Start your day at either Rosenblum Cellars or the St. George distillery. Then, when you're good and ready, head to either Park Street or Lincoln Boulevard, where a number of fabulous eateries -- Havana, Tomatina, Pappo and my current obsession, Bagan -- await you.
Did I mention you won't drop $50 for a few bites off small plates and you'll have no trouble parking? The latter is particularly key, as some of my parking searches in Berkeley and San Francisco have ruined my appetite. Then I have to go and slam a few martinis to get it back.
Anyway, after you've savored the delicacies, head to the West end of town and through the mysterious red door that takes you to the East Bay's latest lounge life addition.
The Fireside Lounge shares little with its original incarnation, a dive bar that opened in 1942 and boasted a decor of Oakland Raiders paraphernalia. This version, renovated and reopened six months ago, is not only a subdued and stylish lounge, but also an ode to the cocktail revolution sweeping much of the country, from organic ingredients to homemade infusions. If you're dying to try legalized absinthe, you'll find it here, too.
Last weekend, I headed to the Fireside with Megan and Brian, who are lucky enough to call Alameda home. We'd been drinking Albarino with our luscious Burmese curries
When we got there, we made Brian try the classic Absinthe Sazerac, made with Lucid Absinthe, Cutty Sark Whisky and Angostura Bitters. He called the licorice-tinged cocktail "smoky, smooth and really well-balanced," which means he was pleased.
Megan got the Cinnamon Chai Martini: house-infused cinnamon nutmeg vodka (Fireside owner Patrick Brown is a former pastry chef), chai cream liqueur and a splash of amaretto liqueur. She liked her drink, too, dubbing it "sweet but not too desserty."
As for me, I went with the Sparkling Mistletoe, and was the only one who wasn't thrilled. It was made with rum, which I found both off and odd for a sparkling wine cocktail. Had the Prosecco, Chambord black raspberry liqueur and fresh mint flown solo, I think the drink would've been superb. Oh well.
You've probably gathered that the cocktail list is seasonal. The beer and wine offerings are impressive as well. There's a healthy sampling of international ales and several organic and local brews (40 beers in all), including the Common Lager steam beer from the Linden Street Brewery at the Port of Oakland. Together, now: "Represent."
If you want deets on the bar's new decor, here it is: floor-to-ceiling dark wood with complementary leather sofas and high tables and chairs. Our table was tucked into a dark nook that gave us a good view of the long space. Vintage alcohol ads have replaced the Raiders -- and "Scarface" -- posters and tobacco-stained mirrors that once decorated these walls. A pool table, lonely fireplace (it's begging for a couch or chairs) and maritime accents round out the setup.
I couldn't get Brown to 'fess up about his lighting supplier. He was busy hooking up Megan and Brian with free wine samples. But I've got to say, he's got the coolest silver lanterns dotting the bar. They looked pretty authentic, like he ripped them off Captain Stubing himself. Next time, I'm sitting under one of those.
Night Writer Jessica Yadegaran writes about bars, clubs and similar hangouts. Reach her at 925-943-8155 or jyadegaran @bayareanewsgroup.com.