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The Metro Bars & Clubs 2004 Guide
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Rich in Liquor: The Bank serves up a wealth of entertainment: play darts, sing a song, watch a game, have a beer.


The Bank
14421 Big Basin Way, Saratoga
Saratoga's first bank is also its oldest bar, anchoring the downtown strip for more than 30 years. The booths in the back are converted from the old bank vault; nowadays, your money goes into an ancient cash register sitting behind the bar. The bar doesn't look like it has seen the light of day since it opened, and the collection of antique whisky decanters kind of freaks us out, but hey, it's the only bar in town that doesn't specialize in Martinis. Play darts, sing a song, watch a game, have a beer and revel in the fact that even Saratoga has a dive bar. (CL)

The Basin
14572 Big Basin Way, Saratoga
408.867.1906; www.thebasin.com
The Basin has everything you'd expect from a "neighborhood" bar in Saratoga: an extensive wine list, cheese, Martinis and American fare. According to the hostess, The Basin is open until "people start leaving." Regular patrons chat easily with the bartenders and hosts as they stop in for a late meal or quick drink. The dim lighting and contemporary décor provide an upscale feel without seeming too stuffy. Although the Basin passes pass the Lemon Drop off as its signature drink, the Martinis were better. (CL)

Big Basin Bistro
14480 Big Basin Way, Saratoga
408.867.1764; www.bigbasinbistro.com
Under the new ownership of Rob McCready, this corner bar serves seafood, oysters, Spanish tapas, wine, sangria and beer. The money for a hard-liquor license is going toward more important things—you can sample one of over 400 beers through hosted beer tastings throughout the week. Live music and bands play on the weekends. The restaurant area is a little bare; maybe the budget went into buying beer. Not a place to impress a date, the Big Basin Bistro is a casual place to unwind where the focus is on the drinks and food. (CL)

Crazy Horse Lounge and Bistro at The Plumed Horse
14555 Big Basin Way, Saratoga
408.867.4711; www.plumedhorse.com
In addition to a fully stocked wine cellar, where you can uncork a $3,000 bottle of wine under the nose of Greg the wine manager, the lounge at the Plumed Horse—like the rest of Saratoga—also specializes in Martinis. Its Mango Martini goes down a bit stiff but they do use real mango purée. It's also the only bar in town with a dance floor, albeit a tiny one. Live music and dancing happen on Friday and Saturday nights, with the crowd ranging from thirtysomething couples to grandma and grandpa out for a nice meal. Cozy up to the fireplace in their lounge seating or sit toward the back for a view of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Not as wild as its name, the Crazy Horse Lounge remains a solid nightlife option in Saratoga. (CL)

Viaggio Ristorante Mediterraneo
14550 Big Basin Way, Saratoga

Viaggio's bar makes up for its small size and quiet atmosphere with great drinks, friendly bartenders and food and dessert served at the bar. Summer concertgoers for any of the Saratoga venues should stop by—flashing your ticket stub will get you a free glass of house wine or a homemade dessert before or after the show. (CL)

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From the June 16-22, 2004 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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