Hot spots for drinks on your Californian adventure

24 October 2019

California produces some of the most brilliant beverages around, from delicious wines and artisan beers to flavourful cocktails and exquisite spirits.

To complement the tremendous taste, it’s important to have a setting to match and there’s certainly no shortage of that in the Golden State, so we’ve brought together a few of our favourite spots to enjoy a tipple during a Californian adventure.

Napa Valley


The 400-plus wineries of Napa Valley are known to produce some of the finest wines in the world, with a range comprising Cabernet, Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir and many more. While here, you’d be amiss not to visit at least one of the wineries to experience the pinnacle of wine produce.

Dating back over 142 years, Beringer Vineyards is the oldest continuously operating winery in the region. It offers an exquisite array of award-winning wines that guests can sample on tours which take in the rolling rows of vines, the iconic Rhine House mansion, historic underground tunnels and sensory garden.  

Drink to try: 2015 Beringer Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon

San Diego

Any visitor to San Diego will immediately notice the unmistakable influence of Latin American (specifically Mexican) culture. The beautiful vibrant city is home to a plethora of Mexican bars and restaurants serving the very best Mexican fare. One of the city’s signature cocktails, the Margarita, draws its heritage from this Mexican influence and while its origin story is unclear, it’s certainly found a home in this sun-drenched city.

Made from a mix of tequila, orange liqueur, lime and salt, the unmistakably Mexican flavours deliver a punchy taste that is adored by millions. One of our favourite places to enjoy a Margarita is at Cafe Coyote in old town, but head to just about any bar in the city and they’re sure to be able to knock you up a delightful take on the classic cocktail.

Drink to try: Margarita

Santa Monica

Santa Monica’s waterfront is one of the most famous in the world and for all the right reasons: the beloved pier fairground, boardwalk rollerblading, superb surf conditions, the original Muscle Beach and hugely entertaining street performers.

Grabbing a drink here is all about location. Choosing a spot where you can sit back, become engrossed in the ‘surf’s up’ vibe and watch the world go by with all its eccentricities. The best place to do this is in one of the rooftop bars such as The Onyx Shangri-La, which offers views across the beautiful boardwalk and out onto the sparkling azure waters of the Pacific.

Drink to try: The LA-tini, with gin, scotch, chartreuse, and jalapeño

Sonoma County

Discover a wine country experience like no other in Sonoma County, located just 48 kilometers north of San Francisco. Connect with local artisans, winemakers, farmers and chefs among the rugged Pacific coastline, soaring redwoods, picturesque vineyards and charming small towns.

With more than 425 award-winning wineries, and 60-plus wine grape varieties grown, Sonoma County barrels a varietal for everyone. Down home hospitality resonates, from small family-run wineries to internationally heralded wine houses. Fine Russian River Valley wines meet their epicurean match at J Vineyards & Winery. From a five-course tasting menu inspired by their latest reserve and small-lot wines, to casual terrace tastings, walking tours and the opportunity to buy limited-edition wines, their visitor center hosts an array of experiences for wine novices and connoisseurs alike.

Drink to try: 2016 Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

South Lake Tahoe

As a city encompassed by nature, the emphasis here is on experiencing the best of the great outdoors and embarking on an exhilarating adventure. Whether that means kayaking across the lake’s glistening surface, mountain biking the white-knuckle trails, or boarding the mountain slopes upon a blanket of powdery snow, the outdoors should be at the heart of any stay.

In summer months, guests can sip on a cool refreshing beer, or by winter, they can wrap up warm on the outdoor terrace with a hot drink and admire the magical winter wonderland that they find themselves in.

Drink to try: Any craft beer under the South Lake Brewing Co. banner (the hazy Questing Citra IPA is dee-lish!)

Santa Cruz

The quintessential Californian seaside city, Santa Cruz County charms its guests with a retro beachfront fairground, impressive surfing scene and excellent wildlife spotting opportunities.

The cool laid-back vibe of the city is mirrored in its drinks scene and nowhere reflects that better than Santa Cruz County Mountain Brewing. Just a short stroll from several beaches, don’t be surprised to bump into the city’s surf community in here. This hipster brewery produces award-winning organic ales that prove that California isn’t just a destination for the wine drinkers.

Drink to try: Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing’s 7.7% Pacific IPA

Yosemite Mariposa County

An area of outstanding natural beauty, the best way to experience all of Yosemite Mariposa County’s grandeur is to chuck on your walking boots and hit the hiking trails to see El Capitan, Half Dome, Tenaya Lake, the breath-taking waterfalls and Glacier Point amongst other sites.

After a day on the hiking trails, the way the locals like to refresh is by visiting the 1850 Restaurant and Brewing Company located in the Gold Rush Town of Mariposa for a taste of their mouth-watering home-brewed beers which are expertly paired with dining options. The California natives have been wowing visitors for over six years now and continue to keep people coming back for another taste of California’s real ale scene.

Drink to try: 1850 Brewing Company’s 4.2% Cripple Creek Pilsner

Newport Beach 

This year from this 3rd-6th October, the charming seaside city of Newport Beach plays host to one of the most exclusive events on the Southern California calendar. The Newport Beach Wine & Food Festival showcases dishes from 40 different restaurants and over 250 types of wines, craft brews and spirits.

For wine lovers, expert sommeliers will be hosting masterclasses and tasting experiences to take you through the superb wine selection on offer from across the state and further afield.  

Drink to try: the recommendation of your expert Sommelier

San Francisco

The city by the bay is well known for many things, from its fishing wharf and Alcatraz island to its world-renowned cable cars and excellent selection of cool watering holes. one such bar is Smuggler’s Cove in Hayes Valley. This quirky dimly lit tiki bar is decorated with vintage tiki artefacts and nautical decor to immerse you in the surreal vibe and provide an escape from reality.

Smuggler’s Cove is one of the top destinations in the state for rum and exotic cocktails and a pit stop at the bar wouldn’t be complete without a taste of the cocktail menu.

Drink to try: Pina Colada


To book your California adventure, contact your Travel Counsellor today and take advantage of benefits including full financial protection and a 24-hour duty office ready to assist you before, during and even after your trip.

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