When I first heard of The Bank in Saratoga, it was recommended to me by one Shawn Packer, a local guitarist of some renown. For some reason, I assumed the place was a recently converted financial institution, where bowtied bartenders would curl their over-waxed mustaches as the clientele studied drink menus filled with cocktails named after local attractions. I imagined ordering a “Big Basin,” brimming with single-barrel whiskey and served in an artisanally crafted, miniature horse trough.

I called upon the local oracle of all things alcohol: Mr. Harada. He knew the spot and told me my assumptions were wrong.

We pulled into the ample parking lot behind the brick building that is The Bank. The back entrance featured a small patio encircled by a reed screen. Inside the patio was a table, with seating for about five. A convenience for patrons who enjoy a smoke with their drinks, it was intimate enough to make the most reclusive of patrons join a hearty conversation.

The hallway from the back entrance was relatively bright, which is helpful if you need to find the patio or bathroom, while the main room’s lighting was much more subdued—it felt like heavy velvet.

The back wall of the main room showcased figurine-bottles in a case many shelves high. The Tombstone bunch were my favorite. Doc Holliday and Wyatt Earp welcome you first. To the casual observer, they’re just ceramic statues, but to astute drinkers, a tug on the hat’s brim reveals a cork stopper.

Our bartender, an extremely pleasant gal from Ben Lomond, was quick to share the bar’s history. Mr. Harada ordered a local brew from a Santa Cruz craft outfit, it was a Uncle Dave’s Rye IPA. The price was a bargain.

The Bank in Saratoga is worth regular visits. Sure, it has an exclusive address, but, the spirit is inclusive to all who make their way down Big Basin; roughly a $20 Uber ride from our downtown abodes.

As a bar, The Bank has been around since the early 1970s. That’s enough time to have its roots firmly planted into what was once a sleepy town nestled into the foothills. The fanciful brass chandelier, carved wood bar and wall art were obviously installed when Burt Reynolds was the sexiest man alive. It’s a place that captures America at one of its most perfect moments: Burt Time.

The Bank
14421 Big Basin Way
Saratoga. 408.867.5155