We were excited to try the new cocktail bar in downtown Napa from local raconteur Judd Finkelstein – aka “The Fink” where the venue gets its name. The bar is the same spot as the former Silo’s and is situated in the historic grain mill that now houses the upscale Napa River Inn. The venue takes inspiration from the nearby Napa River and is cohesively themed by Daniel Gallardo (Tiki Diablo) as a nautical trading post. It’s dark yet warm with a large bar, some two-top tables, several booths with portholes, and a lounge area. There is a stage with a piano that will house live music starting in a few weeks.
The Fink serves beer and wine, and Finklestein’s experience with Judd’s Hill Winery means you won’t be lacking for good options. But first and foremost this is a cockail bar and they’ve hired experienced bartenders from the area including Andrew Salazar (ex-Miminashi) to put together the cocktail program and execute it flawlessly.
There are currently 24 cocktails, with more to come. Presently there’s a twelve item House Cocktails section, with six each for the tiki-inspired “LA to the Bay” and classics-inspired “Gotham City.” New Orleans will be the next destination.
Our starting place was the OG Mai Tai, which features house-made Orgeat. This nutty cocktail includes two Jamaican rums and one from Martinique and is quite good. We loved two other exotics on the menu, the tangy Cobra’s Fang and the spicy Nui Nui. All of these would stand up to any cocktail you’d find at leading tiki bars in the country.
We also tried the Casino Royale cocktail including Cognac, lemon, orange bitters, Maraschino Liqueur, and Champagne. It’s an elegant cocktail with a medium-bodied mouthfeel and a lingering finish.
The Fink serves small bites and has some great merchandise options (with more coming) including a membership pin. We loved the swizzle stick that pays homage to Finklestein’s eyewear. We had a great time at The Fink and it is truly worth seeking out or making a special trip for.
We enjoyed a trip up to the Napa Valley Museum Yountville to view the exhibition running now through through December 31, 2023. The collection is curated by Baby Doe & Otto von Stroheim of Tiki Oasis and it tells a chronological story of tiki in popular culture with an emphasis on venues from the Bay Area. Those venues include Trader Vic’s of course, but also The Lanai, Tiki Bob’s, and more. Each named venue features a nice chronology and plenty of historical details and artifacts.
The collection includes some large tikis, a tiki mug collection, and plenty of artwork. There’s an incredible tiki by Crazy Al (unfortunately not attributed in the museum) that has nods to the different carving styles from across the Pacific. And there’s a custom-built bar built by Woody Miler and used for events.
Overall, the exhibit is well worth the drive and modest entrance fee. We went first thing on Saturday and avoided the typical weekend traffic jams. A California Road Trip exhibit downstairs will also scratch the itch for fans of midcentury kitsch.
The exhibit also features a gift shop with a great selection of items from Trader Vic’s, McBiff, Heidiline, Tiki and Stitch, and more. The great looking event mug by Woody Miller that pays tribute to the Barney West tiki outside Trader Vic’s is only available at the ~monthly ticketed special event receptions: June 17, July 15, August 19, September 16, October 7, December 2. Check the website for event details and ticket links.
It is long overdue recognition that this delicious cocktail should be considered a modern classic. Every time we try it is is on point and it is totally a draw for Mrs Mai Tai whenever we’re in hailing distance of Napa. We know we should have dinner at some of the other restaurants, but we can’t not go to Wilfred’s Lounge for the cocktail.
Maximum Aloha was an opening day cocktail at Wilfred’s and contains Strawberry Infused Philippine Rum, Lemon Juice, Cinnamon, Prickly Pear, Hibiscus, Overproof Jamaican Rum, Coconut Banana Whip. It leans tart, not sickly sweet like you might expect from the color. But that tartness can be adjusted by mixing in the delicious whipped cream.
We decided to Napa last weekend sort of last minute to check out the Napa Lighted Art Festival (more photos under @kevincrossman), so we didn’t have a reservation. We put our name on the Wilfred’s wait list but we’re quickly able to find a couple seats at the bar where they treated us so well. We do enjoy the Hawaiian food here, including the delicious pineapple fried rice.
