The 11 Best Places For Cocktails In Tulsa
BY MATT CARNEY, ANGELA EVANS & ROOT STAFF
About This List
The days of “liquor by the wink” —when restaurants and clubs sought all kinds of loopholes to state law forbidding the sale of alcohol in their establishments— are long over in Tulsa. Now a young generation of local restaurateurs, club owners, bartenders and mixologists are free to experiment, innovate and develop cocktails for every occasion and palate.
These are spirited (if you’ll excuse the pun) times for liquor in Tulsa. Don’t let a season pass without trying out something new and inventive on Valkyrie’s rotating cocktail menu. Enjoy a delicious food-and-booze pairing at MixCo. Mingle live jazz with fresh flavors at Duet. Or take a group to share a punch bowl at Saturn Room, for an evening of kitschy tiki brilliance.
What the bars, restaurants and clubs in this Guide have in common is a dedication to fine ingredients, carefully sculpted ambiance, exquisite presentation and rich flavor. This is Tulsa’s top shelf. Now pour up, and enjoy! —Matt Carney
Please note that some of the establishments in this guide may have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic. Social distancing is recommended and wherever you go, please take a mask.
13 E. Reconciliation Way, Tulsa, OK 74103
A destination cocktail bar staffed by friendly liquor geniuses, Valkyrie opened in the Tulsa Arts District in 2011, where it’s been serving precisely measured drinks ever since.
Gorgeous wood paneling, comfy leather couches and a towering wall of liquor—from the popular to the obscure—make this cocktail den at once inviting and intimidating. Fear not. Valkyrie’s staff are equal parts affable and inventive, and love nothing more than to walk you through their ever-changing menu, ingredient by ingredient.
And the variety! Valkyrie staff prides itself on its homemade cocktails, which range from bright and fizzy to rich and dark, hitting all the notes in between. With their rotating seasonal menu resting comfortably atop a large base of classics, you could visit a hundred times without tasting the same flavor profile twice. Conveniently, Valkyrie also organizes their cocktail menu by tasting notes, making it accessible for those of us whose liquor IQ doesn’t approach brilliance. —Matt Carney
209 N. Boulder Ave., Tulsa, OK 74103
Saturn Room is a collision of the serious and the trivial. Sophisticated, nuanced cocktails garnished with florid, unwieldy arrangements of fruit and mini umbrellas are crafted by talented professionals who happen to be wearing Hawaiian shirts in a room made to feel like a hut on the beach of some exotic island.
The menu is a combination of new creations and Tiki classics. The popular Mai Tai is an elegant multi-sensory experience. A blend of Rhum Clement V.S.O.P., Myers’s Dark Rum and lime juice form the base, and it’s fleshed out with orgeat (an almond syrup), dry curacao (a traditional French triple sec) and simple syrup. Besides looking pretty, the mint and lime garnishes’ pronounced aromas contribute to the composition of each sip.
Saturn Room’s juices are fresh-squeezed daily, and the various syrups are made in-house. In the future, they plan to add a full-service food menu and some sort of water feature—a staple of Tiki bars. —Root staff
823 E. 3rd St., Tulsa, OK 74120
A Tulsa classic in the East Village, Hodges Bend is named after the plot of land on which it sits. Whether you’re here for a business meeting or an intimate night cap, Hodges Bend’s atmosphere is accommodating and welcoming. Their baristas and sommeliers are friendly and knowledgeable, and can make just about any drink you can think up.
The Tobacco Old-Fashioned is a standout: with rum, tobacco bitters, and orange peel, it’s got a perfect balance of sweetness and bitterness, and using rum as the base spirit gives it an interesting and surprising kick. And if you need an upper to go with your downer, try one of their many freshly made coffee-based cocktails as well. —Root staff
3rd and Denver, Tulsa, OK 74103
Perhaps the perfect speakeasy holdover between a long day of work in downtown Tulsa and an evening concert at the BOK Center, MixCo's menu is loaded up with high-end bar food and an array of beverages for the adventurous urban explorer. Located in the historic MidCo Building that was first built in 1919 and today boasts refurbished terrazzo floors, MixCo's got a great backdoor patio, comfy interior seating and a kitchen that stays open late.
Oh, and they make their own version of Fireball cinnamon whiskey in house, which they call The Spice. (Yes nerds, that's a "Dune" reference.) Get it in an Atreides Mule, one of their many tantalizing house cocktails. —Matt Carney
122 N. Boston Ave., Tulsa, OK 74103
Amelia’s dining room is always packed with jubilant dining guests, but the bar is also a lovely respite for those who like to roll solo. Amelia’s bar is the ideal spot to light at the end of a long day to languish over a glass of bold red from their exquisite wine list and an epicurean nibble, like the unctuous country style pork pate made with locally grown pork.
