elegant paper-mâché kudu head sculpture that hangs on the wall of Cook reappears in the Tavern but in a glowing neon outline.
In Cook Tavern, you’ll find everything from muffaletta to macaroni on the menu. Enjoy craft beers, California and Italian wines, and cocktails. The menu includes classics as well as imaginative house creations. Whet your whistle with options such as the Kumquat Sour, Bee Royalty (Bombay gin, white wine, ginger shrub, honey and lemon), Cougar Juice (Grey Goose, St. Germain, peach shrub, lemon juice and wine). But who doesn’t love a bottomless mimosa? Join them every Saturday and Sunday from 10 am – 2 pm for their bottomless mimosa brunch.
Goose & Gander
At Goose & Gander, Executive Chef Nic Jones creates amazing rustic American food and mouthwatering bar bites all served in their gorgeous pub-like dining room, cherished basement bar or lush garden. The seasonally driven menu perfectly complements Scott Beattie’s retro-fresh libations or a bottle of wine from our unique and award-winning wine list.
Here you’ll find a cocktail menu consisting of 30-plus items boasting foraged laurel bay leaves, home-grown borage, and a program of bottle-aged cocktails. Order a classic cocktail and you’ll find it amped up with local flowers, herbs, and housemade syrups.
Let’s just say we would happily move in here and make it our home. Grand, yet still warm and inviting, Press Restaurant is not your everyday steakhouse. It’s quintessential Napa; the utmost care and importance is given to its ingredients. A chophouse offering wood-grilled meats & Napa wines in farmhouse-chic digs with a fireplace & patio.
We like to cozy up at the bar before dinner and choose from one of their many well made cocktails including Press Manhattan (Bulleit Rye, Carpano, Antica Sweet Vermouth, Luxardo and House Bitters), Press Gin and Tonic (No. 209 Gin, House made tonic, Thyme, Citrus Infused Ice Cube) or their famous Trinidad Sour. This cocktail was created by Giuseppe Gonzalez at the famed Brooklyn Clover Club years ago and quickly turned into a classic. They’re using Templeton Rye Whisky as the base to compliment the bitterness of the amaro Di angostura, orgeat, and dash of lemon. So much yes.
Brasswood Bar + Kitchen is 360 food and wine experience on one campus. From their wine tasting room and bakery to their full-service restaurant, you could easily spend a full day here. Executive Chef David Nuno is in his element at Brasswood Bar + Kitchen, allowing his years of experience with wine country flavors and the amazing terroir of the Napa Valley’s cornucopia to drive his cuisine. Having beautiful, high-quality produce grown alongside the world’s best grapes makes his flavors come alive.
Brasswood’s inviting bar offers a variety of signature house cocktails, created by Assistant General Manager and Mixologist, Luke Christian. A couple of favorites include the Mai Tai
rum, Giffard orgeat, grenadine, pineapple, orange, float of Bacardi 151, almond coconut cream, fresh nutmeg or the “Sweet and Caliente” with Cimarron tequila, Giffard cassis, lime, grapefruit, cilantro, and jalapeno.