The Big Drink: 50 Most Iconic Cocktails in San Francisco 2022
In the making: Holy Water's After the Gold Rush, composed of bourbon, pineapple gum syrup, apricot, and lime. (Marc Fiorito, Gamma Nine Photography)

The Big Drink: 50 Most Iconic Cocktails in San Francisco 2022


Much has changed since we last published our list of the 50 most iconic cocktails in San Francisco, back in 2019 before the pandemic struck.

Some of SF's most beloved bars closed permanently (RIP Bar Agricole, The Saratoga), some remain shuttered temporarily (Slanted Door, P.C.H.), and several new ones have opened (Bar Iris, Mothership).

The city and this list, which represents the most notable adult beverages it has to offer, have experienced a big shuffle, but that’s all the more reason to get out on the town to explore new venues and revisit the old standards you’ve likely been missing over the last couple years.

Our selection (in alphabetical order by cocktail name below) reflects the flavor and format trends we’re seeing in the bars. Rum drinks like the Red + Blue at Kona’s Street Market represent sophisticated escapism. Mezcal, in cocktails like Casements’ Peas for Bees, is threatening to overtake bourbon and gin as the city’s most popular mixing spirit. And that “low and no” trend you keep hearing about is everywhere, in the forms of spritzes, cobblers, gazoz, and mocktails made with sherry, amaro, sparkling wine, and non-alcoholic spirits.

Yep, the landscape has changed, so get out there and get reacquainted. Here's a handy map of the bars to help you out. Cheers, friends.

Holy Water's After the Gold Rush.(Marc Fiorito, Gamma Nine Photography)

1. 1934 Zombie at The Tonga Room. It may leave your head swimming with overproof rum, lime, grapefruit, cinnamon, falernum, absinthe, and bitters. // Fairmont Hotel, 950 Mason St. (Nob Hill),

2. 20th Century at Stookey's Club Moderne. Throw back this throwback with gin, quinine wine, creme de cacao, and lemon. // 895 Bush St. (TenderNob),

3. After the Gold Rush at Holy Water. Confess over the holy quaternity of bourbon, pineapple gum syrup, apricot, and lime. (Get the recipe.) // 309 Cortland Ave. (Bernal Heights),

4. Bacchus Old Fashioned at Schroeder’s. Pair it with a pretzel: German grape brandy, rye, bitters, sugar, absinthe // 240 Front St (FiDi),

5. Bloodhound at Bloodhound. Release in the hounds: gin or vodka, grapefruit, lime, Campari, and prosecco. // 1145 Folson St (SoMa),

6. Bloody Mary at Zeitgeist. It needs no introduction: vodka, tomato juice, spices, and pickled garnishes. // 199 Valencia St. (Mission),

7. Breakfast Negroni at Wildhawk. Go cuckoo for this Cocoa Puff–infused negroni with gin, Campari, vermouth, and chocolate salt bitters. // 3464 19th St. (Mission),

8. California Cooler at Horsefeather. Gin and (celery) juice! Plus lime, thyme, sauvignon blanc, horseradish, and sparkling wine. // 528 Divisadero (NoPa),

9. Cherry Bounce at Comstock Saloon. Get some pep in your step with bourbon, cherry brandy, lemon, bitters, and Champagne. // 155 Columbus Ave. (North Beach),

10. Chinese Mai Tai at Li Po Cocktail Lounge. It was locally famous, then it got Bourdained: rum, Chinese liqueur, and pineapple. // 916 Grant Ave. (Chinatown),

Bar Iris' Faithful Fool. (@equal_parts_cocktail)

11. Clear Bloody Mary at Gibson. Fussy, fancy, and fabulous: tomato water, oak-aged vodka, shochu, shoyu, fish sauce, and shichimi togarashi. // 111 Mason St. (Tenderloin),

12. Coastal Martini at Chezchez. We all float on with manzanilla sherry, aquavit, blanc vermouth. // 584 Valencia St. (Mission),

13. Czechs and Balances at The Sea Star. Czech it out: bourbon, amaro, lemon, honey, and allspice // 2289 3rd St (Dogpatch),

14. Dublin Honey at The Ice Cream Bar. You’ve earned this: Guinness, caramelized honey ice cream, Valrhona chocolate syrup, and port. // 815 Cole St. (Cole Valley),

15. Faithful Fool at Bar Iris. How do you like these (granny smith) apples with calvados, yuzu sake, soda water, and sweet woodruff. // 2310 Polk St (Russian Hill),

16. Gazoz at Estiatorio Ornos. Seize the seasonal selection of fortified wine with fermented fruit, sparkling water, and an herb garden’s worth of garnish. // 252 California St (FiDi),

17. Greyhound’s Tooth at Spruce. Classing up the classic: vodka, Benedictine, grapefruit, lemon, grapefruit bitters. // 3640 Sacramento St. (Presidio Heights),

18. Hat in the Ring at Junior. Throw your, you know: gin, bitter aperitif, grapefruit, and bitters. // 2545 24th St. (Mission),

19. Holy Basil at Wildseed. It's your plant-based party: green chili vodka, lime, and cucumber basil shrub. // 2000 Union St. (Cow Hollow),

20. House Campari Soda at Buddy. Open your palate, open your mind with bitter vermouth, cherry quinine liqueur, aperitivo wine, orange bitters, and soda. // 3115 22nd St. (Mission),

True Laurel's Mai O Mai.(Marc Fiorito, Gamma Nine Photography)

