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A single cocktail sits on a granite bar with the liquor bottles and bar area blurred in this portrait style image at East Bay Spice Co in Berkeley

Berkeley is a storied city that is home to one of the most famous branches of the University of California‘s collegiate campuses:  Cal Berkeley.  As a college town, Berkeley is also home to more than its fair share of bars, taverns, breweries and pubs… including several that are, in our experience, absolutely fantastic cocktail bars.  If you’re looking for an easy, walkable bar crawl in the East Bay, Berkeley is a must-stop location to consider!

A sign advertising downtown Berkeley bar food drinks and other activities

Berkeley Bar Crawl:  Four Excellent Cocktail Bars within Walking Distance

In our experience, a great bar crawl requires just a few key ingredients.  Excellently crafted cocktails is the most obvious and most important, but shouldn’t overshadow other factors for your consideration.  It should be noted that while we certainly are big fans of beer, wine, and casual brewpubs… our favorite bar crawls are mostly centered around craft cocktails.  The bar crawl should be easily walkable, with numerous options to choose from within a casual 5-10 minute stroll.  The bars should be eye-catching in appearance, with unique décor that make them immediately inviting upon entry.  While we love places that offer delicious food and small bites, it’s not necessary for each location to provide something to eat.  Lastly, at least one or two of the spots should have live music, especially on the weekend!

Map courtesy of Wanderlog, the best trip planner app on iOS and Android

Bar Hopping in Berkeley – Eureka!

The first stop on our cocktail bar crawl was Eureka! on Center Street by the City College (just off Shattuck Ave).  Technically a regional restaurant chain, Eureka! has a full bar featuring a crafted seasonal cocktail menu, delicious bar food and hearty burgers (among other fare).  The Berkeley location is very aesthetically pleasing, doing a fantastic job of blending indoor and outdoor seating spaces seamlessly.  With the massive glass cabinets full of bottles of whiskey, the design creates a welcoming atmosphere of warmth and openness that invites you to sit down stay a while.

Eureka! Berkeley
Main Seating Area
Bar Seating Area
Delicious Cocktails
Delicious Bar Food

Because we were intending to hop from place to place, we opted to sit in the bar area instead of waiting for a table.  The area has a spacious layout, with plenty of seating for you to belly up at the bar or to sit at the equally comfortable counter on the other side of the space.  We found the bartenders to be incredibly friendly and professional, managing bar service and making drinks for other tables with apparently effortless ease.  And, most importantly, our drinks were well made… if perhaps a smidge lighter on the alcohol than we would’ve preferred.  That being said, the bar staff were happy to provide us with an extra splash here and there when we asked!

Next Stop – East Bay Spice Co

As has become our new custom, we asked our bartender to recommend the next stop on our bar crawl, and they came through in spades!  By recommending both East Bay Spice Company and their sister spot Tip-Sea, they doubled down on providing awesome cocktail bars for us to check out… and check them both out we most assuredly did!  It was off to East Bay Spice Company first, an easy five minute walk towards campus from Eureka!.

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East Bay Spice Company really raised the bar for our pub crawl, to say the least!  The cozy and intimate space is eye-catchingly stylish without being overly pretentious, causing us both to order second and third rounds to give us more time to soak in all of the décor.  The Indian cuisine inspired menu features several tasty flatbreads, perfect for smaller bites to line our bellies in preparation for the booze we consumed.

The bar menu features several unique and well-crafted cocktails, all of which were immaculately prepared and divine to drink!  With a rotating menu and a number of options to choose from, this is a spot worth stopping back in from time to time to see what’s new.  Though the service was the least engaging of the four spots we visited, our bartender was professional, efficient, and thoughtful – and of course, it gave us the privacy and opportunity to enjoy a more romantic atmosphere.

A New Craft Cocktail Experience in Berkeley – Tip-Sea Bar

From East Bay Spice Co, we walked another five or so minutes down to their sister spot on Shattuck Ave.  Tip-Sea Bar is a new spot, still in a “soft opening” of sorts when we stopped in (Sept 2022).  The narrow bar has no notable markings on the brick exterior, and the interior, with its modern décor, soft lighting and dark wood throughout lent the place a speakeasy feel.  This sensation was deepened by the old school cocktails found on the menu, featuring several strong whiskey and gin based drinks that were absolutely fantastic.  Our bartender was incredibly friendly and creative, taking advantage of the opportunity I gave them to mix up one of my drinks based on their own favorite whiskey cocktail recipe.  Needless to say, the drink was fantastic, as was their recommendation for our final stop of the evening:  Tupper & Reed.


Last Stop on our Bar Crawl – Tupper & Reed

Located just one block down from Tip-Sea on Shattuck Ave, Tupper & Reed was an absolutely fantastic way to cap off our bar crawl!  The tall brick building’s exterior evokes incredible British Pub vibes, with its cozy outdoor seating space, beautiful recessed entry and heavy black wooden door and black wooden window frames.  The design lends the place an almost Harry Potter-esque sensation, which is further reinforced upon walking inside and reveling in the dark wood interior, classic brass bar rail, cozy leather booths, a towering wood staircase to additional seating space upstairs… and they even have a beautiful retro record player sitting at the far end of the bar!

As with the other bars we visited, Tupper & Reed absolutely hit a homerun with their handcrafted cocktails.  As one of the oldest bars in Berkeley, originally built in 1925, they pay homage to their roots in everything they do.   In addition, the bar also gears the late night experience to the younger, college-age crowd, bringing in a DJ to play techno and trance music after 10PM.  With live music or DJ’s most nights, Tupper & Reed is definitely worth inclusion on any Berkeley Bar Crawl list.


A craft cocktail sits on the bar next to the menu and a single votive candle at Tupper & Reed in Berkeley

Like Tip-Sea, Tupper & Reed does not have a food menu.  No problem!  By that point in our Friday evening, we had eaten our fill and were strictly on the hunt for more libations!  As I mentioned, Tupper & Reed smashed it in that area, mixing up several delicious cocktails for us while providing just the right mix of friendly banter with the bar staff.  With its stunning decor, a spacious interior, a full-sized pool table in the back and flawless drinks, Tupper & Reed was the perfect place to finish our night and make our way home.

Though we hit four of the best cocktail bars in Berkeley, there are quite a few more left to explore!  If you have any recommendations that we didn’t review, please leave us a comment below!  Thank you for reading, and enjoy your night out on the town in the East Bay!