Dear Eater SF,
I read something interesting in the Punch email from December 28, 2022: “What Drink Trends Should Disappear in 2023?” The writers agreed that mini cocktails should be here to stay. I’d never heard of this before, but I like the idea. I enjoy cocktails and minis would be welcome, a good thing for those of us who like to try different things without overdoing it. Do you know if there are any bars or restaurants in the East Bay or San Francisco that offer this? If so, I’d love to hear about them.
Hey Tiny Drinker,
I’m right there with you, the idea of a mini cocktail is appealing for many reasons, many of which have been outlined by this other Punch article. I, too, would like to sample cocktails at a much more reasonable pace, so when I set out to answer this question, I was personally invested in finding a good assortment of bars serving tiny cocktails.
Yet, as my research found, for the most part, it seems the mini cocktail trend hasn’t quite become a Thing in the Bay Area. Despite some texts and DMs to bartenders and in-the-know folks, most couldn’t think of any instances when they’ve spied smaller drinks on local bar menus. The only good news is that may change soon. One friend said a San Francisco bar is currently working on a mini cocktail that’s yet to make its debut. Another, intrigued by the premise, promised to chat with their team to see if they could come up with one for an upcoming menu. So it seems this question may be a bit ahead of the wave of mini cocktails set to splash down in the Bay Area.
But I do have two options for you.
In San Francisco, one spot to check out is For the Record in the Marina. This newish bar offers drinks called Cheekies, which are named this way because they are “just enough to fill your cheek,” bartender Janice Bailon explained at the bar’s opening. They have three options, the Bad Girl, Low Rider, and Afternoon Delight, all of which lean more towards stylish 50/50s than full-on mini cocktails — but are also much classier than a traditional shot.
Meanwhile at Bar Nonnina, the small rooftop bar atop the Inner Sunset location of Fiorella, there’s a flight of three mini cocktails available for $28. It’s a way to get a taste of the bar’s range, as Fiorella’s co-founder explained back at Bar Nonnina’s opening in May. However, the flight options may vary slightly, as it changes with the drink menu. For now, the bar is serving Il Fantasma, a tequila drink with tarragon amaro and bitters; Galileo’s Gaze, with a cranberry-infused gin, Gentian aperitif, and Bianco vermouth; and L’ombra, made with a mandorla grappa, elderflower, lavender rosemary syrup, and chocolate bitters.
And while not entirely in the realm of mini cocktails, I was still impressed with these small (but cute and mighty) “Bonus Tile” shots at Oakland’s Viridian and thought they might be worth mentioning. Fashioned in the shape of a mahjong tile, this Jell-O-esque shot is made with rum, mango, grapefruit, makrut lime, and almond. Alas, the other drinks are full-sized at Viridian, but I did what I could. Happy mini cocktail hunting — and drinking!
If you know of any local bars serving mini cocktails, let us know. We’d love to add more suggestions. Email me at Dianne@eater.com.