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Food & Drink

Cow Hollow gets the grown-up cocktail bar it’s always wanted

While its sister bar Bus Stop is all about beer and sports, upstairs, Left Door is ushering in opulence with glasses of Dom and caviar.

A room with patterned wallpaper, low tables, and comfortable chairs that sit on layered rugs.
Left Door, a new upscale cocktail bar on Union Street, offers a good reason to change out of your leggings for the night. | Source: Courtesy Erin Ng

In Swig City, our new weekly column, we’ll point you toward don’t-miss cocktails at some of the best bars, restaurants and clubs in the city. Cheers!

Until Left Door opened in November 2023, “Let’s get drinks in Cow Hollow” were not words that you’d hear coming out of my mouth. The Marina-adjacent neighborhood is mostly known for party bars like Westwood, where you can take a spin on a mechanical bull, and Palm House, which serves three different kinds of boozy slushies—the kind of places designed to cater to you and 100 of your best friends. 

With all due respect, lauded cocktail destinations these are not.  So, I was skeptical when I heard the people behind Bus Stop—the 123-year-old, beer-slinging, good-times sports bar on Union Street—were opening a swanky cocktail bar in the space above. Fortunately, my concerns were unfounded. Left Door turns out to be the grown-up cocktail bar that this corner of the city has been waiting for. 

A martini cocktail garnished with three olives on a wooden bar.
Left Door's dirty martini will please anyone who wants their cocktail to taste like an olive that’s been cast into the ocean. | Source: Courtesy Erin Ng

Venture up the L-shaped staircase, and you’d never know you’re above a room filled with young adults wearing Giants jerseys sipping Bud Light. The space is dark, quiet and decorated in the style of star designer Ken Fulk: floral patterned wallpaper in rich jewel tones, layers of Persian-looking rugs and low-slung tables around which couples huddle, cocktail coupes in hand. On a weekend, you’ll probably need a reservation. But on a weekday night, we had no problem walking in and nabbing a couple of seats at the bar. 

The cocktail menu sticks mostly to classics, with each given a little twist: think a mezcal negroni, a clarified pina colada and a deliciously vegetal gimlet spiked with wasabi and celery. For martini lovers, there’s a whole section dedicated to all its variations, from a vesper to a gibson. The dirty martini will please anyone like me who wants their cocktail to taste like the ocean. It’s wonderfully saline, made with Monterey seaweed-infused gin, olive juice and a Hog Island sea salt brine. 

But it’s the extra touches that make Left Door feel so wickedly luxurious. For example, you can add a pair of blue cheese-stuffed olives for $2 (ideally they’d be free, but I’ll take what I can get) or a side of housemade potato chips for $5. Or if you want to really ball out, try a glass of Dom Perignon ($80). There’s food too, including a four-ounce cut of A5 wagyu ($85) and full caviar service, which starts at $80—though you can indulge in a single bump for just $8.

When the day calls for cold beers and the game on TV, there’s no beating Bus Stop. But when you’re ready to graduate to icy martinis and a hushed room ideal for good conversation, venture upstairs. Left Door is ready to deliver. 

💰 Dirty martini ($20)
📍Left Door, 1905 Union St., Union Street

A luxuriously decorated room with a teal couch and two straw-yellow chairs around a low round table.
Left Door is unapologetically opulent, with Dom Perignon by the glass and caviar bumps. | Source: Courtesy Erin Ng