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Friday, January 27, 2012

San Francisco's Top 10 Cocktail Bars

Posted By on Fri, Jan 27, 2012 at 11:15 AM

click to enlarge Bar Agricole's moonraker: Now that's a beaut. - BITTERMELLON/FLICKR
  • bittermellon/Flickr
  • Bar Agricole's moonraker: Now that's a beaut.

In the last few years, finding a bad drink in San Francisco has become harder than finding a good one. In nearly every neighborhood you'll find a bar filled with fresh juices, high-quality spirits, and a talented bartender conducting their craft. Having already covered the top 10 dive bars, now it's time for our picks of 10 bars that are moving the local cocktail culture forward, one drink at a time.

click to enlarge Alembic is the place for those who like choice. - BITTERMELLON/FLICKR
  • bittermellon/Flickr
  • Alembic is the place for those who like choice.

10. The Alembic, 725 Haight (at Schrader).

This Upper Haight bar seems continuously filled with intriguing mix of folks, all drawn to avant-garde cocktails like the Southern Exposure (Junipero gin, celery juice, mint, lime), a tasty twist on a Southside (a gin mojito, yo). Show up on the last Sunday of the month, when the bar replaces the usual menus with copies of Harry Craddock's Savoy Cocktail Book, an 800-plus-recipe tome by the patron saint of the cocktail revival. Don't worry -- book expert Erik Ellestad, who's made every drink on those pages, is on hand to guide you to new favorites.

9. Bar Agricole, 355 11th St. (at Folsom).

Few in San Francisco have directly improved and influenced the Bay Area bartending scene as much as Thad Vogler and Eric Johnson of Bar Agricole. Nothing behind their bar escapes careful consideration, from the ice (five different kinds) to the spirits (most local and biodynamic). With juices and produce coming from local farms, the drinks are flawless, perfectly measured, unadulterated libations like the Ti Punch (rhum agricole, lime, cane syrup).

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Lou Bustamante


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