After a long, blissful day drinking your way through the wineries of Sonoma, you might want to return to your hotel to rest and recover.
But those staying in downtown Sonoma will find it hard not to spend the evenings exploring the town’s own nightlife venues instead. Tasting rooms are great, but you get enough of those during a wine-soaked tour of the region. So we picked out a few bars and restaurants where you can find yourself a stool, hobnob with locals and tourists, and enjoy wines from all over the world along with cocktails and beer. Here are the five best bars to visit in downtown Sonoma.
A visit to SIGH. is an absolute must during any stay in Sonoma. The champagne bar specializes in all things bubbly, including enviable bottles of Grower Champagne that are worth seeking out. It moved into its current space in 2017, and there you’ll find a marble bar surrounded by gold accents with many bottles waiting patiently on ice, along with a row of taps ready to dispense supreme wine and beer. Since opening, SIGH. has also expanded into still wines, beer, and a few snacks in case all that bubbly starts to go to your head. On any given night, this is the place to be. But the bar doesn’t take reservations, so pop by early and set up camp for a long night of champagne toasts.
Like the French-leaning food menu at this bar and restaurant inside the Sonoma Hotel, the drinks at the girl & the fig lean on Rhône varietals from vineyards both local and global. The proprietor, Sondra Bernstein, leverages her experience at nearby Viansa Winery to fill out the bar’s wine list with all sorts of tasty Grenache, Syrah, Carignane, Picpoul, and Mourvèdre. The cocktail list features rotating drinks with seasonal touches to match the garden-driven food, and it usually includes a few options with French ingredients like Lillet, Pineau des Charentes, or absinthe.
While better known for its sit-down service restaurant, the El Dorado Hotel also boasts a small bar where you can take advantage of the excellent drinks program. On the bottle list, direct your attention to the sections for “interesting” reds and whites, where you’ll find Viognier, Roero Arneis, and Nebbiolo di Barbaresco. The cocktails are equally worthy of investigation, so don’t leave without exploring the entire menu, and then maybe stick around for dinner, too.
One of Sonoma’s few bars dedicated to mixed drinks, The Starling turns out quality cocktails from classics to originals, all featuring seasonal ingredients from a patio garden. With weekly specials like tiki Tuesdays, vinyl nights, and live music, there’s always a reason to stop by and see what’s going on, even if it’s just to hang with the exceptionally chill staff behind the bar. Check The Starling’s Instagram for the latest buzz, and do not miss the excellent patio on a warm summer night.
After a grueling day of drinking wine in the sunshine, head to HopMonk Tavern to give your taste buds a break from all the tannins. The local hotspot for craft beer, HopMonk provides a wide variety of styles and flights. It’s a solid selection, but don’t expect anything to knock your socks off. This is a perfect place to relax with a cold pint and hopefully catch a show from the bar’s stage.