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SF bars/restaurants with rare libations

Kosmonaut Feb 8, 2008 07:35 AM

Where are some places in SF that serve hard-to-find and rare liquors/wines/etc?

Over the weekend I took a friend to Lark Creek Steakhouse and they have Macallan 30, which he commented that he'd never seen anywhere before. So that got me thinking, and I'd like to compile a list of places that serve hard-to-find libations for a blog post. So far I have:

Lark Creek Steak - Macallan 30
Ikkyu - Ume liqueur (not Ume wine)
O Izakaya - they have a rare cognac, I need to go back and get the name.
Bubble Lounge - they have some rare vintage champagnes
The bar at the Ritz Carlton has a few single malts from defunct distilleries.

Thanks!

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    SteveG RE: Kosmonaut Feb 8, 2008 10:55 AM

    Absinthe, probably Bourbon and Branch, definitely Rohan Lounge.

    7 Replies
    1. re: SteveG
      Carrie 218 RE: SteveG Feb 8, 2008 01:00 PM

      Steve - Absinthe definitely at Rose Pistola:
      http://www.feast-blog.com/my_weblog/2...

      Also, I'm sorry I don't remember the name, but I bought my BF some rare, Scotch at the Clift's Red Room (I'm not a Scotch fan, otherwise I would recall what it was...). I just remember that it was in the neighborhood of $80 a shot.

      1. re: Carrie 218
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        foodeye RE: Carrie 218 Feb 8, 2008 02:00 PM

        SteveG would have been describing Absinthe on Hayes, the restaurant and bar, not the drink. ; )

        1. re: foodeye
          Robert Lauriston RE: foodeye Feb 8, 2008 02:16 PM

          Absinthe, like a number of upscale bars, actually has absinthe:

          http://www.chowhound.com/topics/47629...

      2. re: SteveG
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        SteveG RE: SteveG Feb 8, 2008 03:27 PM

        Oops--scratch Rohan. I meant Nihon, the place on 14th at Folsom, mentioned by kresge86 below. They'll let you buy a super duper special bottle and then keep it in your own locker, though that info comes from a while back and they may have either discontinued this or filled up their storage space.

        Also, as others have already mentioned, when I said "Absinthe" I meant the bar Absinthe, which has lots of great top shelf and rare liquors, though I don't recall them having a deep whiskey or bourbon selection.

        I guess Nihon just doesn't stick in my brain because it translates as Japan, and the food is so far from traditionally Japanese, though I guess the high end whiskey aspect of it is spot on.

        1. re: SteveG
          grishnackh RE: SteveG Feb 8, 2008 11:13 PM

          I'll second Nihon and add Alfred's for their great bartenders and extensive selection of fine whiskies.

          -----
          Alfred's Steak House
          659 Merchant St., San Francisco, CA 94111

          Nihon Whisky Lounge
          1779 Folsom Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

          1. re: grishnackh
            susancinsf RE: grishnackh Feb 9, 2008 08:20 AM

            Not rare, but for traditionalists, Alfred's makes a pretty mean martini also.

            1. re: grishnackh
              Kosmonaut RE: grishnackh Feb 10, 2008 10:58 AM

              I will check out these places, thanks!

        2. wolfe RE: Kosmonaut Feb 8, 2008 11:22 AM

          Tommy's Mexican.
          http://www.tommysmexican.com/index.ph...

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            cupcakery RE: Kosmonaut Feb 8, 2008 01:04 PM

            Erik Adkins, bar manager at Slanted Door is always scouting rare and exotic ingredients to include in their cocktails.

            1. lanersg RE: Kosmonaut Feb 8, 2008 01:04 PM

              Alembic

              1 Reply
              1. re: lanersg
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                chutney RE: lanersg Feb 8, 2008 01:54 PM

                Aziza

              2. k
                kresge86 RE: Kosmonaut Feb 8, 2008 01:59 PM

                If you like single-malt scotch, then you have to try Nihon. Bourbon & Branch also had some interesting single-malts. Alembic has great cocktails, but I waited 30 minutes for a drink last night. Not the bartender's fault... but the place was crowded and there was only one bartender making very elaborate drinks.

                1. a
                  adog RE: Kosmonaut Feb 8, 2008 05:09 PM

                  I second The Alembic - http://www.alembicbar.com/. I hear its where all the SF bartenders go. Try the Bee's Knees.

                  1. s
                    sugartoof RE: Kosmonaut Feb 8, 2008 06:09 PM

                    R Bar in the Tenderloin for Fernet. Actually you can find it more frequently now.... Fernet-Branca has a real following amongst some San Franciscans.

                    http://www.sfweekly.com/2005-12-07/ne...

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: sugartoof
                      Robert Lauriston RE: sugartoof Feb 9, 2008 09:26 AM

                      In SF, unlike most of the country, Fernet's not rare at all. As noted in that story, we consume locally about half of what's imported into the U.S.

                      1. re: Robert Lauriston
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                        sugartoof RE: Robert Lauriston Feb 9, 2008 11:18 AM

                        Right, which is why I mentioned you can "find it more frequently now".
                        It's an exotic liquor that's been adopted by the city, more or less.

                    2. rworange RE: Kosmonaut Feb 8, 2008 10:57 PM

                      Voda a vodka bar with some lesser seen vodkas

                      1. Syphrite RE: Kosmonaut Mar 25, 2008 01:08 PM

                        Are there other places similar to Bourbon and Branch in SF?

                        5 Replies
                        1. re: Syphrite
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                          Fig Newton RE: Syphrite Mar 25, 2008 01:20 PM

                          Similar in what way?

                          1. re: Fig Newton
                            Syphrite RE: Fig Newton Mar 25, 2008 01:30 PM

                            Similar in style and cocktails. I'm heading out to visit in a few weeks and I want to visit a few cocktail lounges while I'm there. =)

                            1. re: Syphrite
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                              Fig Newton RE: Syphrite Mar 25, 2008 01:47 PM

                              Not with the reservation/speakeasy thing, but bars with a similar focus on excellent cocktails are Alembic, Rye, Cantina.

                              If you include restaurant bars, I'd also consider Coco500, Orson (cool though $12 cocktails), NOPA, and Absinth.

                              1. re: Fig Newton
                                tvham RE: Fig Newton Mar 25, 2008 02:08 PM

                                Fig Newton has some great suggestions - Alembic, Rye and Cantina are my three favorite places for a cocktail in the city!

                                1. re: Fig Newton
                                  Syphrite RE: Fig Newton Mar 25, 2008 02:10 PM

                                  Sweet thanks! Restaurant bars work for me too. While a cool vibe is great, I'm more interested in having a quality cocktail. $12 is pretty on par with what I've had here in the city. Though nothing beats the $18 price tag for an Old Cuban at Bemelman's in the Carlyle! :)

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