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A Different Kind of Bar

May 14, 2008

1974 Shattuck Avenue
(between Berkeley Way & University Ave)
Berkeley, CA 94704

We seem to be frequenting bars on Shattuck more often these days- here’s one more that I had never heard of. If you’re in the mood to sit back and enjoy a bevy of strange concoctions while looking at eccentric junk on the walls, this is the place for you. As it happens, I am just this kind of person.

While they do serve the full range of classic cocktails, beer, and wine, it is their specialty drinks that are worth the money and sometimes-too-slow service. With a tongue-in-cheek vintage-looking menu that looks like it was made by the marketing team of Trader Joe’s, your best bet is just to ask for the server’s recommendations. Try a Scorpion for one or two, a Pisco with a variety of different flavors, a Zombie, an Old Fashioned, or a Borneo Fogcutter (if you don’t mind paying $7 and never knowing what’s exactly in it, I highly recommend it for the mere presentation- everyone in the bar will be looking at you in humored awe).

I suggest going a bit early (that translates to about 9:30 pm for us) to make sure you get a table. The place is much bigger than it seems, but the large back room seems reserved for large parties or events. Grab one of the many styles of chairs (nothing matches- loves it!) and scope out the scene. The crowd is fairly mixed- both old and young, foreign and native Berkeley-ites. Not a good place to meet people, but a fairly good place for conversation and booze-tasting (a distant cousin of wine tasting). Check out the taxidermy deer-thing and the gladiator statue, the antique parasols and the giant Victorian stained glass sign reading ‘DRUGS’ above the door… take it all in and see why Spats is still referred to as a legit Berkeley Establishment.

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