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Metro Santa Cruz 2004 Bars and Clubs Issue
[ A to Z | Guide | Live Music ]

An A to Z of Santa Cruz Bars and Clubs

If you can read this backward, you may be OK to drive

A Is for Aptos

The Windjammer is looking better and better these days, not only because of the facelift it's gotten over the last year. With the Aptos Club, the Windjammer and the Mediterranean all within a hop, skip and a jump of each other, Aptos circa State Park Drive used to be a thriving little epicenter of live music. Then the Aptos Club got shaken down and management lost control; new management is still struggling to redefine the club. Meanwhile, the Med is cutting out live music completely, and owner Patrick McKee is looking to sell the club. People like Jackie Wright (see M) have tried to bid on it, but the music permit situation is in such bad shape that only a crazy person would try to go down that road. Can Aptos remain a county live-music hotspot? Stay tuned.

B Is for Beer

99 Bottles has the widest selection of beer in town, but the Seabright Brewery has its own supply of unique originals, as does the Boulder Creek Brewing Company. For room-temperature Guinness, the Poet & Patriot is your best (and, er, only?) bet. Britannia Arms sports a healthy supply of beers on tap, as does the Catalyst. For some of the cheapest beers in town, head over to the Palomar at happy hour for $2 pints, or hit Taqueria Cancun in Seabright for $7 pitchers of Red Hook anytime.

C Is for Comedy at Crow's Nest

Standup comedy lovers can get a healthy three-act dose of their medicine at the Crow's Nest every Sunday night. And if that weren't enough, the Nest also hosts preliminary and semifinal rounds of the San Francisco Comedy Competition, a Northern California event moving into its 30th season that culls young talent from around the country. Visit www.crowsnest-santacruz.com for specific details.

D Is for Darts

It's easy to find a dart board in town; it's quite another thing to win a tournament. But here's where you can try: The Corner Pocket, the Windjammer, the Poet & Patriot, Brittania Arms and the 1007 Club & Smoking Parlor.

E Is for Elk Heads

You can search all you want around the Brookdale Lodge, but you won't find a single elk head adorning the walls. Peachwood's, you ask? Nothing but golf clubs and golf bags. No, the only place in town that you can find no fewer than four proper elk heads in town (symbolizing justice, motherly love charity and fidelity) is--wait for it--the Elk Lodge. If you're not a member, check it out during Octoberfest next year--the leather bar alone is worth the trip. No, that's leather bar as in the bar is leather, you pervs.

F Is for Frou-Frou Drinks

There's a sort of isosceles Bermuda triangle (work with us here) of restaurants in town--Clouds, Pearl Alley, Las Olas Cantina and Costa Brava--that also happen to serve all the refined sugary goodness and expensive alcohol you could possible want. Belly up to the bar for specialties like the caramel apple martini (Clouds), a special gingery Long Island Iced Tea (Pearl Alley) and the ever-popular Costa Brava lemon drop. In an unrelated story, Judy at the Red Room serves up the best Bloody Mary known on the planet. No joke--this is one of the easiest drinks to totally botch, but Judy makes hers with plenty of celery salt and pepper, perfect Tabasco and horseradish, not too much Worcestershire (a common mistake) and a veritable salad of extra love on top.

G Is for Gay Friendly

Three clubs in town go above and beyond to make the Santa Cruz's gay community feel at home. Two of them are obvious--Dakota and Blue Lagoon. The third? Troy Manchester, owner of the brand new construction-themed Club Caution, says that his place will definitely cater to the diversity of Santa Cruz, whether you're straight, gay or somewhere in between. The new club is scheduled to open on Nov. 12 of this year.

H Is for Hip-Hop

Two of the most committed crews in Santa Cruz--Lost and Found Generation and Rec League Records--have joined forces to produce new music for the artists involved and, more importantly, a biweekly hip-hop event on Friday nights at the 120 Union Cafe which finally got its beer and wine license.

I Is for International

There's lots of local music with an international flavor, starting with the ever-popular Brazilian band SambaDá. Or you can take a trip to North Africa with Aza. Universal Language trots the musical globe, but keeping up on the dance floor is easier than you might think. Also, check out www.zookbeat.com and www.cayugavault.com to keep up with some of the amazing international acts coming through town.

J Is for Jury Room

One of Santa Cruz's culty dive bars. See R, Y.

K Is for Karaoke

If someone you know has lost that lovin' feeling, feel free to let them know, Maverick-style, at any one of the following bars: Garage Bar, Boardwalk Bowl, the Fogbank and 99 Bottles. Back Door, R.I.P.

