Yo-Ho-Ho and a $13 Cocktail: Opening Night at Smuggler's Cove a Rum-Soaked Taste of Excess

C. Alburger
Downstairs at Hayes Valley's brand-new tiki bar: A blur of insiders and rum geeks.
​All three floors of Smuggler's Cove -- Hayes Valley's new ode to tiki libations without high-fructose corn syrup -- were packed to the gills at last night's opening. Owner Martin Cate said an eager throng of some 30 insiders and rum disciples showed up as the bar opened at 5 p.m., placing them into a slammed frenzy right from the start. "We're busier than any of our pre-opening preview nights," he said.

C. Alburger
Veteran mixologist Jackie Patterson concocting one of the elaborate drinks.
​Sipping on a $13 Zombie (rum, lime, grapefruit, spices, Herbsaint) made by bartender Dominic Venegas confirmed allegations that SC is unlike most tiki bars. The quality of ingredients in these complex rum masterpieces is unprecedented in most of the U.S. Balk at the price tag, but know that this drink has the power and of two-in-one. You'll find a first glimpse of the menu's contents ― an encyclopedic account of rum through the ages ― and a sample of the bar's Exotic Cocktails From Legendary Tiki Bars after the jump.

Last night, cocktail geeks gushed over Cate's concoctions, while those who simply wanted to grab a drink and chill complained they didn't want to read a witty paragraph about their beverage before ordering. Others made jokes about the looong wait at the bar. But generally, the crowd proved San Francisco's tolerance when it's time to hold out for an expertly shaken, muddled, or, in this case, blended boozy concoction. (Makes us wonder where this stalwart resistance goes in the face of a temperature drop ― shiver me timbers!)

Some of Cate's drinks include upwards of eight ingredients ― not to mention requisite blending ― placing them firmly into bartender bad-guy territory. But Venegas and downstairs bar pal Jackie Patterson seemed to offer up their grumbles to the tiki gods. Cate mentioned Tuesday will be the regular night for these two. So if you want to try some of the best tiki drinks in the country prepared by some of San Francisco's most skilled bartenders, Tuesday's your night to dip into the SC sauce.

Smuggler's Cove 650 Gough (at McAllister), 869-1900; open daily 5 p.m.-close

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C. Alburger
Bring your glasses.

C. Alburger
Come thirsty and leave with an education -- even if you didn't want one.

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