The Vibe: A Foray into Sacramento’s Bar Scene

Sactown, the little known capitol of California is the hipster West Coast cousin of New York’s Albany. Trees line each street like one continuous suburb, houses are often separated by backyards, side yards, and alleys. There is space. More space than I’ve known for a while. And when walking down a street, you might pass one or two other people, at which point it’s appropriate to look at them and say ‘Good Morning.’ Wild stuff.

It’s no struggle to find a good café in Sacramento. In fact, little coffee houses inhabit pretty much every corner of the capitol. And there are hipsters inhabiting every stool.

In my humble opinion, hipster culture in the United States has a high correlation with a good bar scene. So, I made a small guide to the culture here from my short visit.

BikeDog Taprooms

We have to begin with beer, because beer is the definitive drink of Sacramento. There is no shortage of breweries in Sactown. They open them in garages, back alleys and storefronts that look like they were once office depots.

And Bikedog brewery is one of the masters.

Communal picnic tables, colorful decor and at least a dozen rotating beers on tap, Bikedog serves some VERY eccentric flavours that in all honesty, wouldn’t fly in Paris. But we’re not in Paris anymore. So why the HECK am I talking about Paris? Speaking of which, there’s also a friendly atmosphere that you wouldn’t find in Paris.

Bikedog has a fun membership program called The League, where you can score free pints and merch with bulk purchases, so you better believe, it’s where the locals go.

Trophy Club

Downstairs, there’s a massive minigolf playground called Flatstick Pub, where people flock in from over the capitol to ‘drink local and putt tipsy’ as they say…but upstairs, that’s where you leave your toys at the door.

This members-only speakeasy is the first of its kind in Sactown, and they make classic yet so-fist-i-cat-ed cocktails. So-fist-icated with a fist because they beat you over the head with it like an old Guy Ritchie movie.

I mean, the Trophy Club is complete with a leather-bound menu, velvet lounge chairs and ornate rocks glasses, vintage photos that recall the Gold Room from the Shining, and possibly the nicest bar bathroom I’ve ever seen. A cigar boxes waits when you’re ready to pay–though I should mention that there are no cigars inside, only a check.

A great friend of mine was able to give us a sneak-peek while we were in town, and we had a very good night.

It was still in setup mode, but when they officially open, this place has all the boxes checked for Sacramento’s best nightcap–after a fun night of mini-golfing of course.

The Snug

Tucked behind a larger bar, which I didn’t get the name of, hides a back room called the Snug. A long bar and dim lighting, a custom cocktail menu and a man-bunned bartender. They had decorations up from Halloween, and a couple of people sat at large leather booths, but I got the sense that this bar was, on normal nights, a lively place.

The expansive liquor shelves, mixers and garnishes should tell you everything you need to know about the Snug. But while the drinks were elaborate, they were not outstanding.

I quite enjoyed the vibe of the bar, however, and would whole heartedly recommend it.

The Jungle Bird

An apropos name for the neighborhood Tiki Bar, the Jungle Bird quickly became a staple after opening a few years back. This vernal oasis serves classics and new takes on Tiki cocktails, and Philippines inspired bites, for a deal too. They have punch bowls that serve 4 or more, so don’t limit it to date night.

The vibe and barmen are voodoo old-school. Hawaiian shirts, leis and indoor shades. Their collection of glassware is beyond impressive, with a unique glass for each drink. While the bar doesn’t transport you out of the city, it’s good, clean fun.

There’s a wide array of other bars in Sactown, ranging from old-school schmoozfest class to hipster I don’t giveadamn, pour the shot bars. This town seems to care more about drinking than commerce, which is another thing that leaves me completely disoriented. *Ahem* It’s a nice kind of disorientation.

A grassy street will lead to a dive bar on the corner. Another alley will lead to a brick-oven pizza place with some mean Mules. A King, a priest and a politician walk into a bar, yeah, that’s because you’re in Sacramento.


Insta: @Negroni.Papi

  • BikeDog TapRoom Broadway — 915 Broadway Suite, Sacramento, CA
  • BikeDog TapRoom West Sac — 2534 Industrial Blvd #110
  • Trophy Club — 630 K St. #3 Sacramento, CA
  • The Snug — 1800 15th St, Sacramento, CA
  • The Jungle Bird — 2516 J St, Sacramento, CA

Published by AlexanderGittleman

Alexander Gittleman aka Mr. Cohiba is the writer, editor, and creator of the cocktail blog African Bowtie. He has lived in Seattle, New York, and currently lives in Paris where he covers the burgeoning cocktail scene.

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