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Aug 9, 2011 06:39 PM

Scotch-savvy bars and bartenders?

What bars in this city have the most extensive Scotch selections (and bartenders with the knowledge to give good recommendations)?

So far, from Chowhound, it seems the bar at Alfred's Steakhouse, Whiskey Thieves, and the clubhouse at Gleneagles Golf Course are leading contenders. I've been to Bourbon and Branch a few times, but have gotten a little irritated at its self-serious attitude; that said, if it's the best option, I'll keep going back. What I really miss is the Brandy Library in New York, where expert bartenders led me from my first neat glass of Scotch to my ever-deepening love of peat--I think I've received 90% of my Scotch education there.

ETA: Thinking further, I'm remembering that part of what I love about the Brandy Library is the way they let you taste a Scotch before committing to a pour. So if that's an attribute of any Scotch-heavy bars here, that would be great.

Whiskey Thieves
839 Geary St, San Francisco, CA

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  1. Have you been to Edinburgh Castle? Far from high end, but the real deal.

    Edinburgh Castle
    950 Geary St, San Francisco, CA

    2 Replies
    1. re: Windy

      +1. I still have fond memories of a perfect afternoon we spent there about 30 years ago. They even sent "the boy" (who was probably in his 60s) around the corner for fish and chips. Excellent and educated selection. Try The Glendronach!

      1. re: Windy

        Second Edinburgh Castle.

        Also Swig can be good before the crowds come swarming in. They have an excellent collection.

        Next comes .....Lulu ! They also have a good selection and seek out the English bartender from Ealing. She knows her scotch.

        Edinburgh Castle
        950 Geary St, San Francisco, CA

      2. The Alembic on Haight Street has a selection, maybe not the largest. Bartenders are knowledgeable and the overall feel of the place is pretty relaxed. I don't know about their sampling policy.

        1. You could stop by the Rickhouse on Kearny Street (SF) and see what they have on offer. My guess is they have a wider selection of American whiskies than Scotch, but they may have some single-malts that interest you.

          K&L Wines (on 4th Street, SF) has recently announced they are expanding the selection of single-malts in their inventory. Pick up their current newsletter. They will be importing single-malts from several distilleries that have not been available before in the U.S.

          Rickhouse Bar
          246 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA

          1. Check out the broken record on geneva. Very nice selection of scotch and bourbon in a laid back dive bar

            3 Replies
            1. re: chuckl

              Love the Broken Record. How I wish it was somewhere near a major transit line. Absolutely love the burger too.

              Broken Record
              1166 Geneva Ave, San Francisco, CA

              1. re: osho

                It's 7-8 blocks from Balboa Park BART.

                1. re: Robert Lauriston

                  Funny. It is at least a mile away from Balboa Park BART.

            2. I've only walked by never been inside but Nihon Whiskey Lounge is suppose to have 400 single malt whiskeys. Have no idea of the samples, etc.

              3 Replies
              1. re: ML8000

                It's a cozy place, but vibe definitely depends on who's there. Not cheap, but they do have happy hour. (Same owners as Tsunami and Cafe Abir.)

                1. re: Windy

                  Nihon has knowledgeable people at times. The bottle service - you can buy a bottle and they store it in a locker for you. But the mark up is quite insane. A bottle of 12 YO Glenfiddich is $190 or thereabouts.

                  No discounts on scotch or beer during Happy Hour.