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The Metro Bars & Clubs 2005 Guide
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The Bank
14421 Big Basin Way, Saratoga
Saratoga's first bank is also its oldest bar, anchoring the downtown strip for more than 30 years. The booths in the back are converted from the old bank vault; nowadays, your money goes into an ancient cash register sitting behind the bar. The bar doesn't look like it has seen the light of day since it opened, and the collection of antique whisky decanters kind of freaks us out. Play darts, sing a song, watch a game, have a beer and revel in the fact that even Saratoga has a dive bar.

The Basin
14572 Big Basin Way, Saratoga
The Basin has everything you'd expect from a "neighborhood" bar in Saratoga: an extensive wine list, cheese, martinis and American fare. According to the hostess, the Basin is open until "people start leaving." Regular patrons chat easily with the bartenders and hosts as they stop in for a late meal or quick drink. The dim lighting and contemporary décor provide an upscale feel without seeming too stuffy.

Blue Rock Shoot
14523 Big Basin Way, Saratoga
Its woodsy décor and outdoor patios offer a casual, low-key alternative for an evening out. Come here to catch up with an old friend or to check out the various evening acts ranging from standup comedy to live local music. Sit out front to people watch or head to the staggered, outdoor patio in the back for more secluded seating. The Blue Rock is experiencing renewed vigor, and with the help of Firesign Entertainment, and attracting some top folk/bluegrass/jazz talent. Due to the intimate size of the Blue Rock, crowds have been small but passionate.

Crazy Horse Lounge and Bistro at The Plumed Horse
14555 Big Basin Way, Saratoga
It's also the only bar in town with a dance floor, albeit a tiny one. Live music and dancing happen on Friday and Saturday nights, with the crowd ranging from thirtysomething couples to grandma and grandpa out for a nice meal. Cozy up to the fireplace in their lounge seating or sit toward the back for a view of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Not as wild as its name, the Crazy Horse Lounge remains a solid nightlife option in Saratoga. Montalvo ticket holders can dine at Plumed Horse and take the Village Shuttle to and from the show.

Viaggio Ristorante Mediterraneo
14550 Big Basin Way, Saratoga
Viaggio's bar makes up for its small size and quiet atmosphere with great drinks, friendly bartenders and food and dessert served at the bar. Summer concertgoers for any of the Saratoga venues should stop by—they are one of the free shuttle stops.

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From the June 22-28, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

Copyright © 2005 Metro Publishing Inc. Metroactive is affiliated with the Boulevards Network.

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