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Jul 15, 2008 04:52 PM

Ring-a-ding-ding cocktail bars

I'm looking for a great mid-century type cocktail bar in San Francisco. The Redwood Room used to be Sinatra hip until the whole Clift was re-done like Studio 54 or something. Where can you get a decent Martini or Manhattan with some ring-a-ding-ding atmosphere?

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  1. Have you looked at Bourbon and Branch? 1920's, but should know how to make a drink.

    Ha Ra Club? A little dive-ish, maybe Sinatra on a gritty day.

    Bourbon & Branch
    501 Jones St, San Francisco, CA

    Ha-Ra Club
    875 Geary St, San Francisco, CA 94109

    1. a dim memory of it's former self (may you RIP Bruno and your half dollars from Reno) - Persian aub Zam Zam in upper Haight. If he were still with us I'd never spill.

      but still good luck finding it. even knowing exactly where it is, we'd sometimes miss it.

      5 Replies
      1. re: hill food

        Wouldnt yu say the avg age is a little low at ZZ/Haight Street in general
        to get sort of a 50s atmosphere? Or does that not matter to the OP?

        I dunno what decade I'd call Bix, but how about those guys? ... and I think Bix
        is harder to find than ZZ. I also think Bix has better drinks than ZZ.

        Alembic near ZZ also has better cocktails IMHO, but again I dont think
        it has the atmos the OP suggests, but if he wants to focus just on the booze,
        it's excellent in the Haight.

        Top of the Mark? Havent been in the while. I dont really like the Tonga Room.

        Maybe one of the other big hotel bars? [Ritz bar was really quite when I was
        there last, St. Regis, W have a different vibe, Ducca? Was only there once on a
        quiet night ... might be worth checking out. Maxfield's? Havent been in years.
        I have not been to CLOCK BAR yet ... any feedback whether they'd fit the bill?]

        1. re: hill food

          I think the Zam Zam is a great rec; in theory I think it's supposed to have a zoot suit focus, but that translates on any given night into a general avoidance of looking modern, and people wear anything from suits to costumes from eras before the 60s.

          I get much better service when I wear a dapper hat than if I just show up in whatever I'm wearing, which I view as a good thing in this particular case.

          You should eat elsewhere before you get stuck on upper Haight.

          Persian Aub Zam Zam
          1633 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117

          1. re: SteveG

            I always think of Zam Zam as sort of a dirt bag bar, and I say that in the most loving manner as I love Zam Zam.

            For low end ring a ding ding...
            How about Tony Nik's in North Beach (Stockton at Green)

            I use to love the Owl Tree - always Frank/Dean on the juke box. I haven't been in since the new owners opened but I did peak my head inside. It's lost all it's kitsch but looks a bit swankier. It's on Post at the corner of Taylor

            Don't forget Tosca in North Beach.

            I can't really help you with uber swank ring a ding as that's not really my scene.

            1. re: PumpkinHead

              I second Tosca. Nice bar and great bartenders there.

              There's also the Deluxe on Haight Street.

              1. re: PumpkinHead

                >I always think of Zam Zam as sort of a dirt bag bar
                what does that make the Gold Cane?

          2. The Pied Piper Bar in The Palace Hotel. Beautiful Maxwell Parrish mural and great cocktails. Market and New Montgomery.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Chris Rising


              56 Gold St., San Francisco, CA 94133

              Deluxe Club
              1511 Haight St, San Francisco, CA

            2. Thanks for all the cool suggestions - I'll do my research and get back to you - hic!

              1. I'd definitely recommend checking out Clock Bar. It's got a retro feel, and the cocktail program is one of the best in the city.