Not too many people know that A16, one of San Francisco's favorite Italian joints, has a sister restaurant in Oakland, walkable from the Rockridge BART station. A16 Rockridge has all the class and atmosphere of the San Francisco location plus one more thing: a cocktail program. The space is beautiful––a sunny indoor spot those of us who want to get away from the foggy San Francisco summers. The bar is primarily a neighborhood bar, which you'll feel when you walk in. The staff is warm and hospitable, which makes you feel part of the in-crowd right off the bat.
Blessed Thistle: Plymouth, Campari, ciociaro, cardamaro, bitters. This is a nice variation on a Negroni, less sweet than the standard recipe and more floral.
Peach + Ginger Fizz: Gin, combier peche de vigne, egg white, ginger beer. The egg white makes this drink creamy and fizz-like, but without the two ounces of heavy cream. The peach is a refreshing touch.
Rum Rebellion: Hamilton gold, amaretto, cappelletti, grapefruit. The capelletti, a slightly bitter and herbal Italian liqueur, subtly augments the rum. Overall, the drink is meant to spotlight the rum without confusing the palate with other flavors.
The Voyager: Aperol, creme de violette, lemon, sorelle bronca prosecco. The bartender calls this cocktail a vacation drink, and she pretty much hit the nail on the head. It's sweet, bubbly, and easy drinking. The lightness of the aperol and lemon make it an ideal cocktail for those who don't want a heavy, rich cocktail.
Camomilla: Marolo chamomile grappa, gin, honey, meyer lemon. Honey and chamomile is a natural combination, and the meyer lemon adds a lighter, fresher touch than a normal lemon.
Alpine: vodka, salers gentian, combier peche, barrel aged cherry bitters. The potato vodka in this cocktail adds enough interesting flavor to please vodka haters and maybe even convince gin haters to try a nice London dry sometime.
Papetier: rye, Pimm's No. 1, amaro nonino. It's fun to see Pimm's in a dark cocktail. This is a good drink for Old Fashioned drinkers; it's herbal, rich, and a touch sweet (but balanced by the rye).
Vecchio Stile: Four Roses bourbon, orange shrub, ango. Although the Papetier reminds me of an Old Fashioned, A16 Rockridge's proper Old Fashioned variation is the Vecchio Stile (Italian for...Old Fashioned). This drink isn't for the faint of heart––the orange shrub is pretty intense. If you like sour beers, you may like this cocktail. If you prefer a more straightforward Old Fashioned variation, go with the Papetier.
Negro Oro. I usually don't like dessert cocktails, but the Negro Oro impressed me. It balances lightness, sweetness, and a bit of spice (from black pepper)––it's a much better way to end a drink than a sweet and heavy cocktail.
5356 College Avenue, Oakland