Just because you came to Napa for wine doesn’t mean Napa Valley isn’t also serving up seriously good cocktails. Whether your vibe is posh, elegant, or Instagrammable, there’s a cocktail bar or lounge in Napa Valley that can deliver. From rummy tropical cups singing of banana and coconut to dark, brooding bars perfect for a dirty martini and everything in between, we’ve got a roundup below of the best Napa Valley cocktails for all interests.
Best Cocktails Overall
Goose & Gander in St. Helena
When you’re handed a spiral bound menu book with a page of cocktails created for every category of spirit, you know the place is serious. Even better when the majority of those listed are changed out regularly to reflect local ingredients and seasonality. The bar, located underneath the main dining room, is cozy in the way you would imagine Ernest Hemingway's house – huge stone fireplace, oversized leather chairs, and a woodgrain bar top as thick as your arm. Balanced, imaginative, seasonal, and delicious are all words that could be used to describe the drinks you’ll find here. We recommend picking your favorite spirit and letting the bartenders do what they will. You won’t be disappointed.
Best Instagrammable Cocktails
ArBARetum in Downtown Napa
This slip of a cocktail bar is infused with the greenery and botanical experimentation of its namesake. The invention of Napa Valley Distillery – local creators of artisanal spirits and ingredients such as bitters, spirits, and mixes – showcase their line of products in the many rotating libations that fill the menu in this incredibly hip space. Cocktails mirror the feel of an arboretum with floral and herbal influences, butterfly and bird ornaments painted onto drinks, and small vials and potions lining the counter housing ingredients. Try the Costa Navarino, a spin on a gin martini utilizing local olive oil and finished with a spear of feta cheese and kalamata olives.
Best Cocktails with a View
Sky & Vine Rooftop Bar at Archer Hotel in Downtown Napa
It’s impossible not to enjoy whatever you might end up sipping from the rooftop patio above Archer Hotel in downtown Napa, but the bartenders make sure the drinks are as good as the views. Once here, you’re treated to a modern gathering space of lounge chairs, firepits, and a bar that lines the railing overlooking the city. Even on busy nights you can usually find a spot to squeeze into with drink in hand as the sky waxes through the vibrant colors of a California sunset. They maintain a rotating selection of both classic and seasonal drinks to pair with their epic sunsets, and don’t shy away from the cocktails on tap.
Best Upscale Happy Hour Cocktails
TORC in Downtown Napa
One of the more sophisticated and relaxing downtown spots on Downtown Napa’s Main Street. This full-service restaurant will serve up well-made cocktails and pour rare wines by the glass. Their happy hour will not disappoint, filled with several wines, beers, quick bites, spirits, and specialty cocktails. TORC’s appreciation for locally produced ingredients, thoughtful wine, hand-crafted cocktails, and mouthwatering beer offerings, truly showcases their passion for a fine dining experience. They offer over 10 different cocktails such as the L.L. Green, Paper Plane, and Episcopal V.E.P.
Best Cocktails for Pretending You’re in Spain
ZuZu Restaurant in Napa
ZuZu puts a modern spin on the classic gin & tonic cocktail. The bar at this Spanish tapas restaurant has combined old-school gin & tonics with unexpected flavors like elderflower and “Napa Foraged,” to make the perfect experimental beverage. Featuring over 15 gins and 8 tonics to choose from, you’re bound to find a beautifully crafted concoction your tastebuds will appreciate. Experience Spanish-inspired flavors and delicious drinks at one of downtown Napa’s liveliest destinations.
Best Cocktails for Pretending You’re in France
Angèle Restaurant & Bar in Downtown Napa
A Napa Valley staple for 20 years, Angèle has the type of bar you want to sit at for hours with a good book. It’s not just the French countryside chic aesthetic of this place that pulls you in either. Much of the staff has been working here for years, meaning they know their stuff. They remember what event was thrown three years ago and what cocktail you think you liked from 2019. All of which translates into the ability to deliver consistently quality cocktails over and over again. Order the Clear Conscious, a refreshingly tall glass of vodka, cucumber, and ginger, or lean fully into the French theme and commit to a French 75. Served up in a coup glass with just a hint of lemon.
