Santa Barbara After Dark: Best Nightlife, Bars and Lounges

Santa Barbara After Dark: Best Nightlife, Bars and Lounges

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In Santa Barbara, it seems like there’s a place to get a drink around every corner. Beer, wine, fancy cocktails, even not-so-fancy cocktails, we like it all. Here's where to spend your drinking dollars.

9 Places
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    Go for dinner and stay for cocktails; this legendary Santa Barbara restaurant transforms into a lively bar as the night goes on. A State Street tradition since 1928, Joe's Cafe offers up the stiffest drinks in town. The martinis are even served with a little bit of backup, still in the shaker. 
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    Locals who have been here for a while will remember this as the site of Jimmy's Oriental Gardens (and home to delicious tiki drinks). After a brief hiatus, the owners of Three Pickles deli, right next door, reopened the bar as the Pickle Room. They revamped the interior and kept a lot of the classic favorites, including the Mai Tais!
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    Do you like your bars dark, your drinks strong and your bartenders somewhat surly? You do? Then the Sportsman is the perfect place for you. Built for comfort rather than speed, the Sportsman serves stiff drinks at down-to-earth prices to a local crowd not necessarily dressed to impress. It also holds the oldest liquor license in Santa Barbara!
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    Fire up your GPS and map your way to The Imperial - a swanky bar tucked away in a nondescript parking lot. Step through the rather ordinary front door to be transported to another time, a time when bars were clean, attractive and TV-free. There's a good selection of whiskeys here, as well as a specialty cocktail menu that includes such favorites as cucumber margaritas and marmalade sours.
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    A neighborhood hangout right in the heart of downtown, this lounge-style beer and wine bar consists of a few rooms and a back patio, all with ample seating. Beers on draft range from classic to local to Belgian specialties, and there's even more available by the bottle. There's also wine by the glass (the kind that won't give you a headache the next morning) and snacks, like chips and cups o' noodles.
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    True to its name, this bar serves up a variety of bourbon-based cocktails, as well as many others. There's also a food menu that highlights local, sustainable ingredients. And if that weren't enough, hot and tasty pizzas are cooked onsite, too. If you want to go back home with a story about "this amazing amazing drink you had in Santa Barbara" (and the inspiration to try to duplicate it), make a beeline for The Bourbon Room. 
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    The drink menu is sorted by alcohol type, serving up everything from classic martinis to tropical mojitos garnished with a stick of real sugarcane. Gorgeous bottles line the floating wood shelves of the bar, tempting you to try exotic liquors you've never heard of before. Night out with the girls? This is the place. Night out looking for girls? This is also the place; it's full of the pretty, smart ones with good taste in booze. 
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    Order a pint or sample a beer tasting. The draft list is ample and there are long tables to accommodate groups. Red and white wines from local vineyards are also available. If you're hungry, you can order a pizza from the Lucky Penny nearby, or there are a number of other restaurants within easy walking distance. In addition to a spacious indoor bar, there's a great patio that's pet friendly.
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    A hidden gem in an unassuming strip of storefronts, the Mercury is something of a haven - a dark velvet calm of a wine and beer bar complete with low couches, a single pool table, vintage glassware and a cozy rear patio. With dozens of beers to choose from and a wine list that leans local, it's a connoisseur's type of place - perfect for intimate conversations or dark solo musings. 
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