San Francisco's Top 10 Cocktail Bars

Bar_Agricole_moonraker_Bustamante.jpg
Lou Bustamante
Bar Agricole's moonraker: Now that's a beaut.
​In the last few years, finding a bad drink in San Francisco has become harder than finding a good one. In nearly every neighborhood you'll find a bar filled with fresh juices, high-quality spirits, and a talented bartender conducting their craft. Having already covered the top 10 dive bars, now it's time for our picks of 10 bars that are moving the local cocktail culture forward, one drink at a time.

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bittermellon/Flickr
Alembic is the place for those who like choice.
​10. The Alembic, 725 Haight (at Schrader).
This Upper Haight bar seems continuously filled with intriguing mix of folks, all drawn to avant-garde cocktails like the Southern Exposure (Junipero gin, celery juice, mint, lime), a tasty twist on a Southside (a gin mojito, yo). Show up on the last Sunday of the month, when the bar replaces the usual menus with copies of Harry Craddock's Savoy Cocktail Book, an 800-plus-recipe tome by the patron saint of the cocktail revival. Don't worry -- book expert Erik Ellestad, who's made every drink on those pages, is on hand to guide you to new favorites.

9. Bar Agricole, 355 11th St. (at Folsom).

Few in San Francisco have directly improved and influenced the Bay Area bartending scene as much as Thad Vogler and Eric Johnson of Bar Agricole. Nothing behind their bar escapes careful consideration, from the ice (five different kinds) to the spirits (most local and biodynamic). With juices and produce coming from local farms, the drinks are flawless, perfectly measured, unadulterated libations like the Ti Punch (rhum agricole, lime, cane syrup).


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Jasper's Corner Tap and Kitchen

401 Taylor, San Francisco, CA

Category: Music

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11 comments
charles.oakg4
charles.oakg4

The top of the Mark ,the Mark Hopkins hotel should be on there

BeReal
BeReal

Churchhill, Rickhouse and Cantina should be on this list over Jasper's Corner Tap and Alembic.

Joe
Joe

Must give props to Smuggler's Cove. Was there the other evening with friends, and every drink was stellar.

I particularly liked the very masculine, smooth as cream, "Chadburn." It's the drink I would have at the end of every day, if it wasn't assured of turning me into a lush. 

Vipul
Vipul

what anice bar????????????

makalive45
makalive45

Jasper's Corner Tap is just okay. Should definitely not be even near the top spot. And where is Rickhouse on this list? 

Anon123457758375483
Anon123457758375483

Elixir, Burritt Room, Churchill, Blackbird all come to mind too.....

Joe
Joe

When the Alembic is good, it's very, very good. When it's bad, it's not better. Seems inconsistent enough not to merit a Top 10 rating. 

Nianfong
Nianfong

Why aren't 15 Romolo, Rye, and Cantina on this list?

Lou Bustamante
Lou Bustamante

Those are all great places and if the list was longer I would have included them. It's a testament to the talent in this city that a top ten is not enough to justly capture a snapshot of the best places to drink here.

A few bars didn't make the list because they were too new, and it was challenging to forecast how well they'll develop. Others have had too large a staff turnover to know how they'll evolve, making them tricky candidates. A few just haven't changed their menus enough to argue that they are part of the vanguard, if they aren't offering an experience beyond the cocktails. Finally, some were in the final list, but it had to come down to photo finishes to pare down the list to ten.

Nianfong
Nianfong

Also, Tommy's and the Hideout at Dalva are not in the same class as the others on this list.

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