Bars, cocktails, favorite bottles, and the facts you need to be an educated sipper
Newly-opened Tradition offers booths (called "snugs") with themes like New Orleans, Pre-Prohibition, and Scotland, each boasting vintage ads, signs, and barware in keeping with the motif. An artistic menu is likewise themed around each category. One theme is exotic/tiki, that page bearing mostly rum-based cocktails. For a unique rum experience, there's an extensive house-blended and barrel-aged spirits program, including all manner of spirits finished in house barrels, like Flor de Caña rum in pinot noir or sweet vermouth barrels, imparting unexpected wine notes to the rum.
441 Jones, SF. (415) 474-2284, www.tradbar.com.
Though not a rum bar per se, Bar Agricole, with its impressive modern design and a bar flanked with dramatic photography, is named after French Caribbean rums and boasts a strong rum selection. Agricole perfects classic rum drinks — chat with bartenders about which version of the classic daiquiri you might want to try, they're well-versed on each. Imbibe lesser-seen classics like a Martinique Crusta from Charles Baker's Gentleman's Companion, this particular recipe dating back to 1840 of agricole, lemon, bitters, and Maraska, a Croatian maraschino liqueur.
355 11th St., SF. (415) 355-9400, www.baragricole.com.
For dive bar rum and cheap rum punch, try Hobson's Choice in Haight-Ashbury (www.hobsonschoice.com). Other notable tiki bars include the transporting East Bay classics, Forbidden Island (www.forbiddenislandalameda.com) and Oakland's Conga Lounge (www.congolounge.com), not to mention out-of-the-way Tiki Haven (www.tikihavensf.com) in SF's Outer Sunset.
BEST RUM COCKTAILS THIS YEAR
Brand new to the bar's fall menu is frothy, light beer and rum beauty, Jasper's Rum Shaker (a cheeky reference to the 1990s rap song, "Rump Shaker"): Bacardi 8 Rum, Shipyard Pumpkin Ale, lime, pumpkin syrup, cream, egg white, and orange flower water recall a classic Ramos Gin Fizz. Also new to the menu is bartender Taylor White's Haymaker, which allows Appleton Reserve Rum to shine in a fabulously musty, spiced way with Combier orange liqueur, chai tea infused Punt Mes vermouth, Angostura, and orange bitters.
401 Taylor, SF. (415) 775-7979, www.jasperscornertap.com
An after dinner sipper this summer was AQ's Senegal at Dusk ($10), a mixture of Lemon Hart rum, coffee and a blissful cardamom banana cream. At Tradition, Kona Kope stands out from an entire book of cocktails. Sweet Diplomatico Reserva Exclusiva rum and barrel-aged spiced rums intermingle with coffee syrup and a touch of coconut cream, evoking lively coffee-tinged tropical breezes. For a milky rum stunner, try Smuggler's Cove's Jamaican Milk Punch, reminiscent of traditional Brandy Milk Punch, smooth, frothy, spiced.
1085 Mission, SF. (415) 341-9000, www.aq-sf.com
The Lower Haight joint might not be a rum bar, but Maven's Nauti' Mermaid is a winner, mixing Jamaican rum, lime, orange, coconut, and housemade hazelnut orgeat, substituting orgeat's typical almond base for hazelnuts.
598 Haight, SF. (415) 829-7982, www.maven-sf.com