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Courtesy of Sunset Cantina

Where to Sip Summer Cocktails in Northern California

The best local, Black-owned bars and restaurants to grab a nice, frosty drink.

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This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.

There might never be a summer quite like 2020 ever again — but it doesn’t mean you can’t at least enjoy a summery drink every now and then. As California makes adjustments to its reopening plan, San Francisco (and all of Northern California) and its restaurants and bars have risen to the occasion, offering new delivery and takeout menus complete with all of the hits — and great cocktails to boot. Whether it’s a margarita you crave, a lighter shrub, or a good old fashioned rum punch, NorCal’s best eateries are ready for you.

Here’s where to find this summer’s best cocktails throughout all of Northern California. And because many diners are looking for ways to better support their communities right now, each pick is a local, Black-owned business — a great way to spend your money more mindfully and indulge in bright, summery flavors from around the world, right here at home.

Be sure to double check these bars and restaurants’ status before you go or order, as they continue to adapt to changing phases and regulations amid reopening. A number of Northern California restaurants and bars now offer patio service or dine-in service; studies indicate that there’s a lower exposure risk when outdoors, but the level of risk involved with patio dining is contingent on restaurants following strict social distancing and other safety guidelines. For updated information on coronavirus cases in your area, please visit covid19.ca.gov.

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1. Sunset Cantina

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3414 Judah St
San Francisco, CA 94122
(415) 571-8874
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The definition of a neighborhood favorite, Sunset Cantina is a lively, upbeat spot with killer tacos, tostadas, and — of course — margaritas. The Playa del Carmen is perfect for summer: tart housemade hibiscus syrup with Tequila CAZADORES Reposado and lime. Best yet, it’s available to-go, in double and quadruple beach-friendly mason jars, with a garnish of dried hibiscus and dehydrated lime wheel on the side. 

Courtesy of Sunset Cantina

2. Mission Bowling Club

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3176 17th St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-2695
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Burgers, cocktails, bowling: what’s not to love? Mission Bowling Club always has been a destination for food and drink, as well as the obvious entertainment. The cocktail list deserves particular attention, and its outdoor patio, with its living plant wall and airy, rustic vibe, is an ideal summer hang. Even better, MBC donates $1 from the sale of select menu items to a different community nonprofit each month; most recently, the restaurant gave to an organization working against mass incarceration.

3. Oeste

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722 Clay St
Oakland, CA 94607
(510) 817-4157
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With a killer rooftop and a menu that bridges Californian, Latin, and American soul food influences, Oeste is a place that celebrates the dynamic culture of Old Oakland. (Co-owners Sandra Davis, Lea Redmond, and Anna Villalobos all have deep roots in the Bay Area.) Their summer cocktails are particularly noteworthy, like the house-favorite Mango Habanero Margarita with Tequila CAZADORES, perfectly balancing spicy and sweet. Enjoy it to-go, or on their recently reopened rooftop. 

Courtesy of Oeste

4. Kingston 11 Cuisine

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2270 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 465-2558
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Kingston-born chef-owner Nigel Jones has always wanted to create community with his acclaimed restaurant, whose menu includes classic Jamaican dishes such as jerk chicken, oxtail stew, and curry goat. The ambitious cocktail list leans heavily on rum, with clever drinks like the Fern Gully (BACARDÍ Superior Rum, Gran Classico, assam-cardamom syrup, citrus) and the Jamaican-style K11 rum punch.

5. Sobre Mesa

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1618 Franklin St
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 858-7544
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Bold, colorful, and a little escapist, Sobre Mesa is a stunner of a downtown Oakland spot where tapas-sized bites reflect chef Nelson German’s culinary style. (The drinks and ambiance reflect German’s “Dominican roots and African ancestry,” according to the Sobre Mesa team.) Sophisticated cocktails, some currently available via delivery, echo the menu’s Latin and Afro-Caribbean influences; the Spiced Mango Margarita, with mango, lime, and habanero bitters complementing the PATRÓN, is perfect for summer.

Courtesy of Sobre Mesa

6. Brown Sugar Kitchen

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2295 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 839-7685
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Southern soul food, Oakland-style: Chef-owner Tanya Holland’s Brown Sugar Kitchen is a true highlight of the East Bay’s culinary scene. One bite of the fried chicken, or the bacon-cheddar biscuits, and you’ll understand. Cocktails are available for takeout and delivery — we recommend the Blacker the Berry, featuring BACARDÍ Superior, house-made blackberry shrub, Pimm’s, mint, and lime.

7. alaMar Kitchen & Bar

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100 Grand Ave #111
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 907-7555
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Another hotspot from Dominican-American chef Nelson German, this uptown Oakland eatery draws from a variety of influences — Caribbean, Cajun, Latin, Japanese. And its easy-to-love cocktails are equally bold in flavor, like the Cherry Cosmo, with GREY GOOSE, lime, cherry liqueur, cranberry, and the unexpected twist of limoncello. Best sipped on the airy patio. 

Courtesy of alaMar Kitchen & Bar

8. CAÑA Cuban Parlor & Cafe

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530 Lake Park Ave
Oakland, CA 94610
(510) 832-1515
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The bold flavors of Cuban cuisine (known for its Spanish and African influences) come to life at Caña — as do the island’s iconic drinks. Crisp, refreshing mojitos (made with HAVANA CLUB Rum and available for takeout by the pitcher) are the classic move to pair with a plate of ropa vieja or a decadent Cuban sandwich, but drinks like the Sangria Limonada, with BACARDÍ Superior Rum, lemon, and sparkling wine, are just as compelling.

