Kissel Uptown Oakland’s High 5ive is an East Bay Rooftop Rarity


Kissel Uptown Oakland recently made its debut within the city’s vibrant and eclectic arts and entertainment district, providing reason to staycation on the bright side of the Bay. Named for the building’s former occupant, the Pacific Kissel-Kar-Dean Lippi Showroom, the hotel honors its automotive roots by retaining showroom design elements with an art deco flair, such as the lobby’s floor-to-ceiling arched windows that overlook the city’s urban energy. But if it’s a sunset view you’re after, head around the corner to High 5ive, the hotel’s spacious rooftop bar and lounge where an outdoor terrace delivers fresh air, a skilled chef’s tasty bites, and creative (and creatively named) cocktails crafted by master mixologists.

High 5ive interior. Photo by Julie Soefer
High 5ive terrace. Photo by Julie Soefer

Inside, the chartreuse and aubergine-hued space features natural leather banquettes and velvet lounge seating that is anchored by the expansive bar. Outside, the twinkle lit terrace provides low slung couches that surround fire pits. Additional heaters allow for all-season al fresco dining and imbibing of cocktails such as the Tony Bennett, a favorite of Manhattan and Old-Fashioned fans – smokey Bulleit Rye and cherry vermouth, chilled with an oh-so-perfect ice cube rock. Gin lovers will gravitate to The Beautiful Ones – Hendrick’s Gin with Crème de Violette, blueberry shrub and lavender bitters. And for Tequila aficionados, the Solar Flare offers Milagro Blanco Tequila, chili infused agave, blood orange and habanero tincture. Each cocktail is served in vintage glassware, a mix of which makes for a striking Instagram pic.

High 5ive cocktail lineup. Photo by Julie Soefer
Carnitas street tacos. Photo by Julie Soefer

Executive chef Sam Cots serves up approachable small plates that perfectly accompany the cocktails, craft beers, and wines by the glass or bottle, such as Peri Peri Chicken Skewers with jicama citrus slaw, Ahi Tuna Poke with cilantro, avocado, black sea salt and wonton crisps, and Carnitas Street Tacos with onion, cilantro, and lime crema on a corn tortilla.

And like its host hotel’s name that honors its historic automotive roots, the High 5ive name also has local significance. As the story goes, MLB player Glenn Burke is credited as one of the first to initiate a ‘high five’ hand slap in the late ’70s as a fellow player crossed home plate after hitting a homerun. Traded later in his career to the Oakland A’s, Burke brought the high five with him and the gesture was adopted throughout the Bay Area, just as High 5ive is surely to be adopted by those seeking the urban camaraderie that the stylish space engenders.

Photos courtesy of Kissel Uptown Oakland


Fran Miller

Fran Endicott Miller is an experienced travel, wine, and general feature writer for a variety of luxury lifestyle publications and websites. Prior to her journalism career she established and managed the Golden State Warriors' first official community relations department and efforts. Principled and genuine, she’s known for thoughtfully eloquent writing. When not traveling, she can be found walking her Northern California neighborhood with her beloved golden retriever Nate.