It's noon on a Saturday — for you, we envision two possible scenarios. One: you're covered in glitter, you smell like a wet poodle, and you're on your way to brunch. Two: you're well-rested after last night's sobering yoga, feeling fly, and on your way to brunch. Hey booze breath, forget the three Advil, coffee, and a Xanax — you know there's no better way to kick a hangover (or forge the path toward one) than to cocktail your way through the early afternoon. And Miss Fresh-As-A-Daisy? Have a drink already. Always helpful, never hurtful, here is our list of the tastiest brunch libations of the moment.
There is a stretch of Market Street that catches us unawares: one minute you're surrounded by city, the next you're in front of a magical garden filled with people downing bloody marys and eating eggs benedict. Ah, Café Flore, your lush patio makes us feel guilty for not drinking at breakfast. But we resolve not to live our life in shame. The ginger lemon drop, a Café Flore original, is the perfect way to kick off a day of leisure. Ginger liqueur and fresh lemon juice will have you feeling like you're drinking pure, unadulterated sunshine, while the Ketel One vodka buzz reminds you that you're actually just drunk.
2298 Market, SF. (415) 621-8579, www.cafeflore.com
You're already on a mission to brunch, why not indulge in a meal amid the ocean breezes? Salty winds plus brunch treats and cocktails equals living large at The Ramp, which sits all the way at the end of Dogpatch's Mariposa Street, perched on the pier of a boatyard. Grab a table inside the funky dining room or outside on the water and make sure to order one of the fresh mint mojitos. Two sips in, and you'll be feeling like a brunch pirate. Day drunk ahoy!
855 Terry Francois, SF. (415) 621-2378, www.ramprestaurant.com
The standard Alexander cocktail is made with gin, chocolate liqueur, and cream, a mature take on chocolate milk. The spiced Alexander at Axis Café, a lowkey but upscale café and art gallery at the base of Potrero Hill, is served hot and spiked with soju — great by itself or with one of the cafe's whole wheat pancake and poached cranberry plates. A lesser-known brunch beverage, yes, but it pairs way better with waffles than a tequila shot. Like an old-fashioned hot cocoa, Axis' is sweet, creamy, and warm — perfect for the seats by the joint's roaring fireplace.
1201 Eighth St., SF. (415) 437-2947, www.axis-cafe.com
This sleek SoMa restaurant is known in some circles as the Chez Panisse of cocktails, so it's no wonder that its brunch offerings include libations worth writing home about, once you've sobered up. One standout is the fog cutter, a complex citrus drink made with pisco, rum, gin, sherry, citrus juice, and orgeat (almond syrup) served on the rocks and with a taste that's similar to a mai tai. Planning on catching up with your correspondence later that day? We suggest you stick to one, for clarity's sake.
355 11th St., SF. (415) 355-9400, www.baragricole.com
While it's true that you can build your own bloody mary in the comfort of your own home, doing it at Market and Church Street's comfiest brunch spot is much more exciting. Home puts the world at your fingertips: pickled veggies, olives, and over 15 kinds of hot sauce. This, friends, is the art of taking bloody mary by the horns.
2100 Market, SF. (415) 503-0333, www.home-sf.com
This downtown Oakland breakfast spot has the brunch drink for when you're looking to kick off your free day with some heat. As all those who have ventured south of the border will recall, the michelada is a bloody mary gone Mexican, the dreaded red beers (lager and tomato juice) of your college days gone festive. Crisp Corona, lime, and Cock-A-Doodle's house bloody mary mix await you, served in a huge salt-and-chile-rimmed glass that's ready to baila contigo.
719 Washington, Oakl. (510) 465-5400 www.cockadoodlecafe.com
The Buena Vista's Irish coffee story is frequently repeated by a certain faction of Bay Area folks. It is said, usually after the storyteller has downed a few, that this Fisherman's Wharf bar was the first to perfect the drink on this side of the Atlantic. The Buena Vista's Irish coffee is a proprietary mix of Irish whiskey, hot joe, and frothy cream — and although a friend of ours once wisely told us never to mix our uppers with our downers, to her we say: welcome to brunch drinks.
2765 Hyde, SF. (415) 474-5044 www.thebuenavista.com