From splashy dives to upscale classics (and everything in between) — our favorite spots to grab a drink
Cocktail Destination, Spirits Selection
An agave spirits collection of more than 300 bottles is reason enough to visit Mosto. A generous list of tequila and mezcal cocktails, neighboring Tacolicious restaurant's guac and queso and laid back, urban cantina feel confirm it's a top tequila bar.
741 Valencia, SF. www.mostosf.com
OCCIDENTAL CIGAR BAR
Financial District, $–$$
Since 2001, cozy Occidental is a rare smoking bar and our pick for top cigar bar. Besides a strong spirits list heavy on the whiskies, its historical connection goes back to the 1860s in the space's former incarnation as the Occidental Hotel, where Professor Jerry Thomas, who helped established bartending as a craft, is purported to have once bartended. Woodcut etchings of his groundbreaking Bon Vivants Companion cocktail book line smoke-tinged walls of the bar where you can bring in your own cigars or choose from the humidor collection.
471 Pine, SF. (415) 834-0485, www.occidentalcigarclub.com
Wine Sanctuary, Memorable Atmosphere
Press Club's subterranean setting right off Market Street downtown is an unusual one. With a vast space in which to find a quiet corner or celebrate with a crowd, consider it the chic lounge of wine bars, serving a changing list of international wines, flights (like "Italy vs. USA"), beers, and bites, featuring monthly vintners and brewers with focused tastings. It's a central, notable place to meet up with out-of-towners and colleagues.
20 Yerba Buena Lane, SF. (415) 744-5000, www.pressclubsf.com
Cocktail Destination, Gourmet Bites
A drink and dining stalwart from the early days when Brooke Arthur ran the small bar, to current manager Jeff Lyon's touch, which has kept the intimate bar in Range's restaurant on the drink lover's map. Spirit-heavy or seasonal drinks (like an Ojo del Tigre with blood orange and tequila) are delicious and impeccably crafted.
842 Valencia, SF. (415) 282-8283
Hayes Valley, $$
Cocktail Destination, Gourmet Bites, Memorable Atmosphere
Besides being one of the top new restaurants in the city (and country), Rich Table opened with a short but sharp cocktail list showcasing herbs and spirits. Once Jason "Buffalo" LoGrasso was brought on as bar manager, the cocktail list, including unforgettable dessert cocktails, grew, becoming a special drink outpost... if you can snag a seat at the bar.
199 Gough, SF. (415) 355-9085, www.richtablesf.com
Cocktail Destination, Memorable Atmosphere
From the Bon Vivants, this urban cantina-meets-roadhouse pours cheap, canned beers and skillful cocktails, heavy on tequila and whiskey, under glistening walls and stripper poles. A live music stage and cowhide confirm the roadhouse vibe, while the bar livens up a seedy stretch of Market Street.
1108 Market, SF.
Outer Mission, $–$$
Memorable Atmosphere, Music