We tried a couple of the rooftop bar/restaurants in Healdsburg with mixed results.
First was Roof 106, connected The Matheson that’s on the ground floor, situated off Healdsburg’s central plaza but due to other buildings and the well grown trees there isn’t much in the way of a view. Our dinner was light leaning, a very nice hummus plate and some sushi hand rolls that neither of us loved.
The cocktails at Roof 106 were a lot better, though. I absolutely loved the Modern Margarita using clarified lime, so well rounded with a rich mouthfeel. I went off menu for a “shaken lime daiquiri with Panama Pacific rum” but the bill stated that the just okay daiquiri was made with Paranubes rum. Oops. Mrs. Mai Tai got a good one with a pumpkin spiced whiskey sour served up.
The Rooftop on top of the modern Harmon Guest House hotel offered a more traditional and open air rooftop bar. We were seated by a fire fit but could see that tables along the perimeter of the restaurant and lounge had a great view of Healdsburg’s central business district. We had some Riccota Doughnuts with berry compote that were delicious.
Drinks were pretty good at The Rooftop, including an Espresso-Tini that Mrs. Mai Tai thought was one of the best she’s had. I had the Cozy Bear, a Whiskey Sour made with Agave Nectar that was also quite good. We felt the service here was outstanding as well.
We landed in Santa Rosa’s charming Railroad Square district for some shopping and lunch. 19Ten Bar & Provisions is situated in the historic Oliver Hotel building but is a completely new restaurant that opened earlier this year.
There is a nice narrow bar with a couple booths, plus a large dining room. We liked our lunch and the service was super prompt and friendly. Mrs Mai Tai’s Shirley Temple featured a couple Luxardo Cherries and plenty of grenadine. She had some veggie tacos that though spicy were very good, and I loved my pizza.
The cocktail menu is pretty deep and they include a Mai Tai. I scoped the back bar to see if premium rums were available but decided to go with their standard featuring Don Q light rum with a float of Goslings dark. Not the most challenging cocktail for this experienced rum drinker but overall was quite suitable and well balanced. Not too shabby.
We were in Healdsburg for the weekend and visited bar and restaurant Lo & Behold a couple times. There’s a nice interior with a large patio out back with shade cloth and heaters in the evening. The staff here are friendly and we liked the food and cocktails.
One item in their menu is the “World’s Best Vodka Soda” which I found interesting in that I’ve always viewed this cocktail as a weird phenomenon. I like the taste of alcohols but appreciate that others don’t, but why mix it with flavorless soda water? Because it’s low calorie, seemed to be the consensus. But I ordered it anyway and then replayed the scene from “Elf”. To me it tasted like a crappy glass of Vodka Soda, but it apparently it’s the best.
We had better luck with our other cocktails. The cocktail of the week was a Chi-Chi, sweet like you’d expect but with bitters to give it a little twist. The Figgy Smalls was on special and also nice.
I tried a couple Bourbon cocktails. The Witching Hour didn’t have the heavier mouthfeel I was expecting but did taste nice and the Manhattan riff called Fifty Shades was very good.
Our two favorites were Can’t Stop Won’t Stop with KōHana Rum, gin, basil, and aquafaba. Definitely well-balanced. The Birds & the Beez featured lavender and hibiscus and was totally refreshing.
Definitely worth checking out in downtown Healdsburg.
Another sensational tiki destination is within driving distance of the population centers of the Bay Area with the addition of Kapu Bar in Petaluma. The large main room includes several large booths and some tables, featuring cohesive Polynesian decor and numerous tikis. Seating there accommodated via reservations and the Big Trouble (think Big Trouble in Little China) room with pinball machines serves as an overflow area. The large U-shaped bar is available for walk-in seating and there’s plenty of elbow room. The Captain’s Quarters is available for special reservations and features a separate bar and some stools and chairs.
The interior of Kapu is a classic dark tiki bar and the menu is inspired by venues of the past. There’s a nice medium-sized menu of $16 tiki classics, plus a section of frozen concoctions. Food is Asian and Hawaiian inspired and though the portions are fairly small the quality is more than reasonable. Prices reflect the quality as well as the immersive nature of the venue. Music was a blend of Exotica, Surf, Jawaiian, Garage, and even some Punk. I enjoyed this eclectic blend, though the Clash was too mainstream for my taste.
Frankie’s Tiki Room alum Michael Richardson is the GM, and I would say that the cocktails are a big step up from that venue. The Mai Tai was pretty good, with some rich rums and a little bit of a heavier lean more in the Orange Curacao direction. I really enjoyed the Frozen Saturn, balanced well with tart Passionfruit. Mrs. Mai Tai really enjoyed the frozen Sesame Chi Chi, an interesting riff on the classic, and also enjoyed the Pearl Diver.
Talking to locals, the cocktail program seems to be settling in at a good place, though supply issues with specified spirts have made ongoing production a challenge. But for a new venue with staff new to the program, the issues have been minimal.
Kapu Bar is a compelling and exciting new destination for any tikiphile or newbies looking to see what the fuss is about. We found the staff to be super-friendly and extraordinarily prompt with service. We also got to see a preview of a forthcoming mug that will elevate the opportunity for those looking to take home a souvenir.