San Francisco's been cultivating their craft cocktail scene for years - and it's seriously paid off. From subtle speakeasies to surprisingly skilled dive bars to blowout booze fests like the annual SF Cocktail Week, bartenders across SF are more than eager to show off their muddling and mixing skills.
Ready to dive in? Read on below for the top spots to sip some of SF's best cocktail concoctions or check out our mixology heat map to bar hop your way through the list.
Named after the classic murder scene in The Maltese Falcon and inspired by film noir, this is one hotel lounge you don't actually want to avoid. Dripping with crystal chandeliers and accented by bare brick walls and chic vintage furniture, this is a bar suited for hotel guests and locals alike. A quick glance at their spirit-heavy cocktail menu and you're certain to stay for more than just a drink.
Address: 417 Stockton St (at Sutter St)
Neighborhood: Union Square
Hours: Mon-Thu, Sun 5pm - 12 am; Fri - Sat 5pm - 2am
Paying tribute to the turn-of-the-century charm (and grit) of San Francisco's Barbary Coast, Comstock Saloon gets it right in a space that's stood the test of time for over a century (earthquakes and all). While the ornate wallpaper and downtown location may breathe a bit of stuffiness, Comstock livens things up with craft cocktails and some serious soul food. Order up a period-appropriate cocktail, and then stuff yourself with indulgent entrees like the Beef Shank and Bone Marrow Pot Pie.
Address: 155 Columbus Ave (between Kearny St & Jackson St)
Neighborhood: North Beach / Financial District
Hours: Mon-Thu, Sat 4pm - 2am; Fri 12pm - 2am; Sun 4pm - 12am
Elixir is known as San Francisco's second oldest saloon. With that kind of history, the bar brings a rich menu of classic craft cocktails to the Mission. Elixir's head bartender, H, was named "2010 Bartender of the Year" by Nightclub and Bar Magazine for his fresh offerings of hand-selected booze and his ability to make Elixir into a San Francisco landmark. Stop by for a Corpse Reviver or one of their seasonal specialties.
Address: (3200 16th Street)
Hours: Mon-Fri 3pm - 2am; Sat 12pm - 2am; Sun 11am - 2am
Bourbon & Branch may be one of the most elusive cocktail bars in the city, but it's also an obligation for anyone that fancies himself a cocktail connoisseur (or just likes a damn good drink). With bartenders decked out in 1920's garb, speakeasy passwords, secret rooms, and a drink menu guaranteed to make your jaw drop - B&B will never disappoint.
Address: 501 Jones St (between O'Farrell St & Geary St)
Neighborhood: Civic Center/Tenderloin
Hours: Mon-Sat 6 pm - 2 am
Alembic (the sister bar to brewery favorite, Magnolia) classes up Haight Street with hard hitting cocktails muddled to perfection. While the space may be a bit narrow, the regularly overflowing crowd never seems to care. Their classic cocktail list - chock full of Sazeracs and Bourbon Old Fashioneds - all pack a punch, while their "New School" libations overflow with creativity. Don't forget to scope out the food menu for a few intimidating bar bites that'll really stretch your palate… Did someone say pickled quail eggs?
Address: 1725 Haight St (between Cole St & Shrader St)
Hours: Mon-Sun 12 pm - 2 am
Named after the discreet alleyway that 15 Romolo is hidden in, this cocktail and tapas bar is always packed. Bartenders serve up a rotating round of cocktails featuring house infusions, hand-selected tinctures and homemade fruit compotes. Keep things classic with a Pimm's Cup or Collins, then branch out with one of their house cocktails like the Sleepy Jean (Chamomile Infused Four Roses Bourbon, Nectarine Compote, Lemon, Peychaud's). Tasty small plates like Crispy Shrimp n' Cornbread will round your night off.
Address: 115 Romolo Pl (between Broadway St & Fresno St)
Neighborhood: North Beach
Hours: Mon-Fri 5pm - 2am; Sat-Sun 11:30am - 2am
Who said cocktail bars had to be classy? Fresh on the scene in the ex-International Club space, The Rock Bar is heating up the Outer Mission with whiskey-laden cocktails that pack a serious punch. Don't be fooled by this bar's divy presence. It's owned by the award-winning folks behind The Front Porch - and they know what they're doing. Sip down a Dark Crystal (Powers, Averna, St. Germain, Angostura and Creole bitters) or get serious with a Fire in the Hole (Shot of Bulleit, a Can of Schlitz, and a piece of cured meat).
