Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Singlebarrel - Coolest Bar in Town

While I'm not a big drinker, over the course of my life I think I've been to at least 90% of all the bars in Downtown San Jose and a good portion of the top places in the greater bay area. Singlebarrel is far and away the coolest bar I've ever been to.

It's easy to miss since it's in the basement below Agenda/Bayonne and a barrel is the only signage adorning the exterior. Depending on the time you go, there may be a line wrapping around the corner helping you find your way. However, it is worth both the search and/or wait. By the time you get to the bottom of the steps, you find yourself in a different time--you've just entered a prohibition-style speakeasy! The ambiance is dark and relaxed, with old-school music playing in the background. The bartenders are even dressed in era-appropriate attire.

Now on to the best part... the drinks! Most of the menu is inspired from classic recipes and they are made primarily the original way. Everything is made from scratch. If a drink uses fruit, they're going to cut up fresh sample before infusing it into your drink. I was also surprised to see the bartenders crack raw eggs to extract fresh egg-whites for some of their cocktails. Speaking of the bartenders, the service is phenomenal. They are extremely knowledgeable regarding the full history of all their drinks: how they were invented, who drank them, how they became popular, etc. In addition to the history, the service is outstanding in general. 

2 of my favorite drinks:
- Ramos Gin Fizz: ONLY SERVED BETWEEN 5-6PM (and worth coming early for), takes a solid 10 minutes to make, tastes amazing, and you get a refill when you're halfway done.
- The Old Fashioned: The original cocktail. Aged whiskey, sugar, bitters, lemon, and the magic Singlebarrel touch... a giant spherical Japanese ice cube (it keeps the drink cold for longer without diluting it).

Singlebarrel is the type of unique attraction that we need more of Downtown and in San Jose in general. Definitely worth visiting, and I recommend going early for the full drink selection and extra-exceptional service.


  1. ah, the unfortunate demise of singlebarrel. darn. now too popular with that lame crowd that hangs out down around that corner. last few times i tried to go there was a long line with a whole lot of skank mini-skirt wearing... well, yeah. very cool bar though.

  2. Try going there at 5pm or 6pm, it's a very different feel!

  3. As a long time fan of early 20th century history, culture and society, the look of Single Barrel was such a disappointment. I felt as if the owners decided to open a speakeasy and go off what they thought one would look like, rather than what one should look like. A little bit more elbow grease and they could have had a really superb joint. The hostess in the cheap Halloween flapper costume made me frown because it was such a gimmick. LOL, San Jose. Way to live up to everything I know you to be. Love you, but man, get a clue.

  4. Thanks for giving that clue Joshua, since whenever I prefer to visit there I can only see a long queue.