Just two months after debuting “izakaya cantina” Good Luck Gato, Oakland trio Daniel Paez, Matthew Meyer, and Kyle Itani are back with another one: Ninth Life is a cocktail-fueled nostalgia trip through the eighties, nineties, and early aughts, opening Wednesday, November 15. Located next door to sister bar Good Luck Gato on San Pablo Avenue, in the former Hopscotch Annex, Ninth Life is nothing like its spaghetti-Western-loving sibling. Instead, customers can expect a dark, moody space saturated in neon blues, purples, and pinks, and anchored by Paez’s menu of solid cocktails — and even more pop culture references.
Ninth Life is strictly a cocktail bar — hungry patrons can dip into Good Luck Gato for a bite — serving its own drink menu with throwback origins that allude to movies and music, plus Paez’s personal memories. Expect cocktails of the same caliber as the other bars the two have worked on, including Low Bar. Drinks will feature house-made shrubs and spirits, a press release shares, such as a carrot pineapple habanero shrub or a smoky tobacco tincture dubbed Swisher Sweet.
The Sparkle Motion cocktail references ’90s indie cult hit Donnie Darko and mixes gin with hibiscus liqueur and gentian amaro, added to sparkling rose. The Next Episode is a nod to the 2001 Dr. Dre song of the same name — as well as a childhood memory of a sticky-fingered Paez lifting the cassette from a store as a youth — but as a cocktail, it’s an appropriately dried rosemary-smoked mezcal drink, with spice-infused blanco, carrot shrub, and a hit of orange. Them Apples is Paez’s take on the much-maligned appletini, a cocktail popular with 2000s sitcom Scrubs character John Dorian and a tribute to Paez’s childhood friend. At Ninth Life, the drink is done up with apple-infused vodka mingled with Mexican aguardiente, fino sherry, green apple juice, amaro, and bitters.
Beyond the cocktail list, Ninth Life will also serve well drinks, beer and shot combos, wine, beer, and nonalcoholic options.
Ninth Life (1911 San Pablo Avenue) debuts Wednesday, November 15 and is open 5 to 10 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.