The Best Santa Barbara Bars for Every Type of Barfly

Santa Barbara must be a notoriously thirsty town because it seems like there’s a place to get a drink around every corner. Beer, wine, fancy cocktails, even not-so-fancy cocktails, we like it all. So where should you spend your drinking dollars? Choose a place (or two) on this list for a guaranteed good time.

For a low-key brew, pop into any one of Santa Barbara’s cozy pubs or dive bars. The Press Room and Figueroa Mountain Brewing both have great beers on tap and a friendly, not fussy, atmosphere. Or try Elsie’s, an intimate beer and wine bar that draws an artsy crowd.

If all these palm trees and red tile roofs put you in the mood for something a little more chic, sidle up to the bar at the Bourbon Room for a fresh take on classic cocktails featuring seasonal, local ingredients. Or find a seat at Milk & Honey. It’s dark and romantic with one of the longest drink lists in town, perfect for impressing a date.

We know you’re ready to quench your thirst but, before you jet out on the town, here’s a little-known fact you can use to start some small talk: one of the reasons that Santa Barbara has so many bars – and so few dance clubs – is that dancing is allowed by permit only. So be careful what you play on the jukebox; we don’t want your dancing feet to get you in trouble with Johnny law!

Mercury Lounge
Photo courtesy of Mercury Lounge


Sometimes you want to get away from it all... all the downtown noise, crowds and traffic. For times like these, head to Goleta and pay a visit to the Mercury Lounge. A hidden gem in an unassuming strip of storefronts, the Mercury is something of...  Read More



Visit this Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. location in Santa Barbara's Funk Zone to try locally brewed, award-winning beers. Order a pint or sample a beer tasting. The draft list is ample and there are long tables to accommodate groups. Red and...  Read More



The Press Room is a small English style pub on one of downtown Santa Barbara's side streets, just half a block away from the Paseo Nuevo Mall. The Press Room is a good place to sneak off and have a pint when you prefer to avoid the retail crowd....  Read More

Santa Barbara
Milk & Honey
Photo courtesy of Geneva Ives


Milk & Honey is a tapas restaurant and cocktail bar in downtown Santa Barbara. It is dark and romantic. Black and white silent movies project above the bar. A fireplace burns next to the small patio. The food menu consists of cheese,...  Read More



An excellent cocktail bar located where Goleta and Santa Barbara meet, The Bourbon Room is your destination when you want something a little different, a night with a drink or two to remember. True to its name, this bar serves up a variety of...  Read More

Elsie's Tavern
Photo courtesy of Jesse Keenan


If you're in the mood for a relaxing night spent conversing with a few close friends - or making new ones - Elsie's Tavern is the place to go. A neighborhood hangout right in the heart of downtown, this lounge-style beer and wine bar consists of...  Read More



Looking for somewhere to whet your whistle in Goleta? Fire up your GPS and map your way to The Imperial - a swanky bar tucked away in a nondescript parking lot. Step through the rather ordinary front door to be transported to another time, a...  Read More

The Sportsman Lounge
Photo courtesy of Aron Ives


Do you like your bars dark, your drinks strong and your bartenders somewhat surly? You do? Then the Sportsman is the perfect place for you. Built for comfort rather than speed, the Sportsman serves stiff drinks at down-to-earth prices to a local...  Read More



Get a great drink in one of Santa Barbara's most historic buildings! Located in downtown Santa Barbara, Lovejoy's Pickle Room occupies the remaining visual landmark of Santa Barbara's China town. Locals who have been here for a while will...  Read More

Santa Barbara
Joe's Cafe
Photo courtesy of Geneva Ives


Go for dinner and stay for cocktails; this legendary Santa Barbara restaurant transforms into a lively bar as the night goes on. A State Street tradition since 1928, Joe's Cafe offers up the stiffest drinks in town. The martinis are even served...  Read More


Meet Geneva Ives

Geneva Ives moved to Santa Barbara in 2000 on a whim (ok, and to go to college) and never looked back. She loves Santa Barbara because it’s really one of America’s greatest small towns - it...  More About Geneva