Bragging rights among friends can be hard to come by, but there’s nothing quite as satisfying as hitting a hole-in-one with everyone there to witness. So while the mini golf course is an obvious draw for heading over to the newest location of Tipsy Putt on Bay Street in Emeryville, the less obvious attraction is the Trophy Room, the moodier, not-so-secret speakeasy located inside.
Tipsy Putt is currently on an expansion tear through the Bay Area, with two other locations in Sacramento and South Lake Tahoe, and new locations to come to Monterey and Sunnyvale. The Bay Street location isn’t a sprawling indoor course — it’s a compact nine holes with a Bay Bridge model as its centerpiece — but there are plenty of other diversions including TVs, board games, and oversized Connect Four. Also in the works is a weekly trivia night and drag bingo.
The bar stretches the length of the back wall with 40 drinks on tap including an outsized number of local breweries such as Calicraft, Original Pattern, Faction, Dokkaebier, Ghost Town, and more. It’s not a full bar, but there are a handful of whimsically named mixed drinks available on tap, such as the Putter’s Paloma and I’ll Beat Steph Curry at Mini Golf, a rum and Coke with lime and “delusions of grandeur.” For food, expect casual Mexican fare fitting for a place with lots of activity — nachos are front and center on the shareable list, chips piled high with queso, black beans, jalapenos, sour cream, and guac, with an option to add chicken, carnitas, barbacoa, and potato soyrizo. Four styles of tacos with the aforementioned protein options, two sizes of burritos, mini quesabirria quesadillas, salads, and burrito bowls all vie for your attention at the ordering kiosk near the takeout window.
But what you probably want to know more about is that hidden bar. Emeryville is just the second location of the Trophy Club, the bar-within-a-bar that does away with the putters and board games to channel that IYKYK backroom bar vibe. To be clear, Trophy Club is open to the public, but with its limited capacity, the folks behind Tipsy Putt devised some ways to stem the flow of incoming guests. First, one can go the membership route: Pay a one-time $250 fee that guarantees priority access to and reservations for the bar, as well as membership benefits at Tipsy Putt locations, such as unlimited mini golf. If that sounds too rich for your blood, there’s also the password route, where guests catch the entry phrase on the bar’s social media page each day to get on the waitlist.
Step past the Trophy Room entrance — we won’t ruin where it’s located, but one can easily figure it out — and inside you’ll be greeted by a dimly lit room, dark interiors, and wallpaper with gold brocade crawling across the background. At the center of the room is a circular stage with a white grand piano shell where the entertainment will set up, such as DJs or burlesque dancers. Plush booths line the bottom of the stage and along the walls.
The Trophy Room is where the full-service bar is located, with cocktails made — not just poured — by bartenders. The cocktails come in just under the $20 mark and feature house-made ingredients such as a banana syrup that’s deployed inside the Peruvian Vacation, a pisco-based drink with mango, habanero tincture, and red wine. The Thaiball, meanwhile, employs a snap pea-infused tequila with lemon, orgeat, basil, coconut milk, and Thai-spiced bitters. Meanwhile, if you’re interested in going harder (or, more expensive), the Masters Menu will take you there with top-shelf cocktails ranging from a lower-end Big Daq Energy ($59) incorporating El Dorado 21-year rum, lime juice, and simple syrup to the Ariostocrat’s Sazerac ($315) made with Louis XIII cognac, WhistlePig Boss Hog rye whiskey, bitters, absinthe, and sugar. A food menu is still in the works, but expect cheese and charcuterie boards to start, with plans to expand to a number of small plates and tapas.
Tipsy Putt (5690 Bay Street, Emeryville) debuts Wednesday, February 1 and is open 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday. The space becomes 21+ after 5 p.m. The Trophy Club debuts Wednesday, February 8.