Superlist no. 807

Pick your poison
S.F. savors the flavor of infused vodkas.

By Matthew Shechmeister


Infused vodkas at Nova. Photo by Mirissa Neff.
SAN FRANCISCO IS experiencing a certified craze for infused vodka, with a variety of options to meet most tastes. You can find tangy concoctions of chile and jalapeño, mouth-watering melon, delicate blends of lavender and rose petal, and many more. Strike a pose at one of these chic spots and feel the cool flavors flow through you. And if you go a bit overboard, a Bloody Mary with an eye-opening infusion of cinnamon, ginger, or pepperoncini is your balm for Sunday morning.

Andalu Some say Korean soju is "rice vodka"; it's a little like sake, but distilled instead of fermented. Savor the delicate elixir infused with orange, ginger, cantaloupe, or vanilla; be sure to try the orange vodka cosmo. 3198 16th St. (415) 621-2211.

Aziza It takes several months to infuse each batch of vodka with the likes of preserved Meyer lemons and vinegar-rosemary syrup. Time is running out for blood orange cosmos, but now that it's rhubarb season, look for the Rhubarb Sparkler mixed with lime, rum, vanilla bean, and black peppercorn ($9). 5800 Geary. (415) 752-2222.

Azul What goes with cucumber vodka? Pineapple rum, of course. Both are featured here. 1 Tillman Pl. (415) 362-9750.

Boulevard A drink with a dash of ambience can be found at this swanky restaurant's bar. Stroll the avenues of its apple-infused vodka in either a green apple martini or a Washington apple martini ($7.75). 1 Mission. (415) 543-6084.

Chaya Brasserie The Chaya Vitamin V cocktail, made with pineapple-infused vodka ($9), has been a regular feature for 15 years. 132 Embarcadero. (415) 777-8688.

Elite Café House-made jalapeño vodka is the backbone of the Cajun martini ($7), served with a spicy jalapeño-stuffed olive. 2049 Fillmore. (415) 346-8668.

Levende Lounge Lychee, honeydew melon, pear and vanilla, pepperoncini and jalapeño, and strawberry are just a few of the essences found in this venue's doctored-up vodkas. For a delectable dessert drink, try the La Fresa with muddled strawberries and strawberry vodka, or spice things up with a peppery pepperoncini-and-jalapeño Bloody Mary. 1710 Mission. (415) 864-5585.

Madrone Lounge Its extensive menu includes ginger, cucumber, pineapple, mixed-berry, cran-apple, apricot, pear, espresso, and tomato-basil vodkas, all made with fresh ingredients. Taste the Bambootini, a vicious concoction of cucumber vodka, sake, ginger vodka, and pineapple juice ($8). 500 Divisadero. (415) 241-0202.

Maroc Stimulate your senses with a cinnamon-infused vodka or a vodka perfumed with rose petals. Stagger in for Maroc's signature Moroccan Bloody Mary, or for $7 infused cocktails at happy hour. 725 Haight. (415) 387-8845.

Millennium Restaurant The menu changes seasonally, but current infusions include fig and pear vodkas and also pear brandy and blood orange tequila. 580 Geary (in the Savoy Hotel). (415) 345-3900.

Nova Fresno chile, honey and lavender, cucumber, star fruit, pineapple, and vanilla vodkas await your consumption just two blocks from SBC Park. Expect the nectar to be pouring postgame. 555 Second St. (415) 543-2282.

Restaurant Azie Try the lemon-ginger drop for $9, a must-taste featuring a house vodka infused with lemon and ginger root. 825 Folsom. (415) 538-0918.

Street The wide selection here includes power-packed vodkas infused with cranberry, fig, apricot, sour cherry and pepper, pineapple with slivers of red jalapeño, cucumber, and a hot 'n' heavy jalapeño-habanero. 2141 Polk. (415) 775-1055.

Thanh Long This beachside Sunset crab restaurant offers vodkas infused with pineapple and ginger or pineapple and lychee (both $8). If you're feeling rich, add Thanh Long's signature roast crab with a side of garlic noodles ($45). 4101 Judah, (415) 665-1146.

Voda This venue is the mother lode of infused vodka, with nearly 10 distinct blends on hand. Its infusions include apricot, banana, chocolate mint, caramel, lychee, bubblegum, mango, peach, watermelon, and rose, most flavored from candy. Sample several; shots are just $6. 56 Belden Pl. (415) 677-9242.