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17 Bars in Oakland That You Should Check Out

Oakland, California, known for its beautiful parks and the only natural saltwater lake in the world, is a bustling and friendly city to visit. On my most recent trip there, I searched for fun places to get drinks with friends.

clinking glasses with cocktails in Oakland California bars

To my surprise, there were so many to choose from, as many locations had excellent cocktails, cold beer, and knowledgeable staff. Nonetheless, I narrowed them down to my top choices.

Check out my list of the best bars in Oakland, California, below!


Penelope

555 12th St Ste. 120, Oakland, CA 94607
Phone: (510) 922-9571
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Find Penelope, the one-of-a-kind cocktail bar and snacketeria in uptown Oakland near the corner of 11th and Clay street. This is the place to go for artisan cocktails, fine spirits, and specialty beers.

This chic spot offers sidewalk seats, and incredible vibes flow throughout the establishment. Might I suggest that the next time you’re in the neighborhood, drop by and try the Penelope (Tequila, beets, apple cider vinegar, lime) with the Chicken empanadas—an excellent pairing!


Cafe Van Kleef

1621 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (510) 763-7711
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Don’t know where to get a drink? Try Cafe Van Kleef, across the street from Both Sides Convenient Store. This cafe features knickknacks and other funky wall art, greyhounds, and many specialty cocktails.

You can grab some tasty bar food and pair it with a Bulldog, which has fresh grapefruit juice and gin. I also liked the Blue Hound, with grapefruit juice and tequila.


Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon

Jack London Square, 48 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94607
Phone: (510) 839-6761
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Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon is in Jack London Square, near the San Francisco Bay Trail. It’s one of the best bars you can find in the neighborhood.

This vibrant venue has draft beers, cider, fruity cocktails, and Old West vibes. You can also get wine by the glass, but I recommend trying the various types of whiskey, gin, and tequila.


The Double Standard

2424 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (510) 879-7601
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The Double Standard is in the Korea-Northgate Corridor, a welcoming bar with a warm charm and modern decor. They typically host sports event viewings, comedy shows, and more.

It’s one of the nicer places to go out when you want to steak away for good food and high-quality cocktails. The bartenders use fresh garnishes and juices and have ten rotating beers.

There’s also a vast wine selection to choose from.


Make Westing

1741 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (510) 251-1400
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Make Westing is in Uptown Oakland, near the Fox Theater. The decor is industrial, paying homage to the city’s heritage. Make Westing has a full bar, two bocce courts, an outdoor patio, and gourmet bites.

Don’t hesitate to try the Mexican Blackberry when you visit, made with ginger beer, like, blackberry cordial, and tequila. This drink is fantastic with their empanadas.


Binny’s Cocktail Bar & Restaurant

532 8th St, Oakland, CA 94607
Phone: (510) 496-4083
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Bunny’s Cocktail Bar & Restaurant is in the Old Oakland District, near 8th and Clay Street corner. This community-based bar offers a beautiful dining experience.

The bar’s interior has an art-deco theme, a pleasant atmosphere, and a chic u-shaped bar. Shareable plates, classic cocktails, and cold beer make a memorable night with friends and family.


Summer Bar & Lounge

526 8th St, Oakland, CA 94607
Phone: (510) 817-4985
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The Summer Bar & Lounge is close to the Parliament Event Venue in Old Town Oakland. It’s the newest gay bar and nightclub in the area, and they host a talk show and live music performances.

The Summer Bar has various beers, wine, signature cocktails, and classic drinks. They have a delicious Bloody Mary, American Mule, Tequila Sunrise, and creative martini flavors.


Bar Shiru

1611 Telegraph Ave #100, Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (510) 920-0299
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Bar Shiru is in Latham Square, by Frank H. Ogawa Plaza. The Tokyo-themed cocktail bar is the first hi-fi listening bar. They focus on jazz music, but they also play soul music and international tunes.

Come with a full stomach because they don’t serve food. The Lost of curated spirits and local craft beer is enough to keep you coming back for more.

The Japanese whiskey is excellent, and the extensive sake and wine menu.


Low Bar

2300 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94612
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The Low Bar is near the Oakland YMCA and is a great place to grab drinks with a group. This Mexican-inspired cocktail bar comes up with unique drinks and top-notch churros and tacos to go with them.

This venue had excellent drink specials during happy hour and a wide array of yummy drinks. There are 50/50 shooters, beer and shot specials, house cocktails, classics, wine, and more.


North Light

4915 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94609
Phone: (510) 891-1113
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North Light is an intimate and friendly neighborhood cocktail bar with traditional cafe fare. The spacious back patio offers beautifully situated seating for its guests.

