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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!

  1. Syphrite Mar 25, 2008 01:08 PM

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

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

      Similar in what way?

      1. re: Fig Newton
        Syphrite 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
          f
          Fig Newton 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 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 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! :)

      2. rworange Feb 8, 2008 10:57 PM

        Voda a vodka bar with some lesser seen vodkas

        1. s
          sugartoof 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 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
              s
              sugartoof 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. a
            adog 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. k
              kresge86 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. lanersg Feb 8, 2008 01:04 PM

                Alembic

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

                  Aziza

                2. c
                  cupcakery 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. wolfe Feb 8, 2008 11:22 AM

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

                    1. s
                      SteveG Feb 8, 2008 10:55 AM

                      Absinthe, probably Bourbon and Branch, definitely Rohan Lounge.

                      7 Replies
                      1. re: SteveG
                        Carrie 218 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
                          f
                          foodeye 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 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
                          s
                          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 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 Feb 9, 2008 08:20 AM

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

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

                                I will check out these places, thanks!

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