21. Irish Coffee at Buena Vista Cafe. The OG, with Irish whiskey, coffee, sugar, and cream. (Pst: We also have the recipe.) // 2765 Hyde St. (Fisherman's Wharf),

22. I’ve Grown to Love Life Too Much at The Interval at Long Now. Choose life in the form of cognac, spiced pear liqueur, and creme de cacao with a shot of sparkling wine on the side. // 2 Marina Blvd. (Fort Mason),

23. Jamaican Zombie at Zombie Village. Wake the dead with rum, grapefruit, lime, mango, Doc's Spice #2, and Scotch bonnet chilis. // 441 Jones St. (Tenderloin),

24. Kentucky Buck at Rickhouse. Invented here, and world famous: strawberry-infused bourbon, lemon, and ginger beer. // 246 Kearny St. (FiDi),

25. La Copa Verde at Padrecito. It’s easy being green with mezcal, cilantro, chipotle powder, and lime. // 901 Cole St. (Cole Valley),

26. Last Rites at Last Rites. Your first, but not the last: rum, passion fruit, molasses, and spice mix. // 718 14th St. (Duboce Triangle),

27. Lost Resort at Lost Resort. The Last Word on the matter: gin, Chartreuse, hibiscus, and lemon. // 2736 20th St. (Mission),

28. Mai O Mai at True Laurel. Clarified and elevated: rum, lime, pistachio orgeat, curaçao, and coffee-rum float. // 753 Alabama St. (Mission),

29. Manhattan at The Progress. When in doubt, add dairy: black butter bourbon, sweet vermouth, and bitters. // 1525 Fillmore St. (Western Addition),

30. Mezcal Madre at Ocean Beach Café. All smoke and no firewater: non-alcoholic tequila, smoky tea mixer, agave syrup, and lime. // 734 La Playa St. (Outer Richmond),

The Snug's Prickly Pear.(Marc Fiorito, Gamma Nine Photography)

31. Mezcal Paloma at Nopalito. More than smoke and mirrors: mezcal, artichoke liqueur, grapefruit, and soda. // 1224 9th Ave. (Inner Sunset),

32. Paloma Slushy at The Lark Bar. Go frozen and fizzy with tequila, lime, grapefruit, guava syrup, and Sprite. // 29 Third St. (SoMa),

33. Peas for Bees at Casements. Easy peasy: mezcal, pea and strawberry citric acid shrub, and lime. // 2351 Mission St (Mission),

34. Pineapple Sherry at ABV. The best and worst kept secret menu item. // 3174 16th St. (Mission),

35. Pisco Apricot Tropicale at Absinthe Brasserie & Bar. Juicy! Pisco, apricot, pineapple gum, and lemon bitters. // 398 Hayes St (Hayes Valley),

36. Prickly Pear at The Snug. Spice things up with mezcal, nopales, prickly pear, amaro, lime, and habanero. // 2301 Fillmore St. (Pacific Heights),

37. Quarantine Order at Pagan Idol. Keep it to yourself: bitters, rum, cinnamon, passion fruit, grapefruit, and lime. // 375 Bush St. (FiDi),

38. Red + Blue at Kona’s Street Market. Whip it good with rum, sherry, ube coconut cream, citrus, and salted jackfruit whip. // 32 3rd St. (SoMa),

39. Red Window Cobbler at Red Window. Oh, sherry!...and tangelo, peach, fig, and two kids of bitters; available in size huge. // 500 Columbus Ave. (North Beach),

40. Screen Test at The Madrigal. Tom kha gai in a glass: dark rum, kumquat liquor, basil, coconut milk, Thai chili, and lime. // 100 Van Ness Ave (Civic Center),

The Smuggler's Rum Barrel at Smuggler's Cove)(Jasmin Van T)

41. Seafoam Spritz at Anina. Bouquet all day: elderflower, aperitif wine, lime, prosecco, and lemongrass. // 482 Hayes St. (Hayes Valley),

42. SF Yacht Club at 25 Lusk. A social drinker: vodka, grapefruit, cucumber, lemon, lime, and mint. // 25 Lusk St. (SoMa),

43. Sidecar at Bix. Stay classy with cognac, curacao, and lime. // 56 Gold St. (Jackson Square),

44. Sometimes Old Fashioned at Cold Drinks. Peking duck fat–infused Scotch makes this a true original, with rye, lemon, pepper, mushroom, and bitters. // China Live, 644 Broadway (North Beach),

45. Smuggler's Rum Barrel at Smuggler's Cove. A secret mix with rum, juice, and spice. (When the supply chain accommodates again, you can buy the barrel it's served in to keep as a souvenir.) // 650 Gough St. (Hayes Valley),

46. The Spritzzz at The Detour. Let's get spritzfaced: Aperol, sparkling rosé, lemon, and soda. // 2200A Market St. (Castro),

47. Ten Forward at Mothership. Turn loose the juice: amaro, passionfruit, lemon, pea flower-infused vodka, and fennel, // 3152 Mission St. (Bernal Heights),

48. Tommy's Margarita at Tommy's Mexican Restaurant. Zen and the art of agave: tequila, lime, and agave syrup; rocks, no salt. // 5929 Geary Blvd. (Outer Richmond),

49. Violet Skies at Violet's. Purple passion: mezcal, gin, strawberry brandy, coconut, cremé de violette, and lemon. // 2301 Clement St. (Outer Richmond),

50. White Cap Martini at White Cap. Briny it on with gin and seaweed-infused dry vermouth. // 3608 Taraval St. (Outer Sunset),

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