Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > San Francisco Bay Area >
Jul 27, 2009 12:08 PM

Cocktails in SF

My wife and I will be in SF Tuesday evening (downtown) and I'd like to take her out for a drink. Someplace along the classic cocktail line and relatively unpretentious. More interested in the drinks than the scene. I'd particularly am on the lookout for an Aviation since I don't feel like buying a whole bottle of Creme de Violette for (potentially) one drink.


  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. My favorite cocktail bars at the moment:
    15 Romolo
    Heaven's Dog*

    My favorite overall cocktail spot in the city is 15 Romolo in North Beach...they also have great bar food. The bartenders there are outstanding and could definitely make you an Aviation.

    Rickhouse is new and can be a scene but you might be ok on a Tuesday evening.

    *restaurants with great cocktail programs

    3 Replies
    1. re: tvham

      +1 for Beretta. Great drinks and really good food.

      1. re: tvham

        +1 for Rickhouse. Very much enjoyed the traditional style cocktails there (not so much the sugary offerings in the giant menu) and if you get there earlier in the eve you can snag a spot on the little balcony above.

        Current fav Aviation in the city is still the one at Bourbon and Branch, a password access speakeasy with a slight scene but fun anyway.

        *Oops! If you meant Tuesday, yesterday, I'm late in the game...

        Bourbon & Branch
        501 Jones St, San Francisco, CA

        Rickhouse Bar
        246 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA

        1. re: tvham

          Second on 15 Romolo (former Basque Hotel). Great drinks and atmosphere.

          FireWater Chophouse
          2155 Market Place Blvd, Cumming, GA 30041


          One of the best ways to search the board is choose "relevance" not "recent"

          1. Personally, I find Beretta's cocktails too sweet. I like the taste of booze.
            For ambiance & a really great mixologist I'd suggest the very hidden-away Bar at the Fifth Floor (12 - 4th Street in the Palomar Hotel). Their new AGM, Scott Stewart, has totally revamped their cocktail program (like Whiskey Wednesdays) and lowered the prices. You can get a classic Manhattan for under $10 in a serene upscale setting, seemingly miles away from the braying twenty-something hipsters in the Mission..

            1. The Alembic might fit the bill. Strong emphasis on the classics there. Someone told me the Aviation at Nopa was excellent as well. I ordered one at Beretta, and while I do like that place and its cocktails, I was surprised to hear that they don't make theirs with Creme de Violette.

              2 Replies
              1. re: mrs bacon

                Are you looking at the Union Square area (as in "Downtown" downtown)? Here is the scorecard of "house specialy" drinks I have tried at bars that claim to be mixologist-worthy near union square:

                Rye (very unpretentious):
                - Basil Gimlet: excellent (see photo)
                - The Flash: not so great

                The Clock Bar at the Westin St Francis (tourists acting pretentious):
                - Ginger Rogers: not so great
                - English Breakfast: not so great

                Farallon (pretentious, plus they make you pay an extra 4% surcharge):
                - Farallon Jack Rose: not so great

                Midi (hip, but not so pretentious):
                - Cucumber crop: not so great

                Gitane (Not so pretentious: more of a serious foodie crowd)
                - La Perla: very good
                - Solera: very good
                - Smoky peach: very good

                They can probably all make a respectable aviation.

                450 Post Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                Gitane Restaurant & Bar
                6 Claude Lane, San Francisco, CA 94108

                688 Geary Street, San Francisco, CA 94102

                Clock Bar
                335 Powell Street, San Francisco, CA

                185 Sutter Street, San Francisco, CA 94104

                1. re: ssfire

                  I'll second the Basil Gimlet at Rye - that's the drink that converted me to a Gin drinker!