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trillium

best low-key places in SF for cocktails

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I put this in this forum instead of the geographically specific one because I'm hoping to hear about places that have good to great cocktails (real fruit, no xtini everything), not which have the hippest scene. I used to know these places back in the day, but it's been years since I've lived in the city. I'll be back this weekend for some hanging out time with a friend who is also coming from out of town. My friend isn't usually super comfortable in places like the Starlight lounge, so I'm hoping for pointers towards friendly, laid-back bars that pour good drinks. Help please!

thanks,

trillium

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Well, I'll take what I can get, maybe they'll do ok with cocktails too. What are a couple of your favorites?

thanks

trillium

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My two favorites are:

The Toronado on Haight Street near Fillmore. No cocktails here, but a fantabulous selection of beers on draft -- I'd guess 40 or so. Brain-bendingly eclectic jukebox, great bathroom graffiti, and no-nonsense bartenders. They're also cool with people bringing in food. Rosamunde Sausage Grill (owned by the same people as the bar) is right next door, and Ali Baba's Cave makes great falafel, 3 or 4 doors down.

Wild Side West on Cortland Street in Bernal Heights. They do make cocktails and although there's nothing uber-trendy, I don't really find their drinks to be well-made, so I stick with beer or cider here. The best part of the place is its laid-back vibe and its outdoor spaces... It's an old Edwardian house with a nice back patio and a full back yard with lots of little nooks and crannies to sit and chat. The clientele (many of whom, incidentally, are lesbians) are quietly friendly. It's a great spot at any time, but especially on a sunny afternoon.


Anita Crotty travel writer & mexican-food addictwww.marriedwithdinner.com

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I have a Toronado t-shirt circa 1992 (my favorites were Golden Bear Lager and Twist of Fate Bitter). It is a great place for beer and hanging out, but alas, my friend is not a beer drinker. I'll keep the Bernal Heights spot in mind, thanks.

regards,

trillium

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I like the bar at One Market. I know it has its detractors, but I like the space, a good basic martini, professional service. It remains popular but I don't think you could call it trendy after all these years. I would say the same about Aqua as well.

Not to hijack your thread here, Trillium, but on a related note, curious what anyone knows about the venerable Persian aub Zam Zam post-Bruno?


Judy Jones aka "moosnsqrl"

Sharing food with another human being is an intimate act that should not be indulged in lightly.

M.F.K. Fisher

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No problem, I've been wondering that too, and thought I might check it out while I'm there.

regards,

trillium

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The Orbit Room does indeed have exactly the kind of cocktail menu that would appeal to habitues of this forum -- and if you go on Friday you can even get an Alberta Straub creation -- but it's kind of a one-butt bar and even on weeknights the place is choked, so I find it kind of hectic.

I'm so unhip I don't even know what sort of crowd "the Starlight lounge" connotes, but I have run across a couple of restaurants with good bars lately: Oola on Folsom near 4th, and Circolo on Florida at Mariposa. Both are kind of smoked-glass stylish, but don't seem overly attitudinal; not really sure what kind of place you're trying to rule out. Both are, of course, excellent restaurants.

--

Ben

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INot to hijack your thread here, Trillium, but on a related note, curious what anyone knows about the venerable Persian aub Zam Zam post-Bruno?

I can't believe I forgot about Aub Zam Zam. I went there a year ago or so, after a disappointing late lunch at Magnolia brew pub. It was great: serious cocktails (we had Boodles martinis), great bartender, quiet. A nice oasis.

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INot to hijack your thread here, Trillium, but on a related note, curious what anyone knows about the venerable Persian aub Zam Zam post-Bruno?

I can't believe I forgot about Aub Zam Zam. I went there a year ago or so, after a disappointing late lunch at Magnolia brew pub. It was great: serious cocktails (we had Boodles martinis), great bartender, quiet. A nice oasis.

And I assume that they have a more liberal seating policy post-Bruno? Good to know it was great.

I screwed up mentioning the Starlight, it's the Starlight Room not lounge and it's at the Drake. It's supposed to have some serious cocktails but it has a dress code and you need to make reservations in order to have a table to sit at and there is a cover charge. It could be fun, but seems a little stiff. Stylish is fine, even good, just hoping to avoid gratuitous pretension, trendoids or really loud crowds. We have a lot of catching up to do.

regards,

trillium

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Harry Denton's Starlight Room now has a pretty serious "master mixologist" in Jacques Bezuidenhout. They've recently been in the news as Bezuidenhout has created a new suite of incredibly expensive cocktails.

This SF Chronicle Article has some details.

Sidle up to the bar and if you're lucky, you might catch a glimpse of Jacques Bezuidenhout mixing a drink into a giant Champagne flute. From one hand, a rust- colored, infused Armagnac streams out of what can only be described as a beaker reminiscent of seventh-grade science class. From the other, bubbles cascade over the lip of a bottle of Dom Perignon. But this is more than just your average Champagne cocktail.

The price tag: $650.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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Harry Denton's Starlight Room now has a pretty serious "master mixologist" in Jacques Bezuidenhout.  They've recently been in the news as Bezuidenhout has created a new suite of incredibly expensive cocktails.

Damn, dude, you beat me to it by just over an hour...

("Oh, *that* Starlight Room.")

--

Ben

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Cortez: Marco (one of the bartenders there) is one of the best in the city

Enrico's: great mojitos

Eastside West: Eric, Rick & Greg are also some of the best bt's in the city

Betelnut: great mai tai's & bloody marys

Faralon: great bar & drinks

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I think a list of the lesser known places in the City needs to include the Grand View at the Hyatt on Union Square. It is never crowded, the views are stunning, and they have a really good selection of liquors. You can talk there and hear each other.

I also like the bar at Jardinere, but not matter what, you always feel under dressed with the symphoney and opera crowd there.

The bar at Absinthe is very good, too, but it can get moo-ey fast, but again, clears out in time for the symphoney/opera.

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Frisson has some of the most innovative cocktails anywhere in the city. They all take risks and there are both hits and misses, but if you go out on a limb and order a hibiscus martini that you don't like they'll replace it.

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