Boot and Shoe
The bar at Boot and Shoe Service in Grand Lake, Oakland. Photo: portmanteaus

A friend who had joined us for a Ms. Barstool adventure several months ago recommended the cocktails at Boot & Shoe Service on Grand Avenue in Oakland. We welcome such suggestions, and decided to see for ourselves what the bar had to offer. While we have been to known to order and appreciate the pizza and other dining options at Boot & Shoe, we had somehow missed the fact that there is a bar in the back. Such oversights must be remedied, and so one recent evening, we walked down the high-ceilinged brick-walled corridor on the left and made a beeline for the bar.

Like the weather in the East Bay these days, the cocktail menu at Boot & Shoe changes weekly. We like this idea, since we can anticipate new choices on subsequent visits. On the evening we visited, the featured cocktails were the Monk’s Garden (gin, lime, grapefruit, St. Germain, yellow chartreuse, and Peychaud’s bitters) and the Diablo Cocktail (tequila, ginger, lime and crème de cassis). We were tempted by the Deadly Sin (bourbon, carpano antica, maraschino liqueur and orange bitters) and braced ourselves for the possibility of a Gunpowder Punch (Navy strength rum, lime, cane syrup and Angostura bitters). 

Caption here
Boot & Shoe’s Long Summer has rye, lemon, cane syrup, Benedictine, spiced cordial and tonic. Photo: Risa Nye
Boot & Shoe’s Long Summer has rye, lemon, cane syrup, Benedictine, spiced cordial and tonic. Photo: Risa Nye

In the end, though the choice was a difficult one, we opted for a taste of the season to come: the Long Summer (rye, lemon, cane syrup, Benedictine, spiced cordial and tonic). As promised, the drink arrived sunny and light, with a refreshing blend of flavors and an effervescence that made us wish for those late summer days when the fog lifts by noon. Later on, we also sampled the Monk’s Garden, which brought back pleasant memories of gin and lime on warm autumn evenings, but with an added citrus kick from the grapefruit. We chose wisely.

Laura, the manager, stops by to chat and we learn about the Boot & Shoe family tree and its relation to another Bay Area favorite restaurant, Pizzaiolo at Telegraph and 51st. We also learn how the collaborative creative powers involved come up with some of their ideas for the bar program. We try to ask John a few probing questions about life behind the bar, but he politely suggests — between pouring, shaking and mixing cocktails for a thirsty crowd — that we should stick with talking to Laura, “since she’s better with words.”

As we enjoyed our cocktails, the bar area filled up quickly with a lively mixture of singles, couples, small groups, and families. According to Laura, this is a typical crowd: folks from the neighborhood and a diverse group of all ages who enjoy sharing a drink or a meal together.

We’ll be back — to see what’s new at Boot and Shoe.

The Drinks: Long Summer and Monk’s Garden
To Try Next Time: Surprise me!
The Crowd: Friends, neighbors, families, movie goers and pizza lovers
Behind the Bar: John “actions speak louder than words” Man of Action
When to Go: Before a movie at the Grand Lake, or anytime the siren call of pizza beckons
The Deets: 3308 Grand Avenue, Oakland

Risa Nye, aka Ms. Barstool, is a freelance writer based in Oakland. She writes the blog Zero to Sixty and Beyond.

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Freelancer Risa Nye is a Bay Area native. She was born in San Francisco and grew up in the East Bay. She spent many happy years on the UC Berkeley campus, both as a student and as an employee. She has...