The first thing you notice when you settle in at Tosca's bar is the lineup of glasses filled with hot chocolate, awaiting their jolt of brandy, but when it's time to fuel up for the night ahead, the cognoscenti opt for the house espresso martini. Freshly brewed espresso from the gorgeous enormous machines at either end of the bar is shaken with Bailey's, Kahlua, vanilla vodka, and ice; strained into a cocktail glass; and topped off with three coal-black coffee beans. The result is rich and creamy as a milkshake but with a brisk, caffeinated kick: the perfect pick-me-up as your protein-starved body flags midway through a long hard night of North Beach barhopping. Tosca is, of course, the neighborhood's grandest old saloon; it's rich with history, polished wood, wrought-iron chandeliers, red leather banquettes, Sinatra and Puccini on the jukebox, and skilled bartenders in crisp white jackets.
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