Drexl owners Demetrius Chapin-Rienzo, Adi Taylor and Nathan Johnson have expanded their empire to include two of Oakland’s newest watering holes, both of which opened this fall: The Miranda, a cocktail haven that takes its cues from the hotel bars of yesteryear and Fort Green, a renovated sports bar that features half a dozen screens and the best bar food this side of the Bay, thanks to Bar Tartine vets Cortney Burns and Nic Balla.
Located on a small stretch of Broadway between 17th and 19th streets, the entrance to The Miranda is so inconspicuous you might walk straight by it, as I did on my first visit. The front room, which features a lavish floral wall hanging, full-service bar and minimal seating, is simultaneously swanky and sparse, the sort of place you might stop by for a quick cocktail, but hardly a spot to hole up. Meant to mimic the front lobby of a hotel, the stay-a-minute ambience may be a part of the bar’s attempt to provide a hotel bar, minus the hotel.
With interiors that were designed by Oakland’s Arcsine, The Miranda appeals to a crowd that gets hopped up on nostalgia, and it seems to offer an age-old promise of a chance encounter — not one orchestrated through a dating app or instant message. A full wall of mailbox slots, complete with mail keys and letters, divides the space into two sections, providing the backdrop for both the front and back bar. One can peek through each slot for a view of that back bar, where hooded chairs, high top tables, and an assortment of lounge furnishings provide space to hold an actual conversation.
The Miranda’s cocktail menu is comprised of around 10 original concoctions that tend toward the drier, more acidic end of the spectrum and feature seasonal ingredients like sweet potato liqueur. Drinks like the Après Ski (rye, cacoa, St. George Spirit’s NOLA coffee liqueur, Scrappy’s Firewater bitters, coffee, egg) and the Jetsetter (gin, sweet potato liqueur, China China liqueur, Cynar) sport thematic names and give a nod to the notion of travel. The menu also features a small selection of wines and beers, both by the bottle and on tap. There’s no food for the time being, though Chapin-Rienzo says they may add charcuterie platters and flatbreads, brought over from the kitchen at Fort Green, which is in Old Oakland, less than a mile from The Miranda.
Fort Green is an upscale neighborhood sports bar where the atmosphere is relaxed and the food isn’t fussy, though it is damn good. The corner space is open for lunch and dinner with a menu developed by Burns and Balla that features half a dozen bar snacks like crispy potatoes with housemade Liptauer cheese sauce and signature sweet and spicy chicken wings. More substantial dishes include black bean chili con carne and smoked potato flatbread wraps.
Black ceilings, light-rimmed windows and exposed original brick and tile give the eatery an air of elegance, despite retaining its primary purpose as a venue for watching sports. Games play all day, but volume only goes on during major local events, allowing the space to double as a neighborhood bar fit for anyone. The drinks menu features a dozen mostly local draft beers, a small selection of wines, and a half a dozen cocktails, including Luau at the Fort (a spiced rum tiki drink) and The Middle Harbor (a pear brandy martini).
In concert with Drexl, a worn-in uptown bar that serves specialty drinks alongside games of ski ball, The Miranda and Fort Green round out the booze-based empire with a nostalgic cocktail den and a slightly more upscale neighborhood bar with top notch food.
Fort Green is at 736 Washington St. (at Eighth Street), Oakland.