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Best Cocktail Bars in San Francisco

, 17 Options Found

Once you walk in through the doors of the Local Edition, you will be transported to a whole different era. This cocktail bar recreates a newspaper office from the 1950s and 1960s, and is a perfect tribute to the space that was once the printing room of San Francisco's popular publication, The Examiner. The walls are adorned with newspaper articles of the mid-20th Century, and the bar counter even has typewriters as embellishments. Classic concoctions and contemporary variations are well represented here. Do try the Bloody Mary and Highball, or the Fidel and Mojito for a new flavor.

Step inside this apothecary-themed bar and try some of the wildest and tasty cocktails you can imagine. The term the "Devil's Acre" was used to describe a dangerous San Francisco neighborhood in the 1880s and the bar pays tribute to the name by showcasing antique pharmaceutical decor. The drink menu features 1880s recipes as well as unique originals. Adding to the apothecary theme, the bar lets you order a drink mixed with one of the eight "remedies," like herbs that are suppose to be a "stress soother" or an "immunity tonic." Try to find the staircase in the back so you can head down to the hidden basement bar.

If the name Smuggler's Cove conjures pictures of pirates singing, "Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum," well rest assured that's no mistake. This bar specializes in rum-based drinks, specifically Havana Probation-era, traditional Caribbean and tiki bar concoctions. The decor echoes the menu, providing comfortable seating in a tiki bar-inspired atmosphere. Smuggler's Cove makes sure to maintain a relaxed atmosphere by keeping the bar from getting too crowded and keeping music at a low level so everyone can talk while sipping their drinks. This means there's sometimes a line at the door, but don't let that scare you away from stepping into the cove.

Bourbon & Branch is the talk of the town. Perched inconspicuously on a corner in San Francisco's Tenderloin, Bourbon & Branch has no signage and the door is closed tight. When you ring the buzzer, the door swings open and you are asked for the password. If you do not have the password, the door slams shut. It sounds barbaric, but once you have taken the time to register on their website, make a reservation, and receive a password, you will be graciously ushered into a world of boozy delight. The atmosphere is an homage to Prohibition-era speakeasies, albeit with a dash of modern urban swank. The drink menu is extensive and innovative. Featured fare includes not just one, but a whole selection of hand-numbered craft bourbons. A list of rare scotches, rums, and tequilas round out the offerings. Bartenders here are master mixologists, incorporating such sought-after liquors into equally tantalizing, boundary-busting cocktails. See the website for online reservations and a complete list of house rules.

This nondescript bar conveniently located in the Tendernob looks quite staid from its facade, however inside, the bartenders expertly craft cocktails to San Franciscans in the know. The atmosphere is casual. A couple of featured cocktails are the the Hemingway Daiquiri and the Basil Gimlet, both are delicious or you can order a perfect Martini or Manhattan just the same. They have a pool table as an added bonus or if you prefer, you can relax at the wood paneled bar.

Doug “Bix” Biederbeck opened the doors of this San Franciscan landmark in 1988 as a personal ode to his passions of jazz, art and hospitality. The award-winning menu serves up refined versions of American classics that are subject to seasonal change. Savor the likes of steak tartare, country fried chicken sandwich and oysters on the half shell that are paired with premium cocktails and fine wine. This elegant two-story setting in the unassuming alley opens up to a mezzanine dining space accented by mahogany furnishing, tasteful decor, timeless artwork and a grand piano for a nostalgic reminiscence of the glorious decades gone by.

While the mythical and much-hyped liqueur after which this establishment is named is not served here, many equally potent concoctions are. Specialty drinks, such as the Perfect Pear and the Ginger Rogers, seem to contain pure alcohol, and even a standard margarita packs an unbelievable wallop. If you're looking for something to help mitigate the effects of a strong drink, then ditch the regular bar peanuts for Absinthe's bar snacks. This bar offers bread with a smooth fig spread, croque monsieur and more. The menu changes daily, but any antipasto platter of cured meats is sure to please, as will the particularly rich duck confit. You can enjoy your meal in the main room or at a cafe-style table on the sidewalk, but if you're looking for a quieter spot, book a table in the private dining room.

The brains behind Rio Grande have come up with yet another ace from their sleeve with a quirky little cocktail joint in Mission District. Named Trick Dog, this twin story watering-hole exudes an old rustic warehouse charm accentuated by the vintage cast iron plates, banister posts and vintage marbles. Walk in here and take a pick from its cocktail list that is laid out on a Pantone-color-palate style menu. Apart from cocktail, the bar also has plenty of ales and beers to keep you company. Situated next to the fine dining restaurant Central Kitchen, the spot is perfect for a pre-dinner or post dinner drinks and a quick late-night bite with your pals.

Rickhouse was the name for warehouses where whiskeys were stored to age. Now, the name is used for a chic and very trendy bar. The decor is rustic, with a fireplace and wooden barrel design. Their cocktails are especially good, but they also have a very impressive selection of beers, wines, and rare liquors.

The Alembic's Southern theme and intimate setting are an intriguing variation from the local pubs and hippie hangouts usually found in the Upper Haight. From the owners of the Magnolia Brewery, the Alembic brings a menu of small plates that can best be described as upscale Soul Food and a diverse drink list full of interesting variations on traditional cocktails, as well as beers from around the world. Especially interesting is their local draft beer selection. Low lit and intimate, the Alembic has the feel of a modern speakeasy and is the place to go for unpretentious sophistication in the Haight.

A chic evening spot, Jones features trendy decor and plenty of outdoor seating and a lovely rooftop setting, perfect for a warm summer evening out. The roof deck is especially lovely, with its wooden tables and potted trees. Don't worry about the chill on windy evenings, as the heated lamps will keep your toes toasty. The bar has a lively ambiance and is a good place to enjoy a sophisticated after work cocktail or a light meal with friends. The menu features a good selection of drinks from well prepared cocktails to whiskeys and craft beers and wines. Looking for a more substantial meal, the food menu has plenty of options like panninis, pizzas, pastas, salads and sides. For information on private events and parties, visit the website.

A bar and an art gallery don't always form a good pair, but Madrone is a completely one of its kind "Art Bar". A paradise for art lovers, the place invites you to take a leisurely stroll through their entire gallery, sipping on the drinks, from their large and fully supplied bar. Madrone Lounge also holds exhibitions under several categories ranging from sculpting to photography. Run by artists of fine taste, you will never feel any monotony here, for the exhibits are updated regularly with new works from different art forms. Live music and other social celebrations like the Halloween Night also find a place at this gallery.

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