While Benicia is justifiably proud to a great family town, downtown nightlife has become a lure for residents and tourists alike, especially when accompanied by live music. Ten blocks of brightly lit trees on First Street invite folks to enjoy the charming ambience, and feel safe and welcome after the sun goes down. The renewal of the B.I.D.—administered by the Downtown Benicia Alliance, a coalition of businesses in the downtown core who maintain the lights—recently passed by a large majority. After the city is finished pruning the trees, new lights will be installed, just in time for the holidays.

The cozy glow has revitalized the area, foot traffic and sales tax revenue have significantly increased, and the street is populated with dog walkers, families out for a bite to eat and others just enjoying the scene. Another byproduct of increased downtown activity is the investment bars and restaurant owners are making to their businesses and stepping up their game, creating an upscale atmosphere for adults to indulge in their favorite cocktail. Specialty ingredients and fashionable flavorings add flair and drama to the experience.

Bottom of the 5th
The Blue Flame

Lucca Bar and Grill

We asked downtown bartenders about customer favorites and popular libations. The answers were interesting—some drinks are improvised for customers with a sense of adventure, some serve old standards, some drinks have a story and others are highly imaginative.

Rookies Sports
Bar and Grill,
Southern Strawberry

At Rookies, patrons prefer the Southern Strawberry Lemonade, with strawberry-lemon vodka, fresh lemon and muddled berries, shaken and topped with soda water. Named after Jan and Carl Lucca’s father, Lucca’s “Carminetini,” comes with a backstory. Key ingredients include Skyy Infusions Pineapple Vodka, St. George Raspberry and Grand Marnier. At Sailor Jacks, the “Shirley Slammer” was completely improvised by bartender Laurie—an invigorating, fruity drink on a hot September day. Bottom of the 5th customers enjoy “The Blue Flame” and Cullen’s guests like the classic Old Fashioned, made with Michter’s American Whiskey, Badabing Cherries, Paychaud’s Bitters, a sugar cube and orange garnish.

Sailor Jacks
Shirley Slammer

For a refreshing sip on October’s still-warm days, The Loft’s “Loft Lemonade” includes fresh mint, fresh basil-lemon puree and Absolut Citron. An interesting offering at The Rellik is “The Verbena,” where you sip first, then completely chew the Szechuan Button perched atop the glass, which has a numbing affect that “opens your taste buds.” As the drink is consumed, the various flavors are enhanced.

Check out the offerings from these downtown establishments, say cheers to this wonderful community that caters to all ages, and make sure you have a designated driver.

Downtown Bars

Nine Zero Seven (formerly the 907 Grill)
907 First Street, 707.746.0505

Elvarita’s Cantina & Catering
725 First Street, 707.751.1705

The Rellik Tavern
726 First Street, 707.746.1137

Lucca Bar and Grill
439 First Street, 707.745.0943

Union Hotel Restaurant & Bar
401 First Street, 707.746.7847

321 First Street, 707.746.7665

The Loft
280 First Street, 707.745.4200

Cullen’s Tannery Pub & Saloon
131 First Street, 707.637.5300

Sailor Jacks
123 First Street, 707.746.8500

Wine Bars

The Chill Wine Bar
362 First Street, 707.746.5530

Upstairs @ First Street Café
440 First Street, 707.745.1400

Bottom of the 5th Sports Bar & Grill
498 Military East, 707.745.9949