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Bars, Clubs & Coffeehouses: Bars & Clubs

Once just a production facility, Drake's also has a 24-tap beer bar and retail store with an outdoor patio and a relaxed ambience.

Forbidden Island

Forbidden Island is a tiki bar at its best, offering everything it takes to capture that elusive blend of island kitsch, pure spectacle, and festive mood: a nautical wood interior, gaudy cocktails, a jukebox crammed with vintage Martin Denny and Frankie Laine tunes, and a tropical lanai for outdoor guzzling. It’s apparently the only tiki bar in America that makes fresh fruit juice in-house every day, and there are appetizers of the deep-fried variety. Entertainment includes live surf-rock bands and dance parties with DJs.

Rock Wall Wines was started in 2008 by Kent Rosenblum (the founder of Rosenblum Cellars) and his daughter Shauna, shortly after the Rosenblum brand was sold to Diageo Beverage Company. The winery takes its name from the defensive barrier at the former Alameda Naval Base in which it is located. The tasting room hosts a number of East Bay wineries, including Blacksmith Cellars, Carica Wines, Ehrenberg Cellars, JRE Wines, R & B Cellars, and Virgo Cellars. Rock Wall sources its grapes from all over California: Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa Valley, Zinfandel from Sonoma County, Petite Sirah from Contra Costa County, Chardonnay from the Santa Lucia Highlands, and Tannat from Solano County.

Serves light meals to accompany its vino, with a tasting bar in the back.

Formerly known as the Justice League, the Independent is a venue strictly dedicated to hosting live music events. Besides the bar, there's nothing else to divert your attention from the players on the sizable elevated stage. One of the strengths of the Independent is the variety of music booked here, usually big-name acts in the worlds of reggae, funk, blues, DJs, hip-hop, and the indie-rock circuit. Accordingly, expect to see a different crowd nearly every night of the week. Ticket price ranges from $15 to $30.

With a tagline like “Good Spirits for Bad People,” you wonder why readers voted Heart & Dagger Saloon “Best Former Dive Bar.” Basically, it has a rock ’n’ roll vibe without the rock-star ego: friendly bartenders, cheap drinks, and a good jukebox. The shaded patio has plenty of seating, which makes it great for groups. There’s free wi-fi, a pool table, pinball machines, and more. Your dog is welcome, but your plastic is not: cash only.

With its old-fashioned furniture, a menu that's long on whiskeys and short on wheel-inventing, and comfortable, cozy, vibe, The Night Light is the kind of place your grandfather would love — that is, until the DJs get there. Upstairs, live bands play several nights a week for a low cover charge.

Ben & Nick's is the perfect place to catch up with friends, with loads of tables of varying sizes, a long bar ripe for hunkering down for a few hours (and pints), and a variety of beer on tap that changes daily (as well as a full bar).

Vintage decor gives this bar and grill a classic feel, but the menu — ambitious, inventive cocktails and well-made snacks like sliders and sausages — is contemporary Emeryville all the way.

Opened by former Foreign Legion emcee Prozack Turner and his wife, RaeAnne, The Legionnaire Saloon provides another live music and DJ venue in Oakland’s Uptown district. Its decor, too, is in line with Oakland’s new era of bars: dark-wood paneling, wooden booths, bar stools with plush vinyl seats in hunter green and red, and retro touches: antique mirrors, vintage maps, black-and-white photographs, a jukebox loaded with 45s, and three pinball machines.

Another example of the emergent lounge-bar-hybrid breed. It's got the energy of a dive, but with an auspiciously non-sticky floor and a lovingly curated playlist. Its house-made tonic makes for a delicious gin and tonic.

You won’t find any Budweiser, Coors, or Miller on the menu at this Alameda bar, but don’t let that dissuade you, the beer list is long. There are more than twenty beers on tap, forty choices in bottles, and, of course, cold PBR. For wine lovers, Lucky 13 features local wines by the bottle, and there’s a full bar. The bar also has a pool table, pinball machines, a black-and-white photo booth, beer garden, and a jukebox full of rock, punk, and soul. There’s free popcorn to snack on, and food can be ordered from Scolari's, the restaurant next door.

Touting itself as West Berkeley’s longest-running dive bar, The Missouri Lounge never disappoints. Order “The Special,” a whiskey shot and a PBR for $5, or spend the same amount on “El Special,” a tequila and a Tecate. DJs spin everything from honky-tonk to hip-hop, soul, and indie rock. Get there early on Wednesday for open mic. There’s plenty of picnic tables on the back patio, and a small selection of delicious drunk food. Never a cover charge.

Duende

This ritzy Spanish restaurant from former Oliveto chef Paul Canales is nothing if not ambitious: a 4,000-square-foot multi-use space that includes a high-end coffee shop, a wine and olive-oil retailer, an art gallery, and a performance venue for experimental jazz.

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