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San Francisco Lounges


mixtress
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Thanks to all for your replies so far. This will only be my second time in the Bay Area, so I'm a little fuzzy on geography. We won't have a car, but I'll look into your recommendations and see what's workable.

In terms of what I'm looking for from liquor stores, I'm mostly thinking of American whiskey (Bourbon and rye), since it's ridiculously overpriced here in Ontario.

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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  • 2 weeks later...

That list didn't include The Orbit Room on Market Street, which is hands down one of my favorite places for a cocktail. That "little guy" behind the bar has a mean muddle and a big pour.Sure, Orbit has its quirks. I like it because it is not pretentious, the pricetag is lower than most San Francisco lounges and the cocktails are above and beyond extraordinary.

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I haven't had much luck at the Orbit Room the last couple times I've been there.

I do like that the cocktails are cheaper than the average and fairly generously portioned.

I have had good experiences there in the past.

But the last couple times the service has been painfully slow and the cocktails pretty mediocre.

Definitely not consistent enough for me to recommend it to out of town guests.

---

Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I had dinner at Cortez on Thursday and when I arrived, the bar scene was quite active and the two cocktails I ordered were amazing; "The Journalist" Distillery 209 gin, cointreau, red & white vermouth, lemon juice and bitters, and lemon twist and "The Bossa Nova" Rum, walnut liqueur, and bitters.

I would definitely return if only for the cocktails.

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I'll second the Slanted Door.  Erik tipped me off to their excellent bar program earlier this.  They do a remarkable job, especially considering it's a very popular high volume restaurant that's always packed.

If you find yourself down in or near the Ferry Building and get a hankering fora cocktail, stop by and have a drink or two.

I agree - as popular as it is, their bar is fantastic. They make their own ice cubes, sub zero, and the "Whiskey Cocktail" is incredible (Van Winkle bourbon, bitters and sugar on the rocks).

If you're in Berkeley, I also like Cesar, though I have not been for a few years.

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  • 4 weeks later...

I got back from San Francisco last night. While there, I had a chance to visit both Alembic and Beretta, both of which were thoroughly enjoyable.

At Alembic, I had an unnamed drink with M&R Bianco vermouth, Junipero gin, grapefruit bitters and Campari as well as the Vice Grip. Both were very nice, as was the Paloma my partner enjoyed. We also had some nibbles, including the lamb sliders, which were delicious.

Beretta blew me away, though. And it was packed on a Sunday night, so clearly they're doing something right. I had a Dolores Park Swizzle (Neisson rhum blanc, lime juice, maraschino, St. George absinthe and Peychaud's bitters) and a Lonsdale (gin, apple, lemon, basil, honey), and my partner had a Hemingway Daiquiri and an Airmail. All four drinks were fantastic, but the Dolores Park Swizzle was totally the standout. We raided the antipasto menu, enjoying the fava bean crostini, carciofi alla romana, Boccalone lonza, sardines in saor, eggplant caponatina and charred radicchio with saba. Nothing was a disappointment. What's more, the service was some of the best we had in the city. Can't wait to return!

Thanks to all for your suggestions!

Edited by mkayahara (log)

Matthew Kayahara

Kayahara.ca

@mtkayahara

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  • 2 years later...

OK... so, it's 2011 now, and in early March I'm headed to San Fran for the first time. I'm looking forward to doing some "research" at some of the cocktail bars around there. What's great? Some of the places described above sound fantastic but there's undoubtedly been new places since 2008.

Any recommendations - and fun restaurants, incidentally - would be greatly appreciated.

Pip Hanson | Marvel Bar

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Here is ny short list:

Restaurants with an amazing bar program:

Beretta

Slanted Door

Nopa

Alembic

Bar Agricole

15 Romolo

Comstock Saloon

Prospect

Range

Fifth Floor

Bars where you can get a serious cocktail

Rickhouse

Smugglers Cove

Bourbon and Branch

Rye

And this is just one you should check out on a sunday morning.

Buena Vista for some of the best Irish Coffee

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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I would Aziza to the list of restaurants that have exceptional cocktails; their cachaca with cardamom and tarragon is a favorite. And a quick glance shows they have definitely added to theircocktail repertoire.

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Can anyone tell me the deal with Bourbon and Branch's password/reservation policy? I'd love to go this week but their online reservation system is singularly unhelpful. Any tips for getting in?

Pip Hanson | Marvel Bar

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What problem are you having with the online system? When I needed to change a reservation, I didn't have a problem getting in touch with the hostess on the phone. I don't remember exactly when I called, but it was probably a bit before they open up.

 

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Here is ny short list:

Restaurants with an amazing bar program:

...

Alembic

...

"ny short list"? Nice typo, John. I think this is the SF short list.

I would argue Alembic is a bar with an amazing restaurant program, but pataytoe, patahtoe...

Also, you forgot Heaven's Dog.

;-)

Edited by eje (log)

---

Erik Ellestad

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

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I love having cocktails in the city - my favorites are:

Beretta - its close to my home but consistently great cocktail, really good food and fair prices.

Heavens Dog/Slanted Door - Same owner, but Heavens Dog has more emphasis on cocktails and importantly is a lot easier to get a seat there than the insanely popular Slanted Door. Get Shanghai dumplings & a few cocktails and all is well..

Bar Agricole - great space, great cocktails.

If you want to get a little deeper in the mission, there's a new place, the Royal Cuckoo that makes a lovely manhattan. The play records and its a good mix.

I went a little further back in this thread and i'd also recommend Vesuvious/Specs in North Beach for a shot of Irish and a beer.

Have fun!

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Heavens Dog/Slanted Door - Same owner, but Heavens Dog has more emphasis on cocktails and importantly is a lot easier to get a seat there than the insanely popular Slanted Door. Get Shanghai dumplings & a few cocktails and all is well..

I'm a dissenter Heaves Dog DOES have fabulous cocktails but singularly uninspiring food making it not worth the trip for me. Far too many great places for cocktails in this city with better eats! The Sidecar at Bix, for example, paired with the incomparable steak tartare...

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