Santa Cruz Market
1947 E. Main St., Ventura
The Cave inside of the Ventura Wine Company
4435 McGrath St., suite 301, Ventura

There are big names in Ventura, big names in the bar scene. These are reliable bars at which to imbibe and socialize, to have the best and be seen. There exists another side — a hidden side. A few places that are off the beaten path and thus are known only by locals and true fans of rare brews, vintages and the craftiest cocktails.

One such hidden bar exists at the back of a supermarket, an otherwise nondescript corner store. The bar at Santa Cruz Market on the corner of Main and Santa Cruz is tucked neatly into the far end of the store, through an entrance into the liquor section and down between stacks of wine and beer. On the outside, the fluorescent lighting of the market fades away and the cozy atmosphere of this sleek oasis is welcoming.

On one of the six taps this visit was Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute India Pale Ale (IPA), a heavily hopped Imperial sought out by hop-heads the country over. Its being on tap at Santa Cruz Market all the way from Delaware is a testament to the market’s attention to its craft beer collection. Outside of the bar is the bottle shop in which rare and otherwise uncommon beers are kept refrigerated.

In Midtown Ventura, within the confines of the Ventura Wine Company is The Cave, the pinnacle place both to purchase rare wines and to taste before you buy. The Cave employs the Enomatic machine, a unique way to sample wine by the ounce in increments from one to three and five. With 32 wines available on the machine, whatever the chef is serving, there’s a wine for that.

Along the way, stop in at the shop and peruse the impressive wine selection. This is the kind of place that doesn’t need a gaudy sign or a doorman. The Cave is worth seeking out.

5 O’Clock Somewhere is a new column and will run every other week for the latest in tempting intoxication around Ventura County.