Best Flaming Drinks - 2013
By Tamara Palmer
Cocktails are on fire all over town. It may often be a cheap gimmick to hide the quality of the concoction, but the true showstoppers are the ones that still dazzle long after they're poured and set aflame. At Smuggler's Cove (650 Gough St., 869-1900, SmugglersCoveSF.com), a paradise for Tiki nerds, the icy sweet Top Notch Volcano (pineapple, lime, passion fruit, Maraschino liqueur, and private reserve rum) is intended for four to share, but two often attempt to sink the bowl with extremely tipsy results. It's dramatic enough to demand a special occasion such as a birthday, but there's probably no greater or more flamboyant pick-me-up in town for a bad day at any time of year. One must patiently wait until Christmas time for the Nog O'Mine to emerge at Mission stalwart Elixir (3200 16th St., 552-1633, ElixirSF.com), a house-made eggnog amped up with the choice of Meyer's dark rum, Copas organic añejo tequila, or Sailor Jerry rum, and brought to pyrotechnic stage by lighting up a twist of orange peel. Hayes Valley brasserie Absinthe (398 Hayes St., 551-1590, Absinthe.com) has one of the most page-turning cocktail menus in San Francisco, rife with literary references and provocative ideas, but the most head-turning selection has to be the Spanish Coffee, a lit blend of rum, Kahlua, brandy, cinnamon, and whipped cream. The crowd at the bar always loosens a bit when when it's sparked up.