Slow Booze, Craft Cocktails: Nightlife in San Jose

What better way to experience the Bay Area bar scene than in the capitol of Silicon Valley—San Jose—a city historically fond of its drinks. E.R. Bohm, the Prohibition administrator for Northern California, complained that “there have been more stills in operation in Santa Clara County than in any other county in the state.” Today, San Jose serves up quality cocktails to students, professionals and slackers alike. Despite ups and downs of business, there’s always booze, and San Jose offers a variety of spirited watering holes. Influenced by the craft cocktail “slow booze” movement of the last decade, these bars offer excellent locations to mix, mingle, and quench your thirst!

By Nikhil Misra



Whether you’re looking to get a little rowdy with locals or kick back with friends, check out the immensely popular Paper Plane. Offering carefully crafted cocktails as well as delicious tapas-style food options, this cocktail bar sets the stage for a great night on the town. As the bar says itself, “there are no strangers at Paper Plane; just friends who haven’t met yet.”

Paper Plane


This casual yet festive venue is a local favorite, and unsurprisingly so because it has everything; great drinks, food, entertainment, and a relaxing atmosphere. Grab some dinner, drinks, and kick back to enjoy some live jazz, folk, rock and more. Make sure to check their website in advance to plan around upcoming events.


If you like scenic sipping spots, look no further than Cielo. This wine bar boasts a rooftop terrace with dazzling views of the Santa Cruz Mountains, and offers unique house cocktails as well. Enjoy outdoor seating, cozy fireplaces, friendly bartenders, and a vibrant setting ideal for meeting friends or hanging out in the evening. Cielo is only open seasonally, but Utrip has you covered; we make sure to plan your visit when they’re open.


Fahrenheit via Facebook

For one of the best happy hours in San Jose, head to Fahrenheit Lounge in the center of downtown. Sporting a sleek interior with glowing red walls, inviting couches, greenery, candlelight and over 4000 square feet of space, this lounge is definitely a place to be for drinking, dining and dancing. Enjoy colorful and seasonal cocktails with shows by rotating guest DJ’s.

Photo Fahrenheit via Facebook


Fresh, flavorful cocktails and a sophisticated vibe can be savored at 55 South. Drinks are provided at more modest prices compared to other cocktail bars downtown, making it both an excellent place to pregame and postgame events or even just to lounge. Come loosen up here for an evening and make sure to order their famous “Moscow Mule”!

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