The 10 buzziest Bay Area bars

By Jackie Burrell, Sal Pizarro and Jessica Yadegaran for the Contra Costa Times

The vibe: Co-owners Stephen Shelton and Jimmy Marino have put together a dream of a cocktail program in the heart of Los Gatos, devising a menu that combines their original creations with re-creations of vintage cocktails and others made by top-shelf bartenders around the country.

The pair, who previously worked together at Los Gatos' Cin-Cin, have brought some of that rarefied atmosphere to the Lexington House. It's such a popular spot for the cocktail crowd (and the dinner crowd) that you could wind up waiting for a seat at the bar if you arrive at the wrong time. Good thing the hostess is happy to start you off with a drink while you wait.

The cocktail: While Lexington House is riding high on today's current "brown liquor" wave, there are some wonderfully refreshing and complex vodka and gin drinks that might be more appropriate for a summer evening. The Vernal Equinox ($12) includes Anchor Distillery's Hophead vodka, Carpano Bianco Vermouth, lime juice, simple syrup and soda water. But the key ingredient is a few dashes of the house-made rosemary blossom tincture, which completes the flavor profile.

Of course, nobody said whiskey wasn't refreshing in the summer, and the Lex does a nice job of lining up a whiskey flight, featuring three spirits for $20.