Best Classic Cocktail Spot
Cole’s Chop House in Napa
This spot has been an institution in the town of Napa for over 22 years and has been deemed “Napa Valley’s Favorite Steakhouse” for its relaxed feel and consistently classic, good food. The bar is a long, wooden, mahogany behemoth – the kind that feels like it has seen a thousand souls and will see a thousand more. The martinis are served perfectly crisp and cold in their classic stemware and the Old Fashioneds are rich, warming, and not too sweet. While they do keep a rotating menu of seasonal concoctions, we like to stick to the classics when visiting this tried and true.
Best Cocktails for Making You Feel on Vacation
Wilfred’s Lounge in Downtown Napa
The Mai Tai here is great, but for something unique reach for the Pagan Ritual or the Tahitian Punch. Each drink arrives in its own fantastical vessel aimed at whisking you away to a tropical escape. This tiki bar has hand-carved wooden totem poles throughout while incense greets you at the entrance. Complete with their assortment of rum drinks, you’ll think the beach is just steps away. Don’t forget to find your way to their rooftop patio that overlooks the Napa River.
Best Cocktails for Poolside Vibes
Picobar at Solage in Calistoga
Relax at this Solage resort poolside restaurant and bar with stunning views of the surrounding Mayacamas Mountains while you sip on a Pico Drink or Los Agaves cocktail. The word “pico” is translated as “peak,” which showcases what’s in peak season from the mountains, valleys, and rivers. Executive Chef Gustavo Rios has fashioned together a tranquil restaurant that fuses coastal Ensenada, Mexico and Northern California’s wine country. Pair your cocktail with one of the homemade Napa flavored tortillas or with chips and Pico guacamole, that’s uniquely made with whipped avocado pistachio, and kale dip. These cocktails are made with local quality ingredients and perfectly designed for summer pool lounging.
Best Cocktail Without the Fuss
Napa Palisades Saloon in Downtown Napa
This tried-and-true locals spot is rarely empty, always loud, and more prone to serving up pints than pulling together a cocktail. But if you do go the cocktail route, they’re strong and nothing close to precious. Enjoy them with an order of their Reuben croquettes and whatever sports game is playing across the screens that day.
Solbar at Solage in Calistoga
Relaxed, yet elegant. Refined, yet comfortable. Solbar makes you want to kick back and start vacation but also wear your best outfit while doing so. Visitors, guests, and locals are welcomed at the indoor and outdoor spaces, both a restaurant and bar, offering expertly curated seasonal cuisine and cocktails. Try their Rose Crush made with gin, house-made rose syrup, and grapefruit, or the Green Flash, which is pulled together with tequila, jalapeno herb syrup, and lime.
Sam’s Social Club in Calistoga
Part of the resort property of Indian Springs Calistoga, this bar and restaurant gives a 1950s vintage vibe and the expansive outdoor patio with loungers and oversized umbrellas are great for kicking back to unwind. The cocktails are artisanal made and give off a unique, yet carefree element that feature names like The Guys Getaway (mezcal, fresh lime, estate rosemary syrup), The Clarified Penicillin Milk Punch (scotch, chamomile tea, ginger syrup), and The Seasonal Mule (ginger vodka, apple spiced syrup, ginger beer).
The Q Restaurant and Bar in Napa
Off Main Street in downtown Napa, the laid-back feel and open-air bar makes The Q a desirable watering hole. They serve weather appropriate and tasty combinations like the Watermelon Crawl, composed of tequila, watermelon, and jalapeno. Come here for the surprise of whatever seasonal drink they have on the menu.
Coqueta in Yountville
Famous for their intricate gin cocktails that are almost too pretty to drink, this tapas spot in Yountville is the second runner up for “most Instagrammable.” We recommend any of their gin and tonics.
C Casa in Napa
The little taqueria that could, C Casa recently expanded its offerings to include a large, eat-in restaurant space. They now have the luxury of a full bar and seating area that serves up locally sourced and delicious cocktails that are as good as their hand-made tortillas. Try any variation of the freshly squeezed margaritas or the Guava Pisco Sour to pair with those tacos.
Photo at the top courtesy of Auberge du Soleil.