Oakland’s Friends and Family among North America’s best bars

Friends and Family, a cocktail bar 468 25th St. in Oakland, was named the one of the 50 best bars in North America on Tuesday night at the 50 Best Bars North America ceremony hosted in New York City.

Owner Blake Sondel Cole posted a picture on Instagram clutching hands with her mom (who bakes their famous carrot cake) and the caption “# 33 baby,” a reference to their No. 33 ranking on the 50 Best Bars North America list.

The replies were filled with other Bay Area restaurants and bars such as Daytrip, Lovely’s, Boichik Bagels, Viridian, NOPA and Yo Tambien Cantina congratulating them, a testament to how tight-knit the restaurant and bar community is in the Bay Area.

The bar opened in April 2020 and is proudly a queer and woman-owned business. It perhaps first gained popularity for the abundance of bathroom selfies that patrons would take under the dim glow of purple light, wearing fire outfits either solo or living up to the bar’s name – with friends and family. The trend quickly took off with bargoers snapping selfies in bathroom mirrors, and in late 2021, Eater San Francisco even created the “Bay Area Toilet Awards,” a list of the most decorative, fun bathrooms at local hospitality venues.

But Friends and Family is, crucially, a top-notch cocktail bar, too.

A selection of cocktails at Friends and Family in Oakland.

Andrea Y./Yelp

The drinks menu includes creative cocktails such as the Between the Lines, which fuses the Swedish aquavit Ahus Akvavit with Bimini gin and pineapple-sage syrup, lemon and absinthe, and the For Rei, a coconut-heavy whiskey cocktail with a coconut water “popsicle . “

Perhaps most importantly, the bar also has a penchant for social justice, such as their “daily affirmations” monthly shot special, where 100% of the proceeds go to gender-affirming surgery fundraising efforts, and linking to social justice websites such as Fight for Breonna Taylor, the Black LGBTQIA + Migrant Project, the Audre Lorde Project, the Okra Project and People’s Breakfast Oakland.

Oakland was not only the Bay Area city to have a top 50 bar. San Francisco’s ABV, at 3174 16th St., was also named in the top 50, clocking in at No. 38.

Friends and Family is at 468 25th St., Oakland. It is generally open Tuesday through Saturday from 4 pm to 11 pm and from 2 pm to 9 pm on Sundays. It is closed on Mondays.

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