the happiest hour

Posted by Stace on October 17, 2011 in Tourist in My Own Town |

In the Napa Valley, with all our amazing restaurants, wine bars, and actual wineries, sometimes it feels like there are a million places to go. One thing, though, that you may be hard-pressed to find, is a true happy hour. There are a few, but this summer my girlfriends and I decided to create our own wherever we chose to go on Friday afternoons after work. By that I mean only that we would pick a fabulous place we’d not yet visited, sit at the bar, and share a few small plates over drinks. Here are a few of our favorites!

One Friday back in July, Jen and I chose Farmstead for our first adventure. The place has a gorgeous atmosphere, and yet is refreshingly casual, with staff dressed in plaid shirts and jeans. We each ordered a Dimmi Hendricks to start:
(Hendricks gin, Dimmi liquore, lemon verbena, strawberry preserves, and lemon juice with ginger beer, which was a perfect cocktail after a long day), along with an order of delicious cheddar biscuits with honey butter:

For our second (and final) round of drinks, Jen chose the Summer Garden:

(white rum, simple syrup, strawberries and lemon juice) and I couldn’t resist the pretty Roxa:

(Leblon cachaça, blueberry puree, lemon juice, mint, and simple syrup – this one was my favorite of the day). Though we haven’t had a chance yet to get back, I can’t wait to do so – Farmstead has a really great vibe that somehow balances cozy and hip; I love it!

A few weeks later, we wandered into Cindy’s Backstreet Kitchen. Jen ordered the Sidecar Named Desire:

(pear cognac, Cointreau and lemon juice) and I had to try the Effen Good Cherry Lemonade:

(Effen black cherry vodka with fresh squeezed lemon & lime juice). We decided to share several things, including a cup of the seasonal soup (green tomatillo, on this particular day):

the pasta del giorno (spaghetti with fresh basil, tomatoes, sweet corn, bacon and parmesan):

a side of polenta fries:

with basil aioli for dipping:

and the adult grilled cheese, which changes daily:

Somehow, unbelievably, we decided also to share a dessert. As with nearly everything else on this particular visit, we chose the “today only” selection, which happened to be an apricot crostata with vanilla ice cream and caramel:

Stuffed and happy, we finally left, promising to visit again soon.

Recently, Becca and I spent a delicious Friday afternoon at the new wine bar 1313 Main in downtown Napa. As if we needed more incentive, we’d heard that they added a “Bubble Bar” to their regular wines-by-the-glass list for Fridays and Saturdays, and we couldn’t resist. (What’s better than lots and lots of bubbles on a Friday afternoon with a friend? We couldn’t think of anything either!) Having never been there before, (okay, and having just bought a brand new camera I wanted to play with!) I took my time wandering around snapping pictures – the place is beautiful!

As you can see, there is ample seating, so no matter what your preference (bar, back bar, fireside, cozy nooks, outside, or even private table), they’ve got you covered. Because Bubble Bar adds an appropriate 13 additional sparkling wines by the glass, Becca & opted to sit at the main bar with the bartenders and discuss our choices. Wines by the glass are available in 2 or 5 oz pours, so the two of us decided to stick to the short pours and sample as many bubbles as we could!

For those wanting to purchase wines by the bottle, either for drinking or for adding to your personal cellar, 1313 Main has you covered there as well:

We tasted everything from Spanish cavas to Italian proseccos to French bruts, several rosés, and perhaps most impressively, a delicious Blanc de Blancs from New Mexico of all places, and an extravagant brut rosé from Billecart-Salmon, and eventually decided we had to order something to nibble on, so we settled on the Chevre Truffles:

which are red grapes covered with Laura Chenel goat cheese and crumbled pistachios – they were so delicious we ended up with three orders by the time we left! We finished off with the chocolate truffle trio:

of (left to right) bacon, sea salted-caramel, and masala curry. They were interesting, but the curry was an easy favorite – next time I’d ask if I could have an order of three of those instead! All in all, it was a great afternoon and a much needed escape – that’s what Napa does best!

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