I was taking it easy so I tried the spirit-free Toucan Sham, a flavorful lime-aid like refresher with Passionfruit, Vanilla, Pandan, Coconut Cream, Lime, Soda. This was pretty. The fruity flavors that favored lime really worked for me. Delightful.
There are some interesting winter cocktails at Wilfred’s Lounge in Napa. I tried and liked the Hot Buttered Rum, a lighter spin on the cocktail and without a ton of thick batter like you sometimes see (I acknowledge that could be a plus, or a minus, depending on your preference). I liked the warm rum cocktail on a rainy day (a coaster-related accident prevented me from taking a nice looking photo). We also heard great things about the Flora’s Holiday with mulled wine.
We were also pleased to see a hard-bound menu this visit, replacing the old floppy leather binder we had to use perviously. So much nicer in this format, but still plenty of space for pages of cocktails, rums, food, and even a section of available merchandise. The merch shelves inside the restaurant are looking nice these days.
We enjoyed our lunch last Sunday. I tried the burger for the first time and found it to be quite the delight. It comes with sweet potato fries, which isn’t really my thing but might be for you.
We didn’t do the signature cocktail but it seemed like it was well received by those in attendance. Wilfred’s made it easy to buy a mug with lunch and Woody signed the mug and posed for photos with good cheer. Another fantastic mug release for Wilfred’s in Napa.
Getting married on a holiday ain’t bad when you both have the day off from work and can head up to Napa for an Anniversary lunch at Wilfred’s Lounge. Happy Anniversary @juliebeane.
We had a great time at Wilfred’s. We appreciated the hospitality of the anniversary champagne, appropriate since Wilfred’s is celebrating their 1st anniversary today too.
Lunch was fab. We split the salmon rangoon, salmon entree and pineapple fried rice, really great. And I enjoyed the spam musubi. The Ono Pie is not to be missed.
Cocktails are still on point. The Maximum Aloha remains Mrs Mai Tai’s favorite, a tart cocktail that can be sweetened with the banana whip cream. I tried the new Manta Ray cocktail that is a light blend of gin, rum, and wonderful flavors.
Cheers to @doc_parks and the team at Wilfred’s. Such a cool vibe inside, with friendly service and cool surf tunes playing inside.
Late summer seemed like a good time to venture up to Napa to check out the wine town including their very fine tiki bar and restaurant, Wilfred’s Lounge. They have a main entrance but the bar has open doors and you can order at the bar and drink there or take it upstairs to the deck or into the ship’s hull section.
We did a group dinner and given the size of the party we were seated on the patio. The restaurant isn’t large and so the patio is used as overflow and additional seating. While it’s not a dark immersive experience, there are worst places to hang out in the early evening given the cool breezes from the adjacent Napa River. And plenty of people watching.
The Hawaiian-inspired menu isn’t vast but we really liked the meal. I found my Kalua Pork to be just the right amount of greasy and and had a mild but very satisfying flavor. And we made sure to leave room for some ‘Ono Pie (don’t call it “Hula”) with coconut ice cream, macadamia nuts sprinkled on top with caramel, and cream. So good.
The cocktails remain on point. Their Mai Tai uses Jamaican and Martinique rums but these are not too challenging for the wine crowd and leaned a bit towards a lime cordial taste. The Doc’s Grog was quite fantastic. The strawberry cocktail called Maximum Aloha continues to impress, not sticky sweet like you’d expect but a tart leaning base to balance all the coconut banana whip on top. They have a very good rum collection and reasonable prices. As the menu says “call your spirit,” which I did (with please and thank you) for a Mai Tai with Denizen Vatted Rum.
Thanks to Doc Parks and the crew who did so well to service our group, even when it expanded mid-meal. Reservations are always helpful on a weekend, and Wilfred’s has a large collection of mugs and other merchandise for sale. I’m also a fan of the size/shape of their swizzle stick.