Here’s one weird thing about Napa: You’re in the middle of wine country, and sometimes you’ll find yourself unable to get a drink. Things shut down early. Your choices range from dive bars packed with drunk local kids to fancy bars connected to fancy restaurants. So here are our picks at both ends of the spectrum, plus a few local faves that don’t really fit into either category.
1205 Main Street, St. Helena
A young crowd, cold beers, a “Mexican” theme (sombreros and jalapeño Christmas lights over the pool table), and a surprisingly energetic scene for such a small town mean Anna’s Cantina goes off almost every night. Especially on Thursdays, when the karaoke machine is cranked full blast. This is where people head to take care of some serious drinking.
Pancha’s of Yountville
Pancha’s of Yountville
6764 Washington Street, Yountville
Total freakin’ dive. Country music, pool tables, and locals conversing loudly, hootin’ an’ hollerin’ at a skirted journalist from their classic, ancient barstools. When a photographer asked if he could take a picture, the bartender drawled, “I don’t give a shit!” The neon Budweiser signs buzz seven days a week from noon until 2 a.m. at the only bar in the valley where smoking’s still allowed inside (shhh!). This is the real, old Yountville, for better or for worse, when things weren’t so ootsy-cutesy quaint.
1245 Spring Street, St. Helena
Martini House is a fabulous restaurant in its own right, one of the several co-owned by Pat Kuleto, whose other restaurants include Jardinière, Boulevard, and Farallon. These are all recognizable by their almost over-the-top décor that usually includes lots of big wrought-iron and blown-glass fixtures, and Martini House is no exception. A jasmine-scented outdoor patio glows from metal lily lights. The bar, romantically located in the restaurant’s cellar, serves stellar cocktails. It’s an off-hours favorite for high-end servers with fistfuls of tips: Few drinks cost less than 10 bucks, but they’re worth it.
Bounty Hunter Rare Wine & Provisions
975 First Street, Napa
Bounty Hunter feels like a speakeasy, with dark, rough brick walls, large wood columns running down the middle of the room, and a metal roof. An eclectic music mix from techno-pop to the Four Seasons plays on the sound system. A huge bar offers more than 40 wines by the glass, and 10 times as many bottles, with a wide range of beers represented. The décor is partly Old West, partly New Napa, and it’s hard to tell if it’s tacky or cool, which automatically makes it cool. There’s food too: snacky things like charcuterie and sandwiches that you can eat on little marble tables. A very fun place to end a long day of wine tasting, though you can’t bring your own.
Silverado Brewing Company
3020 St. Helena Highway, St. Helena
This northern Napa Valley spot is modeled after the area’s many stone wine caves, and is likely to be playing Bob Marley. After sipping vino all day, a cold pint and a Niman Ranch burger are highly fortifying. Especially on Silverado’s outdoor patio, in the warm Napa evening. Try a rotating selection of beers brewed in-house alongside area winemakers, tasting-room employees, and waiters who have come after work; the bar’s open until 2 a.m. Food is served until 8:30 p.m. on weekdays, 9:30 p.m. on weekends.