North Light can accommodate you whether you’re a wine, beer, or spirit enthusiast, and if you make it during happy hours, you get half off on all drinks.

Stop by and try the delectable pulled pork sandwich with a cold brew or the House Old-Fashioned.


The Alley | Piano Bar & Restaurant

3325 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610
Phone: (510) 444-8505
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If you’re looking for a chill environment to enjoy a drink with live piano music, you can find it near the Grand Lake Theater and the Lake Merritt estuary. Adorned on the walls throughout this bar are beautiful photos.

The interior of the bar exudes 1920s vibes. On my trip to Oakland, I had to stop by and try one of their signature Ribeyes and their Whiskey & Rye; needless to say—I had a great time, and everything was impeccable.


Bar 355

355 19th St, Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (510) 451-3355
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If you know where the Snow Park and the Fox Theater are, you’ll have an easy time finding Bar 355—mere moments away from there.

This trendy bar has bartenders who are more than competent in serving creative cocktails, and there’s regular live music in a speakeasy-inspired venue.

This place is ideal for small groups and couples. I suggest trying the yummy Gin and Housemate Tonic on your visit to Bar 335.


First Edition

1915 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (415) 463-8039
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First Edition is a comic book-themed cocktail den located near Whole Foods Market. The bar has high ceilings, outdoor tables, and large murals.

First Edition’s goal as a bar is to explore new cocktails and facilitate building new relationships—where individuals go from being strangers to friends.

Whether you like wine or you’re there for a draft Old Fashioned they can accommodate you as you relax on the roof deck.


The Kon-Tiki

347 14th St #3906, Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (510) 823-2332
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You can find the Kon-Tiki in downtown Oakland, near the corner of Webster and 14th street. This tiki bar is a lively lounge full of punch bowls with tropical drinks.

Check out the Kon-Tiki tiki bar and get your fill on exotic drinks and good traditional bar food. You can’t go wrong with the Classic cheeseburger and a Mai Tai or a Rum & Spice, whichever it’s most appealing.


The Libertine

3332 Grand Ave, Oakland, CA 94610
Phone: (510) 735-9073
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Sometimes you need to take a load off; you can do so at the Libertine near the Grand Lake Optometry center. The local bar and lounge are known for cocktails and craft beer from brass taps—just a great place with great vibes!

They serve Red and white wine, beer, and ciders, but I recommend trying the Japanese whiskies and the Hemingway Daiquiri when you finally manage to make it to the Libertine.


Kona Club

4401 Piedmont Ave, Oakland, CA 94611
Phone: (510) 607-7143
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Located near the Piedmont Ave Elementary School is Kona Club. This warm and cozy bar has refreshing island vibes and bamboo walls.

You’re allowed to bring in your food as you enjoy some of their classic cocktails. For first-timers, I recommend trying one or all three of these drinks: Scorpion Bowl, Classic Mai Tai, or a Pina Colada.


19th Street Station

339 19th St, Oakland, CA 94612
Phone: (510) 893-1919

Also near Snow Park in the 19th & Harrison apartments, the 19th Street Station bar is a laid-back venue with vintage decor and sports memorabilia.

This is a fantastic bar that serves draft Guinness and other tasty brews. What’s more, patrons have legal permission to smoke in this bar.

If you’re ever in this neck of the woods, try the Old-Fashioned and Bloody Mary, two tasty drinks you won’t regret buying.


Final Thoughts

When you visit Oakland, make it a priority to check out these fun places to go out and get delicious drinks. I’ve recommended the best bars in Oakland, California, but there are plenty to choose from if none of these feel quite right.

Did we leave a bar out of this list? Make sure you leave us a comment, and we’ll check it out!


Best Bars in Oakland

  1. Penelope
  2. Cafe Van Kleef
  3. Heinold’s First and Last Chance Saloon
  4. The Double Standard
  5. Make Westing
  6. Binny’s Cocktail Bar & Restaurant
  7. Summer Bar & Lounge
  8. Bar Shiru
  9. Low Bar
  10. North Light
  11. The Alley | Piano Bar & Restaurant
  12. Bar 355
  13. First Edition
  14. The Kon-Tiki
  15. The Libertine
  16. Kona Club
  17. 19th Street Station

Written by Rocco

Rocco is a Florida State University alumnus with years of bartending and hospitality experience. From slinging hundreds of vodka sodas a night in jam-packed college bars to serving carefully crafted cocktails in upscale restaurants, there’s not much he hasn’t done behind a bar. Now, Rocco shares his knowledge and passion for all things alcohol-related here on My Bartender for bibulous readers everywhere to enjoy.

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