Bar hopping by boat

Taking the scenic route through Emerald Bay

Any day on Lake Tahoe is a pretty good day, even if the water is a bit choppy, a few gray clouds sweep across the sky and the wind is blowing like crazy.

That was how the Tahoe Weekly staff started their morning adventure bar hopping around Lake Tahoe. The Tahoe City Marina on the North Shore provided us with a boat for the day. The marina offers daily rental boats throughout the season, along with a fuel dock and other services. Check out their ad on the back page of this issue for details. (Hint: If you want a slip or buoy rental for next summer, you need to get on the wait list now.)

If an adventure to some of Tahoe’s lakeside establishments via boat is on your bucket list, here’s the route we suggest.

Our captain, Donovan Green, was our designated driver for the day and he cruised through the chop and we were on our way to check out a few of the lakefront bars.

The sun made a few appearances along the way. In the distance, the mountains were crowned with the remnants of last year’s snow. We caught glimpses of folks as they hiked along the Rubicon Trail. Green motored the boat into Emerald Bay and we cruised by the historic Vikingsholm Castle and the Tea House on Fannette Island, with the waterfalls of Eagle Creek creating a stunning backdrop.

If an adventure to some of Tahoe’s lakeside establishments via boat is on your bucket list, here’s the route we suggest along with each bar’s signature cocktail. It’s a fun way to explore the lake and see the sights from another vantage point.

Lone Eagle Grille | Incline Village, Nev.

We suggest starting your boating adventure at the bar on Pier 111 Bar at Lone Eagle Grill at the end of the Hyatt’s 275-foot floating pier. The signature cocktail is the Lakeside Lemonade. It’s sweet but not too sweet, very crisp and refreshing on a hot day. It’s made with Ketel One Citron Vodka, Pomegranate Liqueur, lemonade and lemon. You can pull up and dock at the pier or use the boat valet.

Gar Woods | Carnelian Bay

Gar Woods Grill & Pier is famous for its Wet Woody. The Wet Woody consists of orange juice, pineapple juice, cranberry juice, 151 rum, Peach Schnapps and a float of Bacardi Black. It’s a delightful summer drink. You can dock at the public pier next to Gar Woods or use the boat valet at the restaurant.

Jake’s On the Lake | Tahoe City

The next stop on the bar tour is Jake’s by the Lake. The Tahoe City Marina offers 2-hour guest parking on a first-come, first-served basis during regular dock hours; spots cannot be reserved. To moor at the marina, pull up to the dock and speak to one of the dock attendants.

Secure the boat and try the signature Mai Tai made with Myer’s Platinum Rum and Jake’s signature P.O.G. juice (pineapple juice, orange juice, guava juice and a little white grapefruit juice). The drink is topped with Orange Curacao and Lahaina dark rum. They also recommend their Tahoe Tropical Mule and Vesper Martini.

Hacienda Del Lago | Tahoe City

Also housed at Boatworks Malls with Jake’s is the lakeside Hacienda Del Lago, which boasts the Pina Rita Margarita. It’s a great summertime boating refreshment made with Coconut Tequila, pineapple juice and a floater of Liquor 43 and a touch of vanilla flavor. Hacienda recommends pairing the drink with its signature appetizer, a Shrimp Tostada served with sliced avocado and cilantro. Dock your boat at the Tahoe City Marina after checking in with a dock attendant.

Sunnyside | West Shore

Roll in by boat to Sunnyside Resort and try their summer cocktail the SS Refresh. It is a twist on a traditional Mojito and uses organic cucumber vodka instead of rum.

You can dock at the Sunnyside Marina or by boat valet.

West Shore Cafe | Homewood

The West Shore Cafe never disappoints. A boat valet will meet you, help moor your boat and take you to the pier. They have a number of delicious drinks, with the Craw daddy Crush being their summer signature drink. It’s made with Sailor Jerry, Myers Rum, Amaretto and fresh fruit juices. The Smokey and the Bandit cocktail is, well, smoky, prepared with Alipus Mezcal, prickly pear, Ancho Reyes and jalapeno agave. The El Pepino was my favorite. This delightful drink was prepared with Corralejo Tequila, lime, black peppercorn syrup and a cucumber black-salted rim. If you’re in an Island mood try the Pisco-lada, it’s coconut tastiness.

Signature appetizers included a bone in pork shank with dry rub and a spicy buttermilk dressing and a hummus plate with roasted vegetables, black garlic hummus and flat bread crackers. But it was the Pan Seared Scallops with bacon relish and locally sourced watercress that won my heart.

Chambers Puch

Chambers Landing | West Shore

As you cruise toward South Lake, you’ll hit the oldest bar on the lake, Chambers Landing. The bar is a summer institution. Pull up to one of the piers to dock and enjoy the signature Chambers Punch. The frozen slushy drink, made with Passion Fruit, orange juice, guava juice, 151 light rum with dark rum floated on top, will help beat the heat on a hot summer day. The original bar was built in 1859 and rich with history. Turkey Tacos are a hit here.

Camp Richardson | South Lake Tahoe

The Beacon Bar and Grill at Camp Richardson is another stop on the tour. Dock at the Camp Richardson Marina and grab a Rum Runner.

Glazed Pork Ribs at Riva Grill

Riva Grill | South Lake Tahoe

The Riva Grill has a boat valet that greets your boat and they’ll help you hook up to a buoy and bring you to the dock. Their signature drink is Thunderbird Margarita. Fresh squeezed lime, Agave Nectar, 2 ounces of Cazadores Reposado and a Cointreau float, while gazing at the lake and sipping a cocktail. Enjoy their Beer Battered Coconut Prawns with mango mustard marmalade and grilled pineapple and the Pomegranate Glazed Pork Ribs, slow smoked St. Louis ribs with a pomegranate-molasses glaze and basil oil were some of the best ribs ever.

The beauty of the nature that surrounds us is nothing short of spectacular. Rocky outcrops, pine forests, sandy beaches resting against majestic ski runs now green with foliage waiting patiently for winter can be viewed from another perspective when traveling by boat. Have a grand journey around the lake, stop in a few of the bars and tell them the Tahoe Weekly sent you.

Editor’s Note: Please be sure to tip the dock attendants and boat valets at local marinas and restaurants as you would your server.

Sunnyside’s SS Refresh recipe:

Pour all ingredients over ice:
1.25 ounces Square One Organic Cucumber Vodka
.25 ounces organic agave nectar
.25 ounces fresh lime juice
7 mint leaves
Shake and muddle
Top off with soda water
Garnish with lime wedge.

El Pepino

Courtesy West Shore Café
2 oz. Corralejo blanco Tequila
.50 Lime
.50 House-made Black Peppercorn Syrup
4 (thin) Cucumber slices