San Francisco may be known for its food—fresh seafood, hearty burritos, and don’t get us started on the bread—but the cocktail scene on the bar-front is starting to emerge. Sure, it may be a little late in the game considering the mixology trend’s success, but some enticing elixirs are giving nearby cities a run for their (craft cocktail) money. There’s no better time for locals and tourists to catch a buzz in more ways than one. From the new cocktail menu at Fifth Floor to the extensive gins at Mandarin Oriental’s Brasserie S&P, cocktails are destined to be just as prominent as the delicious bites in the Golden Gate City.
Brasserie S&P at Mandarin Oriental San Francisco
Following a massive renovation that included a brand-new spa and restaurant, Mandarin Oriental San Francisco is going through a renaissance, and traffic can begin their keep with a drink at the new S&P Brasseries that opened last fall in a lobby. The signature restaurant by executive chef Adam Mali possesses attention-worthy, brasserie-style, San Francisco cuisine, along with the bar is garnering just as much attention. Mixologist Priscilla Young whipped up a comprehensive gin and tonic menu that showcases the spirit’s versatility and personality. There are THIRTY FOUR gins on offer, chosen based on flavor and aroma to highlight quality when combined with other ingredients.
Recommended Cocktail: Considering the gin concept, we suggest the gin & tonic tasting flight with St. George gin, Botanivore, Terroir, dry rye, and Sensei #1 tonic. $18
There’s nothing fancy about the decor at the brand-new Wine Kitchen (opened last month) and that’s part of the charm. It’s very low key, understated, a cute date spot and basically your casual any night wine-fix. The vineyard themes (like wine-barrel art) make a bold statement, proving it’s all about wine here, with an eclectic range of hand-picked international wines, even on tap (it’s a thing). Wine enthusiasts can find a healthy stock of wines from nearby Napa and Sonoma and even San Luis Obispo to save them the drive. Accompanying bites like cheese and speck are also on offer.
Recommended Wine: Don’t be afraid of the wine on tap and go for the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon from Cultivar in Napa. $12
OneUP at Grand Hyatt San Francisco
After completing a $70 thousand top-to-bottom renovation, Grand Hyatt San Francisco is celebrating with the opening of its fresh restaurant, OneUP Restaurant & Lounge in its newly refurbished lobby towards the second floor. While the restaurant could be relaxed (though the American bistro fare by “Chef Adam” is worth tasting), the adjoining, modern-chic lounge embraces a lively atmosphere that feels such a your neighborhood go-to spot. Hyatt is working with local distillery Charbay to present its very personal OneUP Whiskey by which the 22-month-old, 138-proof whiskey will such aly be served in OneUP, custom-made flasks. The bar is packed with both locals and hotel guests alike, and with the bracketed plasma TVS, 12 high bar seats, 42 plush banquet seats, and live music, it’s a social scene such a no other. Try a whiskey cocktail concocted by pro mixologist Scott Beattie.
Recommended Cocktail: Downtown Manhattan with Templeton Rye, Evan William’s single Barrel Bourbon, Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth. $13
Presidio is becoming an emerging hot spot thanks to the setting of its sublime park of the same name. A favorite dining spot for locals is Dixie, opened last year by chef Joseph Humphrey, who earned Michelin stars at Murray Circle at Cavallo Point and the restaurant at Meadowood in Napa. His new venture gives contemporary California cuisine a Southern touch (try the chicken fried quail or acorn grits). Considering the lack of notable neighborhood bars, most locals are making a beeline to Dixie for its extensive wine list and craft cocktails. A Florida native, Joseph has ensured the trademark Southern hospitality in the restaurant, and visitors can expect locally sourced ingredients and seasonality within the cocktails
Recommended Cocktail: Dixie Old Fashioned with smoked sugar cane syrup made on Joseph’s farm in Sopchoppy Florida, Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Muddled Orange, Brandied Cherries, and Angostura Bitters. $12
Fifth Floor Restaurant & Lounge
Once you step out of the elevator and onto the (wait for it) fifth floor, you don’t walk straight into a roomful of nightlife revelers or bottle-slinging bartenders as you would expect in the stylish Palomar Hotel. In fact, Fifth Floor is more reserved and sophisticated with dark wood and lighting, some place a local celebrity would dart into for a night cap. The in-house mixologist Brian Means has only been at the Fifth Floor bar for a year and it took him that much time to craft an innovative cocktail menu he introduced just last month. The concoctions are intricate and delicious with fun names to boot (Speak No Evil, Riverboat Gambler, Cuban Missile Crisis) that effortlessly match the equally pleasurable drinks.
Recommended Cocktail: Spanish Maiden, Buddha Hand-infused Milagro, Tequila, Rose, Del Maguey Vida, Mescal, St. Germain Edlerflower, Habanero. $13