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progressive dinner, SF civic center, where to have cocktails?

I am putting together a 60th birthday party for a group of women, ranging in age from 30 to 60. I have dinner reservations at Hayes Street Grill, dessert reservations at Citizen Cake. Please help me decide where to take this group of 9 for cocktails... considering Absinthe, Jardinere, Zuni or your favorite watering hole within walking distance?

We want atmosphere that is loungy with seating, and the noise level is not so deafening as to allow conversation. Good drinks are important. Also important, the ability to walk in on a Friday evening (6-ish) and get decent service. Is there anywhere you know of that one can make a reservation for the bar/lounge? Appetizers are a minor consideration.

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  1. Personally, I love the atmopshpere at Jardiniere. My suggestion is to call and ask if any of the restaurant will be able to hold seats aside for 9 at the bar. Paul K also has a bar and within walking distance of Hayes Street Grill. The cocktails are pretty good.

    If you get a chance, you may want to go to several of the places during the time you plan to have cocktail and see what the scenes are like.

    1 Reply
    1. re: anna

      Great suggestion for the prelim visit. I have only been to Paul K once for dinner and loved the food, but don't remember what the bar was like.

      1. re: chowchowchow

        Interesting, what makes Soluna a candidate? I have only driven by there and do not know it.

      2. Just out of curiosity, what does "progressive dinner" in the title mean??

        2 Replies
        1. re: Paul H

          A progressive dinner is one that is eaten in stages or courses at varoius locations, hence traveling to different restaurants is one strategy. This used to be a common party theme, where groups of neighbors would host a course and the guests would travel from one house to another.

          1. re: deelish

            Thanks for the information. In San Francisco, you never know. :-)

        2. Another vote for Jardiniere because of the shape of the bar. Absinthe could work if they would give you a table. The odds are best if it's now before opera and symphony season start in mid September.

          Otherwise consider a bottle of champagne in the garden behind Arlequin.

          If they're a hip crowd and don't mind stairs, drop in at Jade. But it gets both loud and crowded on a Friday.

          No to Zuni because of the panhandlers and neighborhood. Soluna doesn't feel right for 60 somethings.

          You might add a stop at Modern Tea.

          1. Yes, it will be in mid-August, so no pre-performance problems. I am intrigued by the champagne idea in garden of Arlequin, can you tell me more?

            1 Reply
            1. re: deelish

              It's a wine store affiliated with and next door to Absinthe. I believe you can take their wines and snacks from their takeout to the garden to enjoy there.