Now that craft cocktails can be found in dive bars, restaurants, and speakeasies alike, menus have looked for more and more ways to stand out. One way some bar managers are catching eyes is by serving cocktail trios — a presentation of not one but three cocktails. "They're time consuming to make, but it's cool to have," said John Codd, bar director at Gaspar Brasserie and former bar manager at the now-closed Coachman, where he served a series of cocktail trios last year. "People would go crazy over them." Here's a trio of places where you can get a trio of cocktails.
662 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94105
Novela, a modern, literary-themed lounge in SoMa, specializes in its punches, which it makes using the 19th-century method of oleo saccharum, or preparing the sugar with citrus peels. The six punches, served on tap, change with the seasons and each recipe pulls from a different major spirit. The House Punch, for instance, is currently Hemingway's "Code Hero," made from three different whiskeys, maraschino cherry liqueur, Pimm's liqueur, earl grey, grapefruit, and lemon. The gin punch, meanwhile, blends gin, the Belgian spirit genever, fresh mango, Chinese five spice, and lemon. While you can purchase each punch by the glass or grab a 32-ounce pitcher to share, the best move is trying all three with a $12 flight.
140 New Montgomery St., San Francisco, CA 94105
A sister restaurant to the Michelined Aziza in the Richmond, Mourad is home to a high-performing kitchen, which helps the bar churn out some unique ingredients like black cardamom syrup, salted pistachio syrup and curry tincture. For an experience that combines the kitchen and bar, new bar manager Anthony Parks has assembled a $27 cocktail trio to showcase three 2.5-ounce servings of his creative originals. The three vibrant cocktails are dramatically served in custom ceramic ramequins on a piece of slate. And the flavors match the bold presentation: The gin-based Curry and Milk is a creamy and nutty concoction of lime juice, lychee milk, salted pistachio syrup, curry tincture from Aziza, and basil. The Peat and Coconut — made from scotch, lemon juice, black cardamon syrup, and coconut liqueur — is at once smoky and refreshing. The last of the trio, the Smoke and Pear, is an earthy sipper made from mezcal, sweet vermouth, spiced pear liqueur, and walnut bitters, garnished with a flamed orange peel.
Wilson and Wilson
505 Jones St., San Francisco, CA 94102
Wilson and Wilson whisks guests away from the busy streets of the Tenderloin and immerses them into a cozy, detective-themed speakeasy within Bourbon and Branch, making it, yes, a speakeasy within a speakeasy. Bartenders take you on a guided tour of three culinary-inspired cocktails for $30, using unique ingredients from their commissary, like coffee syrup and tobacco tincture. Progress from a light and refreshing aperitif to a flavor-dense "main" and finish with a stiff digestif cocktail. Passwords are required to enter; make reservations in advance using the website.