In pursuit of the memorable craft spirits that I sampled at the annual Craft Spirits Carnival in San Francisco, I booked a reservation last Saturday night at Duende in Uptown Oakland for a double date. Duende is interesting all-around, inside and out, but its claim to fame is their tapas. The four of us were seriously taken aback at the wonderful flavors. Diverse, intense, satisfying, each plate completely different from the next.
Having the perfect drink in hand didn’t hurt either. Tariq is the expert mixologist at the bar. He made me a “Red Vesper” with Botanica Spiritvs Gin per my request. Without wanting to overdo my adjectives in one post, I’ll simply recommend that you visit Tariq and request this exact drink.
I was very happy at Duende with my drink and tapas, but since we had big eaters among us (tapas are small plates after all) and due to the fact that we don’t get to Uptown Oakland very often, we decided to visit two other places. First we walked a block or so south to Bar Dogwood. There, I wanted to have an Amaro but didn’t know which one to choose. In a split second, the bartender gathered the options for me. She was so cute and cheerful, I asked her to pose for a photo. Later I found out that her name is Molly. I love when a name fits a person so well. Molly poured me a neat Amaro Nonino. It was sweet, smooth, and so nice to sip.
Our last stop was at Rudy’s Can’t Fail Café, again just a walk away. Rudy’s co-owner is Mike Dirnt from Green Day—this video will tell you all about it. At Rudy’s you can fill up with hearty breakfast burgers and omelets, which we did. The cool thing is, Rudy’s also has a full bar with those craft spirits that had inspired our night out in the first place. I noticed the Botanica Gin was on the menu, this time mixed with orange and grapefruit juice. I shared the refreshing cocktail with my brother-in-law who had no complaints.
On our way to the car, we talked about taking BART next time. The 19th Street station is right there in the heart of this happening area. How could I have lived so long in the Bay Area and not know this? I’m not sure, but now I do, and you do too.