From splashy dives to upscale classics (and everything in between) — our favorite spots to grab a drink
Part romantic European café, part comfortable neighborhood pub, Fat Angel manages to be dream neighborhood beer and wine bar in one. Above average bar bites, friendly staff, and changing draft beers and wines listed on a large chalkboard under dramatic chandelier ensure you'll want to linger for hours.
1740 O'Farrell, SF. (415) 525-3013 www.fatangelsf.com
Financial District, $$
Cocktail Destination, Gourmet Bites, Memorable Atmosphere
Just about the sexiest bar and setting in the city, Gitane has been strong on spirits collection, wine list, and cocktails from day one, with upscale regional Spanish cuisine making it a real date night. 6 Claude Lane, SF. (415) 788-6686, www.gitanerestaurant.com
Cocktail Destination, Gourmet Bites, Spirits Selection
Undergoing a significant overhaul, Heaven's Dog showcases the cocktail expertise of one of our great barmen, Erik Adkins. The bar at Asian-influenced Heaven's Dog restaurant has been tended by some of SF's top bartenders, most recently supervised by Ethan Terry (of AQ, 15 Romolo, Comstock). One of the best places for classic Charles H. Baker cocktails anywhere, its latest incarnation will focus on original creations alongside Charles Phan's cuisine (of Slanted Door fame).
1148 Mission, SF. (415) 863-6008, www.heavensdog.com
Through longtime Mission favorite Dalva is a hidden back room, The Hideout, a getaway for cocktail geeks who disdain pretension. With guest bartending appearances by local and visiting drink masters, bar staff display an adept hand at elegant but never fussy cocktails, shaken or stirred to loud, classic tunes of the '70s and '80s.
3121 16th St., SF. (415) 252-7740
Memorable Atmosphere, Gourmet Bites
It's a new gay sports bar — a recent shot in Sports Illustrated featuring two men in 49ers jerseys kissing toppled barriers. But why stop there? The vintage '60s gym decor, eclectic atmosphere, and twists on game night bites have upped the sports bar game. And yes, there's a cocktail with Muscle Milk as base.
2247 Market, SF. (415) 551-2500, www.hitopssf.com
HOG & ROCKS
Cocktail Destination, Gourmet Bites
Hog & Rocks has been a popular watering hole for American whiskey and unfussy cocktails lovers, happy over platters of oysters and ham. Once the bar was commandeered by Michael Lazar consulting with Scott Beattie, it became a special place for bracing cask strength Old Fashioneds, or tall rocks refreshers accented by garden fresh and preserved fruits and herbs. Lazar and Beattie (who also put together the drink menu at the new Hi Lo across the street) have made it a casual yet festive cocktail destination.
3431 19th St., SF. (415) 550-8627, www.hogandrocks.com
Hayes Valley, $–$$
Wine Sanctuary, Mellow
Hotel Biron is an intimate, romantic wine bar drawing people to a nondescript alley near busy Market Street for years, featuring monthly rotating local artists in a candlelit, narrow space. Grab a couch or bistro chair with friends in this late night sanctuary for French and Californian wines.