Instagram-worthy cocktails

Twenty delicious mixed drinks for sipping and snapping


To check out the full lineup of Sacramento Cocktail Week events, September 10-16, go to for tickets and a calendar.

Empress Tavern

1013 K Street,

Located beneath the Crest Theatre, Empress Tavern is a dimly lit cavern of meaty excess—which just makes its Pocket Square cocktail ($11) all the more surprisingly light and refreshing. Made with Meletti, an Italian liqueur, bubbly prosecco and vodka, any cloying sweetness is offset by hints of grapefruit, cucumber and lime. Served in a tall, cut crystal glass with tons of ice and a festive black-and-white paper straw, its #gardenparty vibe makes for the perfect #endofsummer cocktail.

- @R.L.

Steamboat Landing

12414 State Highway 160 in Courtland,

The north Delta’s newest restaurant is nestled between the Sacramento River, a winding slide-slough and a 300-acre fruit farm. Dubbed Steamboat Landing, this Courtland eatery is owned by the Neuharth family and gazes out on its sprawling, legacy pear orchard. In addition to its riverside barbecuing, Steamboat Landing debuted with a special drink, the Pear Prosecco Float ($12), which combines a cold cup of sparkly with two huge scoops of organic pear sorbet made fresh from the orchard. It’s a crisp, icy shot of farm sweetness.

- @STA

Serpentine Fox Prohibition Grille

2645 El Camino Avenue, This old bartender’s trick creates a mist of caramelized lemon zest that lands gently on the surface of a Perfect Manhattan ($11). Joseph Crowder of the #SerpentineFox knows the trick. #bulleitrye #halfsweethalfdryvermouth #bitters #twistnocherry #ardenarcade- @E.J.

Seafood House Quan Oc

6741 Stockton Boulevard.

The jewel of the Lychee Martini ($10) is the tropical fruit drowning in the glass. Imagine a vodka martini livened up slightly with triple sec and the flavor of the submerged lychee permeating the alcohol. Lychees taste similarly to pears, only hyper-sweet like a kiwi. #NoOlive


Sail Inn Grotto & Bar

1522 Jefferson Boulevard in West Sacramento,

This West Sacramento dive-bar-slash-rum-grotto is a perfect spot to hide from the midday sun while sucking down slushie-based cocktails and tiki-bar classics. The OG Mai Tai ($10)—served up with amber rum, orgeat and fresh pineapple—is best enjoyed on the patio paired with a #deltabreeze.

- @J.B.

Florez Bar & Grill

5900 S. Land Park Drive,

It’s happy hour all day at Florez Bar & Grill. So why not sip on one or two margaritas to kick off the work week? A customer fav is the Jamaican Margarita ($8) with its salty and spicy Tajín rim and deep ruby color from the use of #hibiscus.

- @S.R.

Kasbah Lounge

2115 J Street,

The Zahra cocktail ($10) is named after the Arabic word with the double meaning of “beautiful” and “flower blossom.” Co-owner Debbie Wu desired to create a cocktail that evoked the smell of springtime blossoms; it combines Lebanese lebneh, orange blossom water, housemade jasmine tea syrup, cognac and a dusting of tart sumac into an unusually floral, creamy cocktail with a punch. #sacramentospring #almondblossoms #orangeblossoms #badassfemalebartender

- @B.G.

The Jungle Bird

2516 J Street,

I hear the soundtrack to Disneyland’s Enchanted Tiki Room whenever I enter this restaurant that’s strewn with parrots on perches. That said, what better to drink from than a macaw? The Jungle Bird ($10) comes in a made-for-Instagram ceramic parrot. Corumba Dark Jamaican Rum, simple syrup and pineapple juice establish a foundation of sweetness, while lime adds a note of acid. Campari dominates it all with bitterness like the truth: These birds won’t sing like the ones at Disney, but the drink’s strong enough to prompt you to coo #InTheTikiTikiTikiRoom.

- @R.H.

Iron Horse Tavern

1800 15th Street,

A little break from happy hour cocktails doesn’t have to be tasteless or boring, so give that liver a rest with #mocktails. In the Strawberry Lemonade ($3.95), fresh fruit and bubbles tickle the palate. Muddled lemons and sparkling soda are garnished with fresh strawberries, and the mix of sweet-and-sour makes for a delicious bevy without the alcoholic kicker. #farmtococktail


Magpie Cafe

1601 16th Street,

Maybe alcoholic drinks shouldn’t remind us of our #childhood but Magpie Cafe’s Cherry Whiskey Sour ($11) tastes like a boozy pink lemonade if ever there was a thing. Made with Four Roses bourbon, cherry liqueur and lemon juice, it’s shaken with simple syrup and aquafaba. The latter is chickpea brine and is used as a #vegan substitute for raw egg whites to give the drink fun, frothy texture. The overall flavor vibe is lightly tart and lightly sweet. It’s garnished with a lemon twist and the cutest, tiniest cherry ever, and it makes for 100 percent #summertimethrowback fun.

- @R.L.

