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Aug 5, 2011 07:44 PM

Cocktails, old-school bars, and someplace for Angela Lansbury...

Hey, San Francisco--coming too see you again soon after a long time away. Can you wise SF Chowhounders recommend tips on these three subjects for me?:

1. Where is the 'fine art of the cocktail' being practiced now? I've been to the great speakeasies of New York (Little Branch, PDT, Milk & Honey, Death and Co.).....who is practicing such an art in SF at this time? Looking for exceptionally-mixed cocktails.

2. What bars can you recommend with an old-school feel....I mean dark wood, tin-stamped roof, leather booths--a feeling of history and character to them. They can even be new bars, if they re-create an old-school drinking establishment well.

3. I'll be taking my adorable 70-something parents to SF over the holidays, and want to scout out some locations. Mom is exactly like Angela Lansbury. Where would you take Ms. Lansbury if she was in town, to tickle her senses with dainty, pretty things or lovely, genteel surroundings? Someone told me about the bakery 'Miette', which looks wonderful.

Thanks, SF--I know these should be easy for ya.


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  1. Cocktails. It's not a hip place, so may not be what you are looking for, but the cocktails at the 5th floor lobby bar at the Four Seasons are exceptionally good.

    And, at a restaurant bar, the cocktails at Bar Agricole are very good. A friend rates the cocktails at Range best.

    Bar Agricole
    355 11th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

    1. Your number one stop for mixology will be bourbon and branch, easily the equal of the NY places you mention. Check the website to get an invite. Other than B&B, it's really the restaurant bars pouring it on. Places like Gitane, Zero Zero, Beretta, Heaven's Dog, a bunch of others - not the scene you're talking about, but good.

      For old school, you might try Heinhold's First and Last Chance. It's in oakland, but it's right by the ferry terminal. It might be the oldest continually operating bar, and it's very much a locals joint. You can't get mixed drinks there - it's sort of a pre-prohibition place, it's all shots and beer - and it's a hop-skip if you take the ferry, which is super fun.

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

      Heaven's Dog
      1148 Mission Street, San Francisco, CA 94103

      Last Chances
      3400 De La Cruz Blvd, Santa Clara, CA 95054

      Zero Zero
      826 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94107

      3 Replies
      1. re: bbulkow

        Ah, yes--I've heard of Bourbon & Branch as the SF version of NY speakeasies...that name is familiar...

        Bourbon & Branch
        501 Jones St, San Francisco, CA

        1. re: chrisheadrick

          B&B was not exactly a follower. I think it predates PDT and Death and Co - similar start times -, and postdates Little Branch and Milk and Honey. My research might be a little off, there's not a good history of the neuvo speakeasy movement on wikipedia.

          1. re: bbulkow

            You got it right. Pegu, Flatiron Lounge and Milk and Honey predate Bourbon and Branch, and were probably reference points.

      2. 15 Romolo has great contemporary cocktails and comes by its old-school vibe honestly, it was the bar for a Basque restaurant and hotel for almost a century.

        15 Romolo
        15 Romolo Pl, San Francisco, CA 94133

        1. For #3, maybe the Garden Court of the Palace Hotel. Breakfast, lunch, Sunday brunch, and afternoon tea only.

          Garden Court of the Palace Hotel
          2 New Montgomery St., San Francisco, CA 94105

          2 Replies
          1. re: Robert Lauriston

            +1 on the Sheraton Palace Garden Court as a treat for mom, it's a beautiful room.

            And right across the street on New Montgomery is the newly refurbished House of Shields. Which has been re-opened by a local chef, cleaned-up, but all the original style of the 1908 bar is still evident.

            1. re: pamf

              Ohmigawd--just Google image searched it--she'll love it for tea.

          2. You might check out Hayes Street Grill for Mom/Angela Lansbury...genteel, old school fish restaurant and full bar. Might also consider the Dining Room at the Ritz before it changes over to the new place in Sept.

            Hayes Street Grill
            324 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

            3 Replies
            1. re: ML8000

              I like Hayes Street, but to me the atmosphere is more 70s than old-school. It was inspired by old-school places, particularly Tadich.

              1. re: Robert Lauriston

                Probably depends on the individual, but 70's could qualify as Old School. Someone 70 now was in their 30's in that decade and may well recall it fondly.

                BTW, I've never been tempted to enter the Hayes Street Grill. Just looked at the website (opened in '79). Always occupied the niche "80's place" in my mind, but for no good reason (probably the looks from the outside). Seemed past it's prime by the time I moved here.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Bah...the green carpeting and nunnery decor is era-less. It seriously reminds me of a convent in the English countryside...a place perfectly suited for Angela Lansbury.