Recently, one of our favorites spots to visit while in the bay area is Flora Restaurant and Bar near downtown Oakland. Its art deco interior matches its hip bartenders with suspenders and mustaches as well as its range of delicious old timey drinks.
We’ve never had actual food at Flora before since the few times we’ve gone there, it was after the kitchen had stopped serving real food. We did order a dish of warm olives and house-made potato chips, which were pretty damn good. The potato chips were crispy, came with a cold sour cream and onion dip, and tasted like really good gourmet chips from a bag. They probably would have been better if they were fresh out of the fryer.
The mixed olive dish at Flora beat out Thomas Hill Organics as the best olives I’ve ever had because they were just as good and only a fraction of the price. Flora is the first place where I finally felt satisfied with the amount of olives we got for the price. These were some seriously good olives. Even if the drinks weren’t as good, I’d go just for the olives.
Since I’ve been on my whiskey cocktail kick these past few months, I ordered an Old Fashioned with Michter’s. And these bar tenders are serious about their Old Fashioned drinks. I’m never wild about overly-sweet drinks, so the Old Fashioned with only a touch of sweetness is perfect for me. And boy was it strong.
The BF ordered the Vieux Carré, named after the French Quarter. It’s more complex than an Old Fashioned and comes with sweet vermouth and cognac, as well as whiskey. Although the bartender admitted he messed up on it, it was still quite tasty.
My second drink of the night was a Mamie Taylor which is made with scotch, lemon, ginger syrup, and soda. The bartenders at Flora don’t fool around when it comes to ginger syrup. It packs a spicy punch — the opposite of watery ginger ale from the Southwest Airline drink carts. This drink was sweeter than my previous one, but was kept from being too cloying by the lemon and soda. I didn’t actually taste the scotch, but the drink did leave my mouth with a smokey, lingering feeling.
The best part of the drink was the house-made cherries. I was so excited about the cherries that I actually dropped my garnish stick on the floor, which made me sad. Luckily, when I explained my silliness to the bartender, he graciously gave me another stick with not one, but two cherries. And yes, they were fantastic. Especially the one that fell into my drink and soaked up all the liqueur till I got to it.
The BF ordered a virgin drink next which was just lemon, ginger syrup, and soda water. This came with candied ginger as a garnish. He was craving the same drink from Varnish Room’s which we had a few weeks ago but this one seemed to satiate his craving even though it wasn’t quite as gingery.
Flora is an ideal place to go for after-dinner drinks if you’re with people who can appreciate classic cocktails. Their cocktails may cost a few dollars more than other places, but they do know how to make good, strong drinks, which is worth it. I’m also impressed with any place that puts as much effort into their virgin drinks as into their booze drinks.