CDP, the recently opened bar and lounge adjoining James Syhabout’s two-Michelin-starred Oakland restaurant Commis, has a distinctive vibe reminiscent of a bygone era, namely the late 1950s. The night we visited, we were struck immediately by the upscale/retro/jazzy feel of the place — with touches providing a wink and a nod to 1957: the year Miles Davis produced “Birth of the Cool,” and the Soviet Union launched the game-changing satellites Sputniks 1 and 2 into orbit.
As we entered the bar, we noticed the striking Jonathan Adler “Sputnik” light fixtures, with their many arms aglow. The soft lighting gave the plain white walls an almost pearl-gray cast, which coordinated nicely with the deep-plum tufted banquettes and love seats. There is seating for 10 at the long white marble bar, with an additional 14 seats in the rear lounge area, arranged around small candle-lit tables. If guests for dinner at Commis arrive early, they can enjoy a drink at the bar and then easily drift into the restaurant. A narrow horizontal cut-out offers discreet peeks from one setting to the other.
C.D.P. (as in chef de partie, a line chef) officially opened on Oct. 18, one night before we visited, and we expect that on subsequent visits we won’t be able to snag a seat at the bar quite so easily. But on a first visit, we appreciated the stylish atmosphere, the cool jazz playing in the background and the chance to chat a bit with Chris, our bartender.
Even though CDP is a new kid on the Piedmont block, Chris was already able to tell us about the drinks that are hits with the crowd so far: The Kina Sour, made with St. George Terroir Gin, Maurin Quina (a cherry-based aperitif), cherry, lemon and egg ($15), and the Japanese Julip made with Suntory Toki whisky, yuzu (sour and tart citrus), and shiso, a spicy and sweet member of the mint family ($17). Other cocktail options are the French Connection, made with Arkansas Black Applejack, Amaretto, orgeat and orange ($15), and the familiar Old Pal, made with Templeton Rye Whiskey, Dolin Blanc Vermouth, Aperol and orange ($14). There is also a Dealer’s Choice on the menu for those who prefer to defer to the discretion of the bartender ($15).
We decided to go for the cute name this time, and chose to try the Koki-Cola: Zaya Gran Reserva 12-year rum, Gosling’s dark rum, Makrut lime and coconut soda ($10). The drink is served over crushed ice and garnished with a single green leaf. Its deep amber color and traditional island flavors transported us for a few pleasant moments, away from the oncoming rain and crisp early autumn air.
Although the bar menu features a full page of cocktail options, one might gather that the focus at CDP is really Champagne and sparkling wines, available by the glass or the bottle: the listed options are extensive. The bar bites menu offers a variety of small plates, from olives ($8) to oysters ($22), in addition to caviar service.
CDP is a sleek and stylish throwback to a sophisticated notion of what a cocktail lounge should be. It fills a niche as an elegant but inviting neighborhood cocktail bar — one that complements the well-known restaurant next door.
The crowd: Pre- and post-dinner guests at Commis, Champagne aficionados, locals seeking a special place for a nightcap or cocktail
The vibe: Both warm and cool, sleek and chic
The drink: Koki-Cola
The one to try next time: The Old Pal or Kina Sour
Good to know: Open Wednesday through Saturday from 5 p.m. until close and Sunday from 4:30 p.m. until close.