Address: 80 29th St (between Tiffany Ave & San Jose Ave)
Neighborhood: La Lengua (Bernal Heights / Mission)
Website: Facebook Page
Hours: Mon-Thu, Sat 4pm - 2am; Fri 12pm - 2am; Sun 4pm - 12am
There's nothing better than thin crust pizza, Italian comfort food, and a damn good cocktail. Lucky for us, Beretta spoils San Francisco weekly with ingredients fresh from the local farmers market. Explore their lengthy gourmet pizza menu (starting at a reasonable $10), then treat your tongue to one of their crafty cocktails like the Rattlesnake (Rye, Lemon, Maple, Bitters, Egg White) or the Lonsdale (Gin, Apple, Lemon, Basil, Honey) - all within the contemporary confines of one of Valencia Corridor's hottest restaurants.
Address: 1199 Valencia St (between 22nd St & 23rd St)
Hours: Mon-Fri 5:30pm - 1am; Sat-Sun 11am - 1am
Bloodhound is known for their Prohibition-style drinks served in mason jars, which is kind of kitschy, but really fun nonetheless. And with most cocktails priced at under $10, this is the perfect place to come for a pre-dinner drink or a post-party nightcap. Be sure to try one of Bloodhound’s specialty cocktails – “Recoil” (whiskey, lime and ginger beer) or “New Fashioned” (a fresh take on an old favorite). In terms of décor, Bloodhound is styled much in the way of a traditional hunters' lodge. The Big Game Hunter in one corner, mounted deer/moose head in the back, pool table, and crowds of hipsters to complete the scene.
Address: 1145 Folsom St (between Langton and 7th St.)
Hours: Mon-Sun 4pm - 2am
Slated as a “modern urban tavern,” Bar Agricole has made a splash in the mixology scene with their contemporary take on classic cocktails. Talk to any one of Bar Agricole’s bartenders and you’ll realize they’re all booze nerds – they offer a wealth of information on different types of spirits, the best way to prepare drinks and can answer basically any liquor-related question that comes to mind. A personal favorite at Bar Agricole is the “Whiz Bang” - scotch, vermouth, grenadine, absinthe and bitters cooled by one giant cube of ice.
Address: 355 11th St (between Folsom and Harrison St.)
Hours: Mon-Sat 10am – 3pm; Mon-Wed & Sun 6pm – 10pm; Thu - Sat 6pm – 11pm
Arrive early for this color-coded cocktail paradise–the duel-level gastropub tends to draw a massive crowd (and with good reason). Flip through their Pantone menu for drinks that push the envelope, such as the red Pantone 7621 (Four Roses bourbon, Combier, Kummel, beet, ginger, lemon) or the Lion Heart (Black Grouse scotch, mango, lemon, pink peppercorn). Work your way up to the mezzanine to claim a table and order up diverse small plates (think: Brawn Tacos and Scotch Eggs) from one of the doting waiters.
Address: 3010 20th St (btw Alabama St & Florida St)
Hours: Mon-Sun 3 pm - 2 am
When in the Financial District, be sure to venture below Market Street to this subterranean speakeasy. Housed beneath the historic Hearst building, Local Edition transports you into a slick, 50's inspired hideaway decked out in swanky booths, low lighting, and vintage paper presses (a nod to the newspaper businesses that once existed there). Saturday nights offer live jazz music, while the bar crafts careful seasonal cocktails six nights a week. If you plan on bringing a group, order one of their 500mL carafes (serves 6) for bottled cocktails that serve the whole table.
Address: 691 Market St (btw Kearny St & 3rd St)
Neighborhood: Financial District
Hours: Mon-Fri 5pm - 2am; Sat 7pm - 2am
Right around the corner from AT&T Stadium, the steampunk-inspired Alchemist stands out from the surrounding sports bars. Specializing in herbs and Chinese tinctures, the drink menu isn't filled with your typical Old Fashioneds–rather craft cocktails such as the Stop Fenneling Me (gin, manzanilla, falernum, fennel bitters) and the 4th Regiment (rye whiskey, dolin rouge, dash of celery, orange and angosture bitters). To keep it interesting, there are also twice-monthly guest bartenders who'll be muddling up additional drinks with seasonal ingredients.
Address:679 3rd St (btw Brannan St & Townsend St)
Hours: Mon-Fri 5pm - 1:30am; Sat 7 pm - 1:30 am
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