San Francisco Has Three Of The World's 50 Best Bars

We all know Trick Dog shakes and stirs the premiere cocktails in all of San Francisco, right?

Wrong. At least that’s what the rankings of The World’s 50 Best Bars from Drinks International’s academy of 400 industry experts believe.

[jump] Smuggler’s Cove actually ranks highest among the trio of San Francisco names, clocking in at 31st. Trick Dog is right behind them at no. 40 and Tommy’s returns to the list, just making the cut at no. 47.

Yeah, very different bars, showing the strength of our diverse drinking scene whether it’s a tequila, a funky concoction, or tiki type of night. What do those bars have in common besides being on this list? These three consistently pour elite cocktails and don’t forget about the hospitality side. They deserve the applause. They are all-around great bars (well, haven't tried a Negroni at Smuggler's or Tommy's before…)

So, how can this truly be a definitive list? It can’t be. Restaurants are hardly scientific to rank. Bars are even more different from bartender to bartender, night to night, drink to drink, unless we order ten drinks from every bartender at every bar. You get the point. This academy does have some real street cred, even with several San Francisco writers and bartenders. The group knows their drinks.

I’ve been to 18 of the 50 bars (I know, you want to be my friend, don’t you?) and have zero problem with any winners except The Broken Shaker in Miami Beach (14th!). I’m still speechless how they always rack up the awards. It’s a decent bar with a friendly staff and passable drinks, but I can name 14 superior bars in San Francisco right this second.

London is the best city anywhere for drinking cocktails, receiving nine nods — including five in the top nine, and the overall winner, Artesian. I’m not sure if the constant rain caused this cocktail strength in London. New York gets two silver medals with eight bars and second-place winning The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog. The U.S. overall has 14 bars. There are bars mentioned from Cyprus, Hamburg, Moscow, Tel Aviv, Puerto Rico, and Dubai. We can’t all agree on this list but we can all agree it’s a great thing when you can get quality cocktails anywhere, even in Cyprus (!).

Should Alembic, Bar Agricole, Comstock, 15 Romolo, ABV, Devil’s Acre, Blackbird, and blah blah fill in the blank be on the list? I wouldn’t argue. Should your favorite dive bar that specializes in vermouth heavy Manhattan pours be on the list? If you say so.

Yes, I believe Trick Dog should be way higher overall. But I’ll live. If there is anything I can say to really defend the list is my story of how a bartender at the sixth-place Baxter Inn in Sydney asked me to say “hi” to two bars in our city when I mentioned where I’m from while visiting Sydney recently. Those bars were, as you’d guess, Trick Dog and Smuggler’s Cove. Even he knew of them. It’s a small, small bar world.

I bet if I ordered a margarita at that bar, it would’ve been the Tommy’s recipe.

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