The Pocket Club

5043 Freeport Boulevard.

When you’re tired of the Midtown cocktail scene and its preciously concocted and pricey drinks, pull up a stool for a stiff one at The Pocket Club. Straight-talking bartenders Janet or Loretta can mix up a whiskey sour with a benevolent pour of George Dickel Rye for all of $4. Shaken with lemon juice and just a whisper of sugar, the only frill here is a maraschino cherry. #cocktailswithnofilter #stiffnotsweet #noURL.

- @R.H.

Arthur Henry's Supper Club & Ruby Room

3406 Broadway,

On paper, Queen Anne’s Revenge ($10) looks unnecessarily complicated. Like #GameofThrones who-did-what-to-whom-now complicated. In the glass and on the taste buds, however, it is lovely. Bacardi Superior rum and gunpowder green tea syrup are imbued with zingy ginger liqueur, citrusy blood orange and lime juice for a fruity smooth delight. If this is what #winteriscoming tastes like, pile on those fake fur animal skins, we’re ready.

- @R.L.

The Red Rabbit

2718 J Street,

The Dead Penguin ($11) is far more pleasant than a bird corpse. This cocktail tastefully balances the smoky musk of mezcal against the herbed sweetness of Yellow Chartreuse, the vanilla touch of Luxardo amaretto, a sugary tinge of sweet vermouth and a touch of bitters to create a complex cocktail for those who want it both fancy and vicious. It’s served in a very small glass with a curved bit of lemon rind that makes you wish you were tuxing it up like a penguin. If you’re carelessly gulping, it runs the risk of making you feel like you’re dead to match. Gentle sips, pinky out.

- @A.S.

Bottle & Barlow

1120 R Street,

Often a supporting actor in savory dishes, rosemary stars as a garnish and muddled herb in Black Sheep ($10), a tart cocktail built on gin and blackberry juice. With a little bit of amaro montenegró thrown in for good measure, this refreshing top-seller’s bouquet of floral and herby flavors goes down easiest during a warm evening on the patio.

- @J.F.

Midtown's Cantina Alley

2320 Jazz Alley,

More refreshing than a Bloody Mary, the Michelada Puerca ($7) at Midtown’s Cantina Alley is a sip-from-the-bartop-only type of drink. The behemoth features strips of chicharrónes, a liberally salted rim and a housemade spice mix serving as a literal counterbalance to a drink garnished with a full bottle of Corona. #unomás

- @J.B.

Hook & Ladder Manufacturing Co.

1630 S Street,

No need to choose between caffeine and a brunch cocktail—Jump Start ($8) covers both bases. Creamy housemade coffee liqueur meets the almond-sweetness of Luxardo amaretto and the richness of Camellia Coffee Roasters’ cold brew. It’s all topped off with (pink!) whipped cream made with Angostura bitters and a dusting of fresh nutmeg. With its dual-personality, the picturesque drink says: “Good morning, now relax.”

- @R.H.

The Shady Lady Saloon

1409 R Street,

Even though it’s unlisted on the menu, the best drink at this modern speakeasy might be the New York Sour ($9). Underneath an eggwhite froth, the triple-layered concoction layers some cabernet above a bed of bourbon, simple syrup and freshly squeezed lemon juice. It’s a time-consuming creation, so sip slowly and tip generously.

- @J.F.

Back Door Lounge

1112 Firehouse Alley.

Let’s be clear, you go to the Back Door Lounge not for the artisanal cocktails. You go for the experience and divey #nostalgia. Overly sweet Old-Fashioned ($6)? Whatever, it’s strong isn’t it? Sip slowly, take in the red and gold flocked wallpaper and gaze admiringly at yourself in the mirrored ceiling. Eavesdrop on the lazy, late night chit-chat via the bar’s only other couple and soak up the sounds of Cheap Trick, Fleetwood Mac or whatever else strikes your fancy on the jukebox. Order another and relax, this is #asgoodasitgets, my friend.

- @R.L.

Gracianos's Chicago Deep Dish Pizza & Speakeasy

1023 Front Street.

Echoing its ’20s and ’30s theme, Graciano’s names some of its cocktails after famous criminals from the public-enemy era. Based on the bank-robbing couple, Bonnie ($8) is equal parts sour and sweet, mixing raspberry vodka and apple pucker with cranberry and Sprite. Clyde ($8) is a long Island iced tea—vodka, gin, rum, triple sec—with an added kick of tequila, elderflower liquor and ginger ale fizz, all naturally tangy with orange juice. The cocktails are worth ordering as a pair for the contrast. They did die together. #togetherforever

- @M.Z.

La Islita

2236 Northgate Blvd.

The Metiche (Curious) Michelada at this muy auténtico seafood restaurant was inspired by a photograph. Some friends of co-owner Juan Medrano, visiting Sinaloa, snapped a shot and sent it to him. “Can your mom [La Isita’s master chef] make one like this?” Rimmed with a half-dozen shrimp and sliced cucumbers, spiced, iced and served with an upside-down Pacifico, it is hot-weather perfection. #mariscos #Northgate #Mariachi

- @E.J.