Booze You Can Use

A San Francisco Cocktail Kaleidoscope

Dark, brooding, stiff drinks are what get us through the winter, especially those made with bourbon and rye, and maybe with a Fernet chaser. But now that spring is here, it’s time to set aside the Sazeracs and bust out the fruit and herbs. This week, back at the mothership (New York Mag), they’re featuring 107 cocktails from around New York City arranged by color, as in ROYGBIV. We thought we’d do the same, and show you 25 of the most colorful potent potables San Francisco has to offer, including at least one blue curacao concoction from a certain Tiki bar where they aren’t too proud or too fancy to use blue curacao. Please enjoy this kaleidoscopic bar crawl, and if you’re still just barely buzzed when it’s over, check out parallel slideshows from our friends in Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, and Philly.

Rickhouse246 Kearny Street; 415.398.2827In a shaker, lightly muddle 3 raspberries (or 1 large strawberry) and 3 to 4 basil leaves with 1 oz. lemon juice. Add two ounces gin or vodka, and 3/4 oz. simple syrup. Shake with ice and double-strain into a an old-fashioned glass or tumbler, over ice.
​Wilson & Wilson505 Jones Street; 415.931.7292Combine 1 1/2 oz. cacao-infused Campari (recipe follows), 1 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth, 1/2 oz blood orange syrup (recipe follows), 1/2 oz. lemon juice, and 3/4 oz. orange juice and shake vigorously with ice. Strain over ice in a tall glass, and top with 1 oz. club soda. Cacao-Infused Campari: Combine 1 cup raw cacao nibs with one bottle Campari in a large bowl or sealable container, cover and allow to steep for two to three days. Strain back into Campari bottle for serving. Blood Orange Syrup: Combine 3 cups fresh blood orange juice and 9 tablespoons sugar with 1 1/2 tablespoons grated blood orange peel in a pan over medium heat. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes, or until mixture is reduced by about half. Cover and refrigerate.
Smuggler’s Cove650 Gough Street; 415.869.1900Combine 1 1/2 oz. Appleton Estate reserve rum, 1 oz. spiced hibiscus liqueur (substitute 1 oz. Fruit Lab Crism Hibiscus liqueur and 1 dash Angostura bitters), 1/2 oz. lime juice, and 1/4 oz. simple syrup with ice. Shake and strain over ice in a tall glass. Garnish with a candied hibiscus flower (available at
​Clock Bar335 Powell Street (at the Westin St. Francis); 415.397.9222In a shaker, muddle 3 slices of fresh kiwi with 1/4 oz. lemon juice. Add 1 1/2 oz. Knob Creek bourbon, 3/4 oz. blood orange juice, 1/4 oz. Nocino, 1/4 oz. Amaro Nonino, and 1/8 oz. Benedictine. Shake vigorously with ice, and double-strain over ice in a chilled rocks glass or tumbler. Top with club soda or kiwi soda if available, and garnish with kiwi and brandied cherry.
​Prospect300 Spear Street; 415.247.7770Combine 2 oz. blanco tequila with 1/2 oz. St. Germain, 1/2 oz. strawberry-mint shrub (recipe follows), 1 oz. lime juice, and a splash of orange juice and shake vigorously with ice. Double-strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a mint leaf.Strawberry-Mint Shrub: This recipe comes from local startender Neyah White, formerly of Nopa, hence the name of the cocktail. Combine 2 cups each of cut strawberries, cane sugar, and white wine vinegar with one bunch fresh mint and a palm-full of black peppercorns. Macerate the strawberries into the liquid, stir well, and let sit at room temperature for two weeks or more. Strain well for use in cocktails. Photo: Georg Lester/Georg Lester Photography
Tres130 Townsend Street; 415.227.0500In a shaker, muddle 4 pieces of red bell pepper (cut into thick squares) with 4 slices of cucumber, 3 dashes Angostura bitters, and 1/2 oz. lemon juice. Add 1 1/2 oz. Herradura Reposado, and 3/4 oz. agave nectar. Shake with ice and strain into a tall glass over ice. Top with ginger beer and garnish with a cucumber and a bell pepper slice. Optionally, you can also rim the glass with a mixture of sugar, salt, and crushed red pepper flakes.