Along with their thoughtful wine list, they also have a stable of superb classic cocktails; but they certainly aren’t afraid to take a few risks. Their Smashed Beet Margarita may sound perplexing, but once you have the first sip, the flavors stand to attention. The earthiness of the beets mellows the brightness of the lime, and adds unexpected warmth to the tequila. The result is a rosy-pink tipple that represents a distinctly Oklahoma take on the classic margarita. —Angela Evans
324 E. 3rd St., Tulsa, OK 74120
With its unassuming name, you might skip right past the Juniper Cocktail on this Blue Dome District restaurant's menu. Your mistake. It packs a bright, citrusy tang balanced against an infused cucumber dill gin that the staff prepares each day for happy hour. Look up to the southeast corner of this modest but well-appointed bar and you'll see about half a dozen infusion jars sitting on shelves like delicious science experiments. Some of the Juniper's delicious infusions take weeks to make, while others, such as the jalapeño tequila that punches up the Jalapeño Pomarita, are ready overnight.
Look a little further down the menu for Juniper's house takes on classic cocktails. The Dutch 75 is a spicy twist on a French 75, and quite popular, according to the bartender. For a slower sip, try the Midnight Vespers. It's on the smokier side, fruity, with a peel of lemon suspended in its enticing rust-pink amber. And of course, if you find yourself hungry after happy hour, one of Tulsa's best kitchens is directly behind you. Order early and often. —Matt Carney
3509 S. Peoria Ave. Ste. 161, Tulsa, OK 74105
Oren is the sleek and stylish restaurant tucked away like a pearl along the frenetic stretch of Brookside. The sleek interior has a lovely LA vibe, with a patio perfect for sipping one of their signature cocktails.
While the dining menu is a collection of serious culinary clout, they let loose and have some fun with their house cocktails. The Elephant Talk—a vodka based tipple with coconut, lime, toasted sesame and orange bitters—highlights their ability to create multi-faceted flavor experiences. In an ordinary coup glass, the mix masters at Oren choreograph a sequence of sweet and savory with bitter and tart that will take you on a wild ride you’ll savor to the very last drop. —Angela Evans
108 N. Detroit Ave., Tulsa, OK 74103
Duet Restaurant and Jazz brings rhythm to the Arts District with its creative fare upstairs, and its incredible line-up of world-class performers downstairs in the lounge. Whether enjoying dinner or a show, their selection of cocktails are sure to pair beautifully with your evening. Duet plays the hits with aplomb, but they also know how to riff on the standards. The Dirty Uncle is their take on a dirty martini, replete with a blue cheese olive. The Love for Sale cocktail is a quartet of vodka, crème de rose, lemon and prosecco. The floral notes of rose bubble up from the prosecco, but is anchored by the hit of citrus and boozy rim-shot of vodka. —Angela Evans
11 Reconciliation Way, Tulsa, OK 74103
You can’t talk about cocktails or the bars and restaurants that serve them without using the words atmosphere or ambiance, and for those of you who put a premium on these two vital environmental conditions, Bull in the Alley awaits. Tucked away in an alley in the Tulsa Arts District (look for a big, green door with a brass bull hanging above it), this cosmopolitan chophouse stays dimly lit from open to close, thoroughly secluded from the busy downtown traffic around it.
Bull in the Alley gravitates around its gorgeous marble-topped bar, behind which work some of this city’s finest bartenders. One of them made me a strange twist on a Paper Airplane on New Year’s Eve 2019 that to this day, I haven’t forgotten. He refused to explain how he made it, claiming a trade secret. Sometimes the best atmosphere is an air of mystery. —Matt Carney
112 S. Elgin Ave. Ste. B, Tulsa, OK 74120
The patron saint of dance himself would be proud of this techno/house dance club and cocktail bar named for him. The brainchild of Aaron Post (who also owns Valkyrie in the Tulsa Arts District), St. Vitus is a dance club where the drinks aren't just an afterthought.
Their cocktails take fun spins on classics and are batched so that you can return quickly to the dance floor. Their “Old Fashioned” is fortified with madeira, brandy, and rum in addition to its usual Bourbon and bitters. Find this intimate venue tucked into the alley behind Vintage Wine Bar. —Root staff
522 S. Boston Ave. b100, Tulsa, OK 74103
One of Tulsa’s most exclusive hot spots for dinner and cocktails is also one of the hardest to find. Boston Title & Abstract delivers serious speakeasy vibes deep below the Deco District, and offers the perfect respite for those with a taste for adventure.
The basement level space features luxurious bar seating with a front-row view of all the kitchen action, and a cozy leather couch and high-back chairs perfect for canoodling with a cocktail. They can mix up what poison you prefer, but a changing roster of house cocktails offer a fun departure. The L’Orange features locally-produced rum from OK Distilling, a perfect pour of Pernod, and a candied orange topper which produces a heady combo of sweet, spice and citrus. —Angela Evans