9. Streets Pub and Grub

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1804 J St
Sacramento, CA 95814
(916) 498-1388
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This laid-back Midtown Sacramento tavern is home to low-key but tasty food and drink. We suggest pairing your fish & chips or nachos with The Dragon: a specialty cocktail combining BACARDÍ Dragonberry Rum, lemonade and cranberry. Their outdoor patios have never been a more appealing summer destination.

This advertising content was produced in collaboration between Vox Creative and our sponsor, without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff.

1. Sunset Cantina

3414 Judah St, San Francisco, CA 94122
Courtesy of Sunset Cantina

The definition of a neighborhood favorite, Sunset Cantina is a lively, upbeat spot with killer tacos, tostadas, and — of course — margaritas. The Playa del Carmen is perfect for summer: tart housemade hibiscus syrup with Tequila CAZADORES Reposado and lime. Best yet, it’s available to-go, in double and quadruple beach-friendly mason jars, with a garnish of dried hibiscus and dehydrated lime wheel on the side. 

3414 Judah St
San Francisco, CA 94122

2. Mission Bowling Club

3176 17th St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Burgers, cocktails, bowling: what’s not to love? Mission Bowling Club always has been a destination for food and drink, as well as the obvious entertainment. The cocktail list deserves particular attention, and its outdoor patio, with its living plant wall and airy, rustic vibe, is an ideal summer hang. Even better, MBC donates $1 from the sale of select menu items to a different community nonprofit each month; most recently, the restaurant gave to an organization working against mass incarceration.

3176 17th St
San Francisco, CA 94110

3. Oeste

722 Clay St, Oakland, CA 94607
Courtesy of Oeste

With a killer rooftop and a menu that bridges Californian, Latin, and American soul food influences, Oeste is a place that celebrates the dynamic culture of Old Oakland. (Co-owners Sandra Davis, Lea Redmond, and Anna Villalobos all have deep roots in the Bay Area.) Their summer cocktails are particularly noteworthy, like the house-favorite Mango Habanero Margarita with Tequila CAZADORES, perfectly balancing spicy and sweet. Enjoy it to-go, or on their recently reopened rooftop. 

722 Clay St
Oakland, CA 94607

4. Kingston 11 Cuisine

2270 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94612

Kingston-born chef-owner Nigel Jones has always wanted to create community with his acclaimed restaurant, whose menu includes classic Jamaican dishes such as jerk chicken, oxtail stew, and curry goat. The ambitious cocktail list leans heavily on rum, with clever drinks like the Fern Gully (BACARDÍ Superior Rum, Gran Classico, assam-cardamom syrup, citrus) and the Jamaican-style K11 rum punch.

2270 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94612

5. Sobre Mesa

1618 Franklin St, Oakland, CA 94612
Courtesy of Sobre Mesa

Bold, colorful, and a little escapist, Sobre Mesa is a stunner of a downtown Oakland spot where tapas-sized bites reflect chef Nelson German’s culinary style. (The drinks and ambiance reflect German’s “Dominican roots and African ancestry,” according to the Sobre Mesa team.) Sophisticated cocktails, some currently available via delivery, echo the menu’s Latin and Afro-Caribbean influences; the Spiced Mango Margarita, with mango, lime, and habanero bitters complementing the PATRÓN, is perfect for summer.

1618 Franklin St
Oakland, CA 94612

6. Brown Sugar Kitchen

2295 Broadway, Oakland, CA 94612

Southern soul food, Oakland-style: Chef-owner Tanya Holland’s Brown Sugar Kitchen is a true highlight of the East Bay’s culinary scene. One bite of the fried chicken, or the bacon-cheddar biscuits, and you’ll understand. Cocktails are available for takeout and delivery — we recommend the Blacker the Berry, featuring BACARDÍ Superior, house-made blackberry shrub, Pimm’s, mint, and lime.

2295 Broadway
Oakland, CA 94612

7. alaMar Kitchen & Bar

100 Grand Ave #111, Oakland, CA 94612
Courtesy of alaMar Kitchen & Bar

Another hotspot from Dominican-American chef Nelson German, this uptown Oakland eatery draws from a variety of influences — Caribbean, Cajun, Latin, Japanese. And its easy-to-love cocktails are equally bold in flavor, like the Cherry Cosmo, with GREY GOOSE, lime, cherry liqueur, cranberry, and the unexpected twist of limoncello. Best sipped on the airy patio. 

100 Grand Ave #111
Oakland, CA 94612

8. CAÑA Cuban Parlor & Cafe

530 Lake Park Ave, Oakland, CA 94610

The bold flavors of Cuban cuisine (known for its Spanish and African influences) come to life at Caña — as do the island’s iconic drinks. Crisp, refreshing mojitos (made with HAVANA CLUB Rum and available for takeout by the pitcher) are the classic move to pair with a plate of ropa vieja or a decadent Cuban sandwich, but drinks like the Sangria Limonada, with BACARDÍ Superior Rum, lemon, and sparkling wine, are just as compelling.

530 Lake Park Ave
Oakland, CA 94610

9. Streets Pub and Grub

1804 J St, Sacramento, CA 95814

This laid-back Midtown Sacramento tavern is home to low-key but tasty food and drink. We suggest pairing your fish & chips or nachos with The Dragon: a specialty cocktail combining BACARDÍ Dragonberry Rum, lemonade and cranberry. Their outdoor patios have never been a more appealing summer destination.

1804 J St
Sacramento, CA 95814

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