L Is for Lorelei Records

After the legendary local punk band Fury 66 disbanded, guitarist Russ Rankin went on to head Good Riddance while singer Joe Clements got a job working for Sessions Records. Now, Clements has his own record label, which has released music by Audiocrush, the Fire Sermon, Here Kitty Kitty, Farewell to Youth, Good Riddance and Los Dryheavers, all while producing countless shows in assorted venues all over Santa Cruz. Check out their website at www.loreleirecords.com for more info about bands and shows.

M Is for the Music Lady

Jackie Wright, a.k.a. the Music Lady, started booking bands in Santa Cruz back in the '70s. After an extended hiatus, Wright began booking again for the Windjammer in Aptos, and is now also booking bands around the corner at the Aptos Club. Wright says she works with around 100 local bands in both management and booking capacities. See A for more on Wright.

N Is for Neighborhood Disturbances

The Crow's Nest cut back on their beach parties because of rowdy out-of-towners spilling into adjacent neighborhoods; the Seabright Brewery faces similar complaints during its Tuesday evening "Neighborhood Night," even though it closes at 11pm. The Mediterranean mustered complaints from neighbors that triggered a review of their music permit (or lack thereof). Even the Catalyst has to eject its patrons from the sidewalk in front of the venue in order to comply with the city's loitering laws. If only we could keep our big, drunk mouths shut. Hello, Sharper Image? This is Santa Cruz--we need a gigantic one of those noise-canceling devices, pronto! What? They don't actually work? (Click.)

O Is for Oxygen Bar

In a town with as many health junkies as we have, it's no small wonder that an oxygen bar can be found in the Italian ice cream store on Pacific Avenue called Gelatomania. Granted, it lacks the exotic ambience of the chi-chi oxygen bars in L.A. and S.F., but after a night out in a smoky bar, gelato and oxygen might be just what the doctor ordered. Some people swear by pure oxygen as a hangover cure, a belief that has nothing to do with why we have so many live plants here in the Metro Santa Cruz office.

P Is for Pool Tournaments

Once again, you can find a pool table in every other bar you try, but to test your skills against your neighbors head down to the Corner Pocket, Fast Eddy's Billiards, The Catalyst, 1007, JJ's Saloon, The Castaways and Joe's Bar.

Q Is for Quiet

We can't guarantee peace and quiet anywhere, but there are a few places you can go that will up your chances of finding it. Try Bonesio Wine Bar, Pearl Alley Bistro & Wine Bar, Peachwood's at Pasatiempo Inn, The Mainsail Restaurant, Olitas, Riva Fish House, Max's Lounge at the Hilton and the Shadowbrook.

R Is for Rush Inn

One of Santa Cruz's ironically appreciated dive bars. See J, Y.

S Is for Scoring

Send all footage and pics to Metro Santa Cruz, 115 Cooper St., Santa Cruz, CA 95062, c/o Steve Palopoli.

T Is for Taxi

Program these numbers of 24-hour cab company phone numbers into your cell phone (or address book): Yellow Cab, 831.423.1234. Village Taxi: 831.662.TAXI. Deluxe Cab, 831.688.2468.

U Is for Underwater Viewing Room

It's true, the Brookdale Lodge is the only place you can go to enjoy a cocktail while spying on swimmers from a special underwater viewing room. The Mermaid Room is also infamous for its supernatural visitors, making it a perfect nightspot for otherworldly romance.

V Is for Virgin Drinks

Don't feel like getting smashed? Fake out your friends by secretly ordering virgin drinks that look just like the real thing--or, "mocktails," as they're known in the trade--and amaze your friends with your newfound tolerance. Try ordering things like a refreshing ginger beer, a Safe Sex on the Beach, a Virgin Mary, or the ever-popular virgin daiquiri.

W Is for Wine

For a good time with some good wine, check out Soif, Las Olas, Pearl Alley, Bonesio Wine Bar, Chocolate, Cafe Cruz, Shadowbrook and the Bittersweet Bistro.

X Is for Xylophone

You know what Santa Cruz needs? A good xylophone act. Just thought we'd throw that out there.

Y Is for Ye Olde Watering Hole

One of Santa Cruz's venerable dive bars. See J, R.

Z Is for Zelda's Songwriter's Showcase

For the third consecutive year, starting on Nov. 2, Zelda's will be hosting one of the most entertaining songwriter showcases around. Locals get to strut their stuff for two songs, with the winners from each night advancing on toward the finals, where they have a chance to win studio time and healthy gift certificates to local businesses. Call MARS Studios at 831.688.4849 for more information.

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From the October 20-27, 2004 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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For more information about Santa Cruz, visit santacruz.com.

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