Jennifer Colliau knows her way around a drink. She's also the definition of a maker, having exercised her knack for handicrafts first with cabinets then with small-batch syrups and now as a self-dubbed "craft cocktail nerd."
You can be the beneficiary of her crafty ways—and her hospitality—at the Bay Area's best new cocktail bar. Here's How is the name; here's how it came to be.
"I wanted to create a space that wasn't like anything else in the area—that just so happened to serve craft cocktails without all the fuss and lore," she said. "It's one thing to shake and stir a scrumptious, creative drink, but it's another animal to do so where you, the bar patron, are the first-and-foremost thought, not the bar program." The goal: a bar that would put the imbiber first, in an experiential venue that's "unforgettably convivial."
Named for W.C. Whitfield's 1941 industry bible on mixed drinks, Here's How, on Telegraph Avenue in Oakland's Uptown, delivers with an unpretentious vibe and supremely high quality drinks, never mind that some of them come in cans and none cost more than 12 bucks.
For those keen on seeing how the sausage gets made, Here's How, as the name suggests, is transparent. Just peek into the glassed-in prep area where all kinds of "cocktail nerdery" goes down, from hacking off toddler-sized ice slabs on an industrial meat cutter to "centrifuging shit" for custom canned concoctions. The drinks that have true grit despite their tongue-in-cheek names; some favorites: The Marina (basil-infused Wódka vodka, Nikolaihof elderflower syrup, cucumber juice, simple syrup, house lime acid and seltzer); and Do I Love It? Do I Lust It? (Novo Fogo Colibri cachaça, Chairman's Reserve spiced rum, Giffard banana liqueur, lime juice, cream of coconut, simple syrup). If you find one you love and vow to try and make it at home you can—you'll find the recipes on the spirits-forward menu online.
If you must order a locally brewed beer or glass of regionally sourced wine, you can do that too; but why would you? As the founder of the craft syrups company Small Hands Foods and former bar manager at the ever-inventive Interval at Long Now, Colliau is the real deal. We told you she knows her way around a drink.
But pedigree plays no part in the laid-back bar where spartan styling is warmed by low wood panels on the ceiling and ambient light. There are also "upscale bar-friendly bites" from chef Jordan Grosser of Stag Dining. Order up such snacks as finger-friendly salted potato chips with whipped ricotta, salmon roe, radish, and pungent fennel; red curry beef jerky; and popcorn shrimp popcorn. Hungrier? Peruvian-style ceviche, beef tartare, and a crispy chicken sando are solid main course options.
So let's recap. Ace drinks? Yep. Fancy-cocktail-place attitude? Nope. Good food? Uh huh. But how about the service?
"When I go to a bar, I go for the ambiance and atmosphere, and for the hospitality. That's what the type-A perfectionist in me wanted to evoke from the get-go," Calliau said. "I'm so proud of what we managed to do here."
// Here's How, 1780 Telegraph Ave. (Oakland); 4pm to midnight daily; heres-how.bar.