You’ve driven by Zeki’s, on California and Leavenworth, a million times. But did you know it’s one of SF’s coziest bars? Burnished dark wood, dusky lighting and a roaring fireplace. Weeknights, stop in for a whiskey, and enjoy some tranquility (weekends can be a bit, shall we say, festive).
1319 California St., 415-928-0677, zekisbar.com
Do dessert wine
Perfect for the holidays is Rosenblum Black Muscat, a thick, viscous beauty that smells of candied cherries, blackberries and cinnamon. Chill it ever so slightly and serve with a plate of good cheese.
$13 per half bottle at K&L Wines, 638 Fourth St.,415-896-1734, klwines.com
Rent, don’t buy
Be it cocktail or wine glasses for your holiday party, don’t buy: Rent. It’s easier and less expensive. Abbey Party Rents makes it a no-brainer. They deliver and pick up, and you can send the glasses back unwashed.
Buy the best bubbly
We are lucky to have one of the best Champagne selections, not just in California, but in the country, in the humble but jam-packed D&M on Fillmore. From rarities like Cristal Rosé in magnum ($1,470) to inexpensive local delicacies like Domaine Carneros 2005 Brut ($20), this shop’s got all the bubbles anyone could need.
415-346-1325, 2200 Fillmore St., dandm.com
Always have wine on hand. William Cross Wine Merchant keeps a fantastic selection of wines under $15, rigorously selected from all over the world, from Hungary to New Zealand. A case or two of good wine here won’t set you back and tastes more expensively than it is.
2253 Polk St., 415-346-1314
Show up with something local
It’s always meaningful to bring a delicious spirit with a local flair to a dinner party. Gift a bottle of Germain-Robin Apple Brandy from Mendocino. Made from heirloom apple varieties from the Anderson Valley, it’s the most complex and delicious apple spirit in the country.
$62 at K&L Wines, 638 Fourth St., 415-896-1734, klwines.com
Give the right thing
For your spirit-loving friend, give something unique. The go-to shop is Cask, laden with small-batch bourbons, hard-to-find scotches, and artisanal gins. Try a bottle of spicy Thomas H. Handy Rye Whiskey ($72) or smooth and soothing Rhum J.M. Rhum Vieux from Martinique ($113).
17 Third St., 415-281-6486, caskstore.com
Pair perfectly with crab
What to sip while you crack into a Dungeness? Without question, a delicious German Riesling. Its acidity and citrus punch are like squeezing a lemon over the rich crab meat. The best place to buy German wine in the country is at Dee Vine Wines. The 2007 Von Hövel Scharzhoflberger Kabinett ($21) is a sure thing.
Pier 19, 415-398-3838, dvw.com
Take on your hangover
Barmistress Brooke Arthur suggests: “Water, cold shower, strong iced coffee, breakfast at Laszlo (Bloody Mary, fritatta, brown-sugar smoked bacon). Finish with a glass of Champagne and a shot of tequila.”
2526 Mission St., 415, 401-0810, laszlobar.com