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The Five Best New Drinking Establishments of 2017 - By pkane - December 27, 2017 - SF Weekly
SF Weekly

The Five Best New Drinking Establishments of 2017

The Riddler Photo by Wes Rowe

$13 cocktail bars and their thousand Boulevardier variations are officially everywhere now, but only two of our favorite bars of 2017 are in the Mission — and neither of them is just a bar. What a year! Here, in no particular order, are the standouts, which cover a great many forms of alcohol intake.

The Kon-Tiki
A tiki bar is a joy forever, and Oakland’s The Kon-Tiki updates the wonderful silliness of a fruit-forward ode to undiscovered Polynesian islands without stomping on anyone’s multicultural toes. Hawker Fare alum Christ (pronounced “krisst”) Aivaliotis took over the Longitude space and infused his riffs on the classics with small-batch liqueurs, plus there’s a papaya slaw and a Crab Rangoon dip with wonton chips. Instead of finding herself tossed into Kilauea, the Virgin is the one who makes the sacrifice. (It involves mezcal and pineapple gum.)
347 14th St., Oakland, 510-823-2332 or thekon-tikioakland.com

The Riddler
Hayes Valley has a lovely wine bar in Birba, and as of this January, it also has a Champagne bar named for the consolidation of sediment prior to removal from the bottle. The compact, perennially packed Riddler is a project by P.R. maven Jen Pelka, and it runs from highbrow to lowbrow, from Gonet-Medeville to cham-bong, free popcorn to bumps of fancy caviar. There’s even Brunch-ish, a weekend morning repast. And this New Year’s Eve, Pelka will saber a salmanazar, or nine-liter bottle of bubbles, symbolically decapitating a terrible year.
528 Laguna St., No phone, theriddlersf.com

Charmaine’s
This one is simple: Rooftop venues, like waterfront venues, usually charge top dollar for mediocrity. Charmaine’s, several floors above Mid-Market’s Hotel Proper, charges top dollar for excellence. Opening just as we changed the clocks back was a stroke of unfortunate luck, but trust us: When the weather is nice and the sun sets after 6 p.m., this is going to be the place to negotiate your record contract over a Fifi the Flea (Tequila Ocho Plata, Ancho Reyes, Ancho Verde, grapefruit, honey, vanilla, lime, and smoked salt). Above all else, the view of Market Street from under the heatlamps is killer.
Atop the Proper Hotel, 1100 Market St., 628-895-2055 or properhotel.com

Over Proof
It requires a bit of explanation, so bear with us. Upstairs and in the back of 16th Street’s ABV is a two-seatings-per-night bar-within-a-bar called Over Proof that has existed all year as four temporary, consecutive incarnations that revolved around particular spirits: rum, whiskey, gin-and-sherry, and mezcal or tequila. (The final one, Lagrimas, runs through late February.) From the decor to the pairings, chef Collin Hilton and sous chef Nick Salazar have consistently drummed up the most inventive spot in the Mission. Even at its most cerebral, Over Proof had fun, and knowing that it will soon wind down forever and become something else entirely made us realize it’s all a friendly rivalry with the ever-changing Trick Dog.
Inside ABV, 3174 16th St., no phone, overproofsf.com

Almanac Taproom
We’re cheating twice with this one: It technically opened on Dec. 30, 2016, and it’s also a proper restaurant. But farm-to-barrel Almanac Beer Co. is Almanac Taproom’s progenitor, and everything in this Mission spot is so beer-oriented that this felt like the better category. (Have you had the beer brunch with queso fundido fries and a Barbary Coast, an imperial stout made with Sightglass Coffee?) Having nabbed Justin Wright, formerly the chef of Mason Pacific, proprietors Jesse Friedman and Damian Fagan found a wine guy to propel their sour-and-IPA-dominated operation forward. We could drink that Nectarine Cobbler, a blonde ale aged with stone fruit and spices, all day, every day.
2704 24th St., 415-932-6531 or almanacbeer.com