​Comstock Saloon155 Columbus Avenue; 415.617.0071Combine 2 oz. bourbon, 3/4 oz. lemon juice, 1/4 oz. simple syrup, and 3/4 oz. juice from a jar of brandied cherries. Add 2 dashes Angostura bitters and shake vigorously with ice. Strain into a cocktail glass over ice and garnish with brandied cherries. [Editor’s Note: Comstock bartender Johnny Raglin relays the story that this cocktail goes back to Colonial America, and perhaps further. It appears among recipes in the collection of Martha Washington, and was a bottled beverage available around her time. It later was revived as a cocktail in the 1940s by a Los Angeles bartender.]
​Michael Mina252 California Street; 415.397.9222Combine 1 1/2 oz. apple-infused gin (recipe follows) with 1 oz. dry Riesling, 1/2 oz. Cocchi Americano, and 1/2 oz. Tempus Fugit Liqueur Violette. Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a coupe glass or dessert wine glass. Garnish with a nasturtium or other edible flower. Apple-Infused Gin: Combine one bottle gin and two sliced apples in a large bowl or sealable container. Cover and let steep for a week or more.
​Hog & Rocks3431 19th Street; 415.550.8627Combine 2 oz. Coruba rum, 2 oz. lemon juice, and 2 oz. passion fruit syrup (recipe follows). Quickly shake together or blend all ingredients and pour over ice in a “hurricane” glass or tall rocks glass. Serve with a paper umbrella turned inside-out.Passion Fruit Syrup: Combine 1 cup simple syrup with 1 cup Funkin passion fruit purée, or similar.
​Burritt Room417 Stockton Street, in the Crescent Hotel; 415.400.0500In a shaker combine 1 3/4 oz. Reposado tequila, 1/2 oz. Aperol, 1/2 oz. Combier, 3/4 oz. grapefruit juice, and 1/2 oz. lemon juice.  Shake vigorously with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a grapefruit peel.
​Locanda557 Valencia Street; 415.863.6800Combine 3/4 oz. bourbon, 3/4 oz. Amaro Nonino, 3/4 oz. Aperol, and 3/4 oz. lemon juice and shake with ice. Strain into a coupe glass.
​Beretta1199 Valencia Street; 415.695.1199Combine 2 oz. tequila, 1 oz. lime juice, 3/4 oz. St. Germain, 3/4 oz. Cointreau, 1/2 oz. grapefruit juice, and 3 dashes Angostura bitters with ice. Shake and strain into a tall glass over ice. Top with 2 oz. soda. Garnish with a grapefruit peel.
​The Alembic1725 Haight Street; 415.666.0822Combine 3/4 oz. London dry gin (like Beefeater), 3/4 oz. yellow chartreuse, and 3 drops of orange flower water. Stir with ice, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Top with 2 oz. sparkling wine (they use Gruet demi-sec), and top with a sprinkle of gold dust (available at pastry supply stores).
​Blackbird2124 Market Street; 415.503.0630Combine 1 1/2 oz. Batavia Arrack rum, 1/2 oz. Dolin dry vermouth, 1 oz. green tea, 1/2 oz. lime juice, and 1 dash Angostura bitters. Shake with ice and strain into a coupe glass. Photo: Georg Lester/Georg Lester Photography
The Hideout3121 16th Street (in back of Dalva); 415.252.7740Combine 1 1/2 oz. Hayman’s Old Tom gin, 3/4 oz. lemon juice, 1/2 oz. simple syrup, and 4 dashes celery bitters, and shake with ice. Put a pinch of salt into the bottom of a lowball glass or tumbler, add ice, and strain cocktail mixture over, topping with 1 oz. soda. Garnish with a lemon twist.
​Bar Agricole355 11th Street; 415.355.9400In a tumbler or old fashioned glass, gently muddle a quarter-sized piece of lime rind with a barspoon of cane syrup from Martinique. Add 2 oz. white rhum agricole, and one large ice cube. Stir, and serve.
​Brick & Bottle55 Tamal Vista Boulevard, Corte Madera; 415.924.3366In a shaker, gently muddle 3 to 4 basil leaves with 3/4 oz. lime juice. Add 1/2 oz. simple syrup and 1 3/4 oz. Plymouth gin, and skake with ice. Double strain into a cocktail glass, garnished with a lime wheel.
​LafittePier 5; 415.839.2134Combine 2 oz. white rum, 1 oz. chartreuse, and 1/2 oz. Pagés Absinthe with ice and stir. Strain into a cocktail glass.
​Range842 Valencia Street; 415.282.8283Combine 2 oz. 209 gin, 1/2 oz. lime juice, 1/2 oz. verjus (or unsweetened white grape juice), and 1 oz. tarragon-mint syrup (recipe follows) with ice, and shake vigorously. Strain into a tumbler over ice.Tarragon-Mint Syrup: In a blender, combine 1 bunch each of tarragon and mint with 1 1/2 cups simple syrup. Adjust flavor to taste with more or less tarragon or syrup. Photo: Brian Smeets/Brian Smeets 2010
​Tonga Room950 Mason Street (in the Fairmont Hotel); 415.772.5278Combine 1 oz. light rum, 1 oz. blue curacao, 2 oz. pineapple juice, and 1 oz. cream of coconut in a shaker with ice. Strain over crushed ice in a tall glass, and garnish with a pineapple slice.[Editor’s Note: While we don’t exactly endorse the blue curacao thing, this rainbow concept kind of necessitated it. And the Tonga Room’s always a good time.]
Cantina580 Sutter Street; 415.398.0195In a shaker, muddle 6 blueberries with 1/2 oz simple syrup. Add 2 oz. Campo de Encanto pisco, 1 oz. lemon juice, and shake with ice. Strain into a tall glass over ice with fresh blueberries as garnish. Top with 2 oz. ginger beer. Photo: Georg Lester/Georg Lester Photography
​Gitane6 Claude Lane; 415.788.6686In a shaker, muddle 5 slices of strawberry with 3 slices of cucumber and 2 mint leaves with 1 oz. Pimm’s No. 1. Add 1 oz. dry red wine, and shake vigorously with ice. Strain into a wine glass or tall glass over ice, and top with ginger beer. Garnish with cucumber slices and a mint sprig.
​Cotogna490 Pacific Avenue; 415.775.8508In a shaker, muddle 4 slices of blood orange. Add 1 oz. mezcal, 1 oz. Carpano Antica, and 1 oz. Leopold Bros. Mountain Blackberry Liqueur. Shake vigorously with ice, and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime twist.
​Zero Zero826 Folsom Street; 415.348.8800Combine 1 1/2 oz. Flor de Cana 4 year rum, 1 oz. blackberry cordial (recipe follows), 3/4 oz. lemon juice, and 1/2 oz. turbinado-sugar-based simple syrup. Shake vigorously over ice and strain into a wine glass, over ice. Top with 3/4 oz. lambrusco wine. Blackberry Cordial: Steep one basket muddled blackberries with 3 cups dark rum and 1 cup black tea for three days to one week. Strain before using.
​Thermidor8 Mint Plaza; 415.896.6500Combine 2 oz. gin, 1/2 oz. lemon juice, and 2 teaspoons maraschino liqueur (such as Luxardo) and shake vigorously with ice. Strain into a coupe glass and float 1/4 oz. creme de violette. Garnish with a lemon twist. Photo: Brian Smeets/Brian Smeets 2010
A San Francisco Cocktail Kaleidoscope