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Where to Drink and Be Seen

An explosion of drinking establishments has turned the East Bay into a bona fide destination for libations.


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Shamrock Irish Pub (1403 Webster St., Alameda, 510-769-9788) attracts a mix of hormonal twentysomethings and wanna-be punk rockers, and features two pool tables, darts, Foosball, pinball, video gambling, and a peanut dispenser.

The Trappist (460 8th St., Oakland, 510-238-8900, TheTrappist.com) is the place to go if you want to step back in time and taste some of the finest hops around, made in the most venerable of traditions.

Triple Rock Brewery and Alehouse's (1920 Shattuck Ave., Berkeley, 510-843-2739, TripleRock.com) has a local vibe, a dozen house beers on tap, comfort food, and the best rooftop beer garden in the East Bay.

Warehouse Bar (402 Webster St., Oakland, 510-451-3161, TheWarehouseBar.net) caters to our civic men and women in uniform. Beyond that, the Warehouse is a clean, friendly watering hole for watching the game on the flat-screen TV, enjoying a burger, or taking part in one of the monthly charity events.

Warehouse Cafe (5 Canyon Lake Dr., Port Costa, 510-787-1827) is your place to try out exotic and international beers, whether you're looking for that brew you haven't seen since El Salvador or are just bored with the selection at your local store.

Z's Cocktail Lounge (1403 Encinal Ave., Alameda, 510-749-9900) is a neighborhood bar, but it's no dive; stylish Z's is adorned with ornate chandeliers overhead, upholstered and cushioned barstools, a gleaming cherry-wood bar, and decorative lion-head pillars behind the bar.

Bars for Seeing and Being Seen

The Air Bar & Lounge (492 9th St., Oakland, 510-444-2377, AirOakland.com) is located below street level in Old Oakland, has a spacious-yet-cozy interior, and exudes an upscale, VIP vibe for the urban hip.

Bench and Bar (510 17th St., Oakland, 510-444-2266, Bench-and-Bar.com) aims to please with theme nights like "Latin Explosion" on Fridays, "Club Rimshot" on Saturdays (hip-hop and R&B), and "Beautiful" (house) on Thursdays — and succeeds with flying, uh, colors.

Club 21 (2111 Franklin St., Oakland, 510-268-9425, Club21Oakland.com) is a spinoff of the Bench and Bar, and, appropriately, features themed nights such as "La Bota Loca" (aka Latino Cowboys night with go-go boys galore), "Tasty" (ladies' night) on Thursdays, and "The Escape" for the college crowd on Tuesdays.

Club Anton (428 3rd St., Oakland, 510-463-0165, ClubAnton.com) remains perhaps the only Latin jazz club in the entire world that would feature Bay Area turf rapper G-Stack and DJ True Justice on a Thursday and follow up with Tony Mayfield or Pepe y Su Orquesta on a Saturday — a lineup patrons definitely seem to dig.

Club Montero's (1106 Solano Ave., Albany, 510-524-1270, ClubMonteros.com), located inside Montero's Cafe, dedicates its weekends to salsa, with intermediate lessons on Thursdays and classes for newbies on Fridays and Saturdays, followed each night by dancing till the early mañana.

Club Paradiso (2272 Telegraph Ave., Oakland 510-735-9095, DisoLounge.com), located in the much-contested building that once contained the Vibe Lounge and its predecessor, Cables Reef, is the Uptown analogue to Air Lounge, both in terms of its decor (exposed brick, chic lounge chairs, paintings with an "urban" slant) and its music (hip-hop, reggae, and R&B).

The Den (1912 Telegraph Ave., Oakland, TheDenOakland.com), adjunct to the Fox Theater, has become a go-to spot in its own right. Besides its two-tiered dance floor and lounge area, the Den offers a selection of hoity-toity appetizers (smoked salmon rillets, artichoke bacon dip, and cheese plates with stuffed apricots), and original cocktails — the "Encore" is essentially a liquid chocolate cake with Stoli. Not to mention the wall-to-wall windows, which provide a first-rate view of Telegraph Avenue.

Easy Lounge (3255 Lakeshore Ave., Oakland, 510-338-4911, Easy510.com) attracts an eclectic crowd — doe-eyed hipster chicks, suave urbanites, eccentric locals, and even suits fresh off of work — and the tunes are just as varied, thanks to different DJ themes each night — from rockabilly to salsa, 1980s to funk.

Era Art Bar and Lounge (19 Grand Ave., Oakland, 510-832-4400, OaklandEra.com), surrounded by a cluster of similarly themed boutique bars, combines industrial elements with nouveau Goth — the chairs could have been poached from a 19th-century English parlor.

Geoffrey's Inner Circle (410 14th St., Oakland, 510-839-4644, GeoffreysInnerCircle.com) can still stake its claim as Oakland's premier black nightclub.

Island Paradise Club (1436 Webster St., Alameda, 510-865-3225, IslandParadiseClub.com) specializes in dancehall, reggae, R&B, merengue, and soca, erring more on the pop side.

Karibbean City (1408 Webster St., Oakland, 510-251-0769, KaribbeanCity.com) has as a diverse entertainment lineup — which represents the panoply of Caribbean music from salsa to dancehall roots to Afropop — and proffers a savory selection of Jamaican cuisine.

Kingman's Lucky Lounge (3332 Grand Ave., Oakland, 510-465-5464, KingmansCocktails.com) caters to a dressy yet diverse crowd and features a full bar, ample mood lighting, and DJs spinning downtempo, house, funk, and drum 'n' bass.

Kitty's (6702 Hollis St., Emeryville, 510-601-9300, BarKittys.com) proves that Emeryville really does have a pulse, with its rotating lineup of DJs, a patio that's swarmed in warm weather, and a regular crowd of upscale loft-dwellers and thirsty Pixar workers who've just punched out.

Liege (481 9th St., Oakland, 510-835-4343, LiegeOakland.com) is a cocktail lounge/hipster hangout/sports bar that serves a menu of ambitious global cuisine that changes countries every eight weeks.

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