If you find that you’re feeling fancy and have a hankering for a craft cocktail and some ornate appetizers, stop by the 515, conveniently named after its address on Cedar Street in downtown Santa Cruz. This place is definitely a community treasure and a local favorite. If you are visiting the area and are lucky enough to stumble upon the 515, you’re guaranteed to remember it. It isn’t a place that tourists will likely find themselves unless they’ve heard about it somewhere before, or have local connections. Although known around town mainly for their classy bar and lounge, it should also be known that they offer a more fine dining atmosphere downstairs.
What do we mean when we say “craft cocktail”? Perhaps you are in the mood for more than just a jack and coke or gin and tonic. Perhaps you’re a person that cares about what kind of gin you’re drinking and the freshness of the fruit and other ingredients that go into your glass. Maybe you want to try a Negroni with a modern twist, or some variation of a Manhattan or Sazarac. If you don’t know what these drinks are and you’d like to find out, ask one of the bartenders here, they are friendly and extremely knowledgeable when it comes to the liquor, beer, and wine they pour. If something sweet is what you want, try Le Pamplemousse, a drink served up with Finlandia Grapefruit Vodka, Aperol, lemon juice, orange juice, and grapefruit juice. If you are more sour than sweet, try the New York Sour, made with Bulliet Rye Bourbon, lemon juice, cane sugar, and Cabernet Franc. Also ask about The Cocktail of The Moment, which is their featured drink that changes every night. Here it is also completely invited to ask the bartender to surprise you with whatever concoction he or she might be experimenting with, they love that. Eight draft beers are available and change from time to time. Many of them you aren’t going to see on just any tap such as Old Rasputin, a Russian Imperial Stout from the North coast Brewing Co. in Fort Bragg. There is no draft Coors Light here friends.
The décor in the upstairs bar is reminiscent of a 1920’s lounge. It consists of a small bar counter at the far end, and a few dining tables, but mostly couches comfortably arranged around coffee tables. There is a small private room that can be rented out for intimate special events and an outside patio overlooking downtown complete with a fire pit and lights strung overhead. Downstairs provides the full white linen treatment with the nice touch of a silent film playing in the background. Also make sure you stop by for Saturday and Sunday brunch sometime to enjoy a quality Bloody Mary (they serve several different recipies), and a specialty benedict or Prosciutto Hash. Reservations are encouraged for upstairs or down, because often times more people have the desire to eat there than space provided.