Summer splashdown

Hot, hot cocktails for cool city nights

Ra and I have never gotten along. As the sun god of the Egyptians, he says people should walk sideways with one hand up and the other down. I say people should walk forward, with hands by their sides. He says Jews should be slaves. I say Jews should be rich and powerful. He says door should be spelled soldier-falcon-cat ... Things between us really came to a head over the whole Library of Alexandria fire mess, though. Words were exchanged, perhaps regrettably. Since then he hasn't exactly been overly generous with his golden rays — to me or any other San Franciscan. It's not that he's completely shut us off. He teases us with just enough warmth, only to freeze us out once we thankfully shed our jackets. It's his way of forcing us to be grateful to him. Jerk.

Now it's June. Children are shrieking, lovers are lying, teenagers are doing drugs, and everyone and everything looks like a potential mate. It's the time of year when I get the most fed up with Ra's bait-and-switch shit. My psychologist suggests that the best way to deal with a bully is just to ignore him. I'm paying her to be right, and even if her tactic doesn't get us more summer light, it may keep us from getting so flustered. Another thing that might help: a few drinks, ones that offer a little more than great flavor and good liquor. Even if we can't have an actual summer, we can always down a few cocktails like those below, to which any eager marketing exec would attach the phrase "fun in the sun."


Polk-Nob bar Rye is well known for its Honey Delight, a cocktail that mixes gin and bitters with honey and tangerine and orange juices and that reportedly tastes like Sunny Delight. Putting so much effort into something that tastes like Sunny D makes little sense to me, so I opt for the similarly juicy, rum-laden Santiago Sun. This drink has the same gritty sweetness that makes mojitos and caipirinhas so popular. But some of us get a little embarrassed ordering post-trendy mos and caips aloud these days; this cocktail will help you save face. It's crisp and strong, with a fair share of citrus to keep the rum humble. The pummeled kumquats nestled at the bottom of the drink are perfect for nibbling on while you sit in Rye's ultra-urban lounge pretending you're Ernest Hemingway during one of those tempestuous Cuban summers.

Rye, 688 Geary, SF. (415) 474-4448


Hit Potrero Hill's Lingba Lounge on the right night, and you're in for a dance treat. Hit it on the wrong one, and you'll be stuck in an empty, sleeked-out bar with uncomfortable furniture. On either occasion, though, there's no reason to get stumped by Lingba's menu of neo-island cocktails. Simply dive into the Pat Pong Punch, a mixture of bourbon and fresh tamarind and pineapple juices. This cocktail is great for its simplicity: the bourbon gets soaked in the sweetness but isn't taken under. When the juices have washed away, the oaky bourbon is left resting easily on the tongue. On nights when you require something a little tackier — a little tikier — order the Shipwreck, a drink that comes in a coconut, or the Bowl of Monkeys, a drink that's served ablaze. The price of a Bowl of Monkeys includes a Polaroid of the experience, so you should probably wait until your friends from Burlingame arrive before ordering it.

Lingba Lounge, 1469 18th St., SF. (415) 355-0001,


Remember the part in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas where Hunter S. Thompson says he was "drinking Singapore Slings with mescal on the side"? You might think such a cool line would have led to a proliferation of this lovely traditional drink. Yet slings in this city are rare. When I ordered one at the Hotel Utah recently, the bartender said he couldn't make one because he didn't have simple syrup.

Also from this author

  • San Francisco Whiskyfest

    Tastings and tutorials, served straight up

  • Building the bomb

    Explosive local cocktails

  • The JonBenet Ramsey

    A vigorous, pounding cocktail