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Cocktails in SF

b2beck Jul 27, 2009 12:08 PM

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. m
    mrs bacon Jul 28, 2009 06:48 PM

    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
      ssfire Jul 30, 2009 10:44 AM

      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
        tvham Jul 30, 2009 11:01 AM

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

    2. p
      plainfood Jul 28, 2009 01:45 PM

      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. bbulkow Jul 27, 2009 07:51 PM


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

        1. tvham Jul 27, 2009 12:14 PM

          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
            pininex Jul 27, 2009 08:11 PM

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

            1. re: tvham
              emmaroseeats Jul 29, 2009 10:26 AM

              +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
                Robert Lauriston Jul 29, 2009 10:35 AM

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

                FireWater Chophouse
                2155 Market Place Blvd, Cumming, GA 30041

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