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A bartender pouring a cocktail Albert Law

The Hottest New Cocktail Bars in San Francisco and Oakland, November 2021

Where to sip the freshest cocktails in the bay

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Welcome back to the cocktail heatmap, where drinkers can expect inventive takes on classic cocktails, unique spirits, garden-inspired ingredients, and all the latest in beverage trends. The pandemic interrupted and complicated many new openings, but bars are finally back, and if there’s one thing San Franciscans require after this past year and a half, it’s a damn good drink.

Some of these spots are also restaurants, but if they have a roomy bar and cocktails of high caliber, they can make the cut. If you’re looking for something a little more established, check out this list of the city’s essential cocktail bars, to which these places might someday graduate. Want to know the city’s hottest restaurants? Head to the aptly named restaurant heatmap.

Health experts consider dining out to be a high-risk activity for the unvaccinated; the latest data about the delta variant indicates that it may pose a low-to-moderate risk for the vaccinated, especially in areas with substantial transmission. The latest CDC guidance is here; find a COVID-19 vaccination site here.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Copas

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2223 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94114

The chief of staff for the Saison group opened a passion project at the end of September. Copas is a new all-day cafe in the Castro, now serving cappuccinos and avocado toast in the morning and sparkling copas cocktails and grilled octopus at night.

Two pink cocktails garnished with watermelon Liz Barclay/Copas

2. Chezchez

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584 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 658-7878
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The Trick Dog team strikes back. Bon Voyage has sadly set sail, but it was replaced with the new Chezchez in August. Which is honestly ideal timing for serving up tinned fish and cool spritz for real San Francisco summer. (Important note: Trick Dog also finally reopened in October, with maybe its most convoluted menu yet, if you want to turn this into a Mission bar crawl.)

A blood Mary from Chezchez Tiago Russo

3. Bar Iris

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2310 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 827-6898
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Bar Iris is the new sister bar just next door to Nisei fine dining restaurant, located in the former La Folie lounge space). It opened October 14 with fun riffs on high balls and furikake popcorn, starring lots of Japanese whiskey and spirits in the cocktails. 

A yellow-colored cocktail in a tall glass with a dehydrated citrus wheel garnish. @equal_parts_cocktail

4. LUNA American Brasserie

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694 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 737-0908
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Luna took over Luna Park on Valencia, bringing roast chicken and cocktails to the long-vacant space. Partner Tony Marcell and chef Scott Quinn both came through Wayfare Tavern, and they’re into meaty brasserie fare paired with classic cocktails with a twist, including a “new” fashioned with bourbon and apricot liqueur, and a vesper spritz that’s almost a lighter martini.

Cocktail at Luna Patricia Chang

5. Le Fantastique

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22 Franklin St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 432-7888
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The Bird Dog team will finally open their upscale seafood slash wine bar on October 22. Le Fantastique is spinning caviar eclairs, luxe bubbles, and vintage vinyl into Hayes Valley.

6. Sushi Sato

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1122 Post St
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 851-8830
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The Mins group (Tamashisoul, Sushi Hon) debuted its biggest project yet: Sushi Sato opened in November, and it’s only the first of three new Japanese restaurants in one triple combined space in the Tenderloin. Sushi Sato offers affordable tastings in a warm minimalist space, and best of all, it has a full bar pouring more than 80 different types of whiskey and cocktails infused with Japanese ingredients, from black and green teas to shiso leaves and peppers.

7. Buddy

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3115 22nd St
San Francisco, CA 94110

Buddy is a friendly new neighborhood bar that opened in the Mission in November. It’s from a crew of industry veterans Alvaro Rojas (Elda), Nicolas Torres (True Laurel), Nora Furst (Uma Casa), and Claire Sprouse (Hunky Dory in Brooklyn), and the cocktails are expertly crafted, featuring wine, vermouth, and sherry. Plus, the natural wine list is popping off with bubbles, pinks, and oranges. Chef Sean Thomas (Blue Plate) also debuted a fun menu, starring a serious looking fried mortadella “sammy.”  

A cocktail next to a turntable Albert Law

8. La Paloma

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332 Golden Gate Ave
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 570-2595
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Drinks are up at the La Cocina Municipal Marketplace. La Paloma is the new cocktail bar within the food hall, and it’s powered by women: Cocktails from an award-winning female bartender, specifically paired with food offerings from female entrepreneurs, and starring ingredients from female producers. It opened with a short list of tequila and rum drinks on October 15, but watch Instagram for rotating pop-ups and happy hours.

Emilio Salehi

9. La Bande at SF Proper Hotel

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1100 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 735-7777
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La Bande, that gorgeous green triangular space at the tip of the Proper Hotel, is reopening as a gin-soaked tapas bar on September 21. Pull up a barstool for grilled squid, tomato toast, and gin and tonics.

Tapas plates and cocktails at La Bande La Bande

10. Persona

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685 Sutter St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 400-4598
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A trio of industry veterans has opened a subterranean party hideout in the Tenderloin. Persona bar opened in August, and is now serving intriguing cocktails in an underground space inspired by erotica cinema.

Dark neon entrance to Persona bar Nikki Ritcher/Persona

11. Empress by Boon

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838 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 757-0728
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The Empress of China reopened as Empress by Boon in June, welcoming guests back into the historic banquet hall with sweeping views of Chinatown. The main draw is the full tasting menu experience from chef Ho Chee Boon (Hakkasan), but the bar and lounge area are beautiful. Bar manager Emily Parian is shaking a Blue Rose rum cocktail with a touch of rose and tint of aqua from curacao; and a Nanjing Cocktail with rye washed in duck fat, sweetened with plum, and spiced with Sichuan bitters.

Empress by Boon Patricia Chang

12. Thriller Social Club

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504 4th St
San Francisco, CA 94107

Thriller Social Club is a massive new arcade bar that smashed open at the end of October, betting big on the return of tech personalities to SoMa. It boasts two levels and three bars, both arcade games and carnival games, a Skee-Ball champion ruling eight lanes, and “the most expensive golf simulator in the world,” so they say. Oh, and craft cocktails and buttered lobster rolls, of course. Barman Sean Doolan from the Westwood team is crafting the cocktails, so expect a lot more than the arcade beer.

Cocktail at Thriller Social Club Jonathan Fong

13. Traveler at 25 Lusk

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25 Lusk St
San Francisco, CA 94107

In addition to the whole rooftop scene, 25 Lusk also opened a new bar on the ground floor in August. Traveler aims to whisk drinkers away with rotating menus inspired by different destinations, starting with tlayuda and tequila from Mexico

A cocktail topped with edible flowers from the new Traveler bar at 25 Lusk Anne-ClaireThieulon/Traveler

14. Tribune

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401 13th St
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 285-6499
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Tribune is a new brasserie within the Tribune building that once housed the eponymous newspaper. Opening its doors in August, it brought mid-century style to those historic digs, and a booze-friendly menu, pairing twists on classic cocktails with trout amandine and steak au poivre.

A spread of plates at Tribune in Oakland Adahlia Cole

15. Palmetto

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1900 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 817-4002
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Fans of the Kon-Tiki were thrilled when Palmetto finally thundered open in May 2020, pandemic be damned. The tropical cocktail bar and steakhouse is pastel-colored rum-and-ribeye dream, and the team has been strict about enforcing mask rules and asking for proof of vaccination, so diners can feast with a little more peace of mind.

Palmetto Tarik Kazaleh

16. Sobre Mesa

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1618 Franklin St
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 858-7544
Visit Website

Star chef Nelson German of Alamar seafood restaurant opened the new Sobre Mesa cocktail lounge only nine days before the pandemic shut down the bay. But the bar reopened this March after a year, and is now finally serving Afro-Latino drinks and dishes, including the eponymous Sobre Mesa with light rum, dark rum, mamajuana, and citrus; there’s also a Zombie Reviver with gin, sherry, passionfruit, and a wash of coconut oil and spritz of absinthe.  

The Sobre Mesa, a take on a Dominican Mamajuana Thomas Kuoh

17. Friends & Family

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468 25th St
Oakland, CA 94612
(510) 225-0469
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Blake Cole (Hopscotch, Hot House pop-up) and Kimberly Rosselle (Trick Dog, Bon Voyage) opened Friends & Family for to-go cocktails in April 2020, but now drinkers can wander back through the light and airy space in Uptown Oakland. The very reasonably priced cocktails arrive in vintage glassware, and there are fun snacks in the form of marinated beans, house pickles, and fancy grilled cheese. 

18. Low Bar

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2300 Webster St
Oakland, CA 94612

Chef-and-bartender buddies Matt Meyer and Daniel Paez finally opened Low Bar in February after many pandemic delays. The Chicano-owned bar features agave cocktails, quesabirria tacos, and a glorious Scotch egg rolled in chorizo, still crispy on the outside, but jammy in the center.

19. Snail Bar

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4935 Shattuck Ave
Oakland, CA 94609
(510) 879-7678
Visit Website

Snail Bar is a petit natural wine bar and bottle shop that popped open in Temescal in July. Come for the natty wine, but stay for the escargots stuffed with kumquats and miso cashew butter, as well as other seasonal market-sourced snacks. 

1. Copas

2223 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114
Two pink cocktails garnished with watermelon Liz Barclay/Copas

The chief of staff for the Saison group opened a passion project at the end of September. Copas is a new all-day cafe in the Castro, now serving cappuccinos and avocado toast in the morning and sparkling copas cocktails and grilled octopus at night.

2223 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94114

2. Chezchez

584 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110
A blood Mary from Chezchez Tiago Russo

The Trick Dog team strikes back. Bon Voyage has sadly set sail, but it was replaced with the new Chezchez in August. Which is honestly ideal timing for serving up tinned fish and cool spritz for real San Francisco summer. (Important note: Trick Dog also finally reopened in October, with maybe its most convoluted menu yet, if you want to turn this into a Mission bar crawl.)

584 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110

3. Bar Iris

2310 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109
A yellow-colored cocktail in a tall glass with a dehydrated citrus wheel garnish. @equal_parts_cocktail

Bar Iris is the new sister bar just next door to Nisei fine dining restaurant, located in the former La Folie lounge space). It opened October 14 with fun riffs on high balls and furikake popcorn, starring lots of Japanese whiskey and spirits in the cocktails. 

2310 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94109

4. LUNA American Brasserie

694 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110
Cocktail at Luna Patricia Chang

Luna took over Luna Park on Valencia, bringing roast chicken and cocktails to the long-vacant space