Skip to main content

Walnut Creek Magazine

Raise a Glass with Rocker Sammy Hagar at The Passage Bar in Mill Valley

Feb 06, 2017 06:48PM ● By Fran Miller


To a certain generation, the legendary Sammy Hagar will forever be known as The Red Rocker and onetime front man for Van Halen. But to a generation raised on Rihanna and Bieber, Hagar is perhaps better known as that cool dude who owns rockin’ bars and restaurants around the country. And he’s okay with that. While he continues to play a mean guitar and considers the stage his first love, this Rock and Roll Hall of Famer is equally at home in the kitchen or behind the bar, concocting delicious dishes and strumming-up meticulously curated top-shelf cocktails, many made with spirits from his own label. 


With the recent opening of The Passage Bar in Mill Valley, sister saloon to his popular El Paseo restaurant, Hagar now offers his guests the same full-service experience found at his nine other restaurants and bars around the country, such as Sammy Hagar’s Red Rocker Bar & Grill in Memphis, and Cabo Wabo locations including that in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. He’s quick to point out that food and spirits are his avocation and not his vocation. “This is purely a passion of mine that I’m excited to share with others,” says Hagar.

And lucky are we that he shares that passion. Hagar’s purchase of popular El Paseo in 2011 marked the beginning of a new era for the restaurant. His first fine dining establishment, the popular spot featuring California cuisine with Spanish flair is a favorite of both locals and tourists. Chef Henry Cortez and his team offer a unique menu featuring local seasonal ingredients sourced from Marin County farmers and ranchers. With the addition of The Passage Bar, the intimate space set off of the street and down a brick passage way is Mill Valley’s newest hotspot and is worth a trip across the bridge.

The Passage Bar features a new beverage program in which Hagar has teamed with bar manager Steve Gizzi to design six flagship cocktails. A delicious bar menu of small plates and shareable dishes crafted by Chef Cortez (i.e. prosciutto wrapped pineapple, fried chicken with Pimenton honey, Passage Bocadillo) perfectly compliments these potent potables (Hagar admits he prefers a drink that packs a punch):

  • Waborita: Cabo Wabo blanco tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, splash of Blue Curacao, salt
  • Santorita: Santo Mezquila, lime Juice, orange Juice, Damiana liqueur, chile/salt on rim
  • Rumarita: Sammy’s Beach Bar rum, orange juice, lime juice, Cointreau
  • Evelyn’s Old Fashioned: Elmer T Lee Bourbon, Regans’ orange bitters, splash of soda, orange/cherry
  • The Passageway: Old Potrero rye, dry vermouth, lemon juice, grenadine, orange bitters
  • Old El Paseo: St George Terroir gin, Campari, honey syrup, hibiscus tea

Hagar’s initial interest in fine spirits was piqued by sheer curiosity. As with his other various business ventures, Hagar sought to produce a better tequila and rum than those currently in the market. He succeeded with the creation of chart-topping Cabo Wabo Tequila (which has since been sold), the award-winning Sammy’s Beach Bar Rum, and the recently launched Santo Mezquila in partnership with Maroon 5 front man and fellow Grammy winner, Adam Levine. 

"With every project I undertake, I am very hands-on with the process while also allowing the experts to do their thing,” says Hagar, obviously referring only to his food/spirit ventures. Because when it comes to music, Hagar IS the expert.

Photos by Hardy Wilson

El Paseo and The Passage Bar, 17 Throckmorton Avenue, Mill Valley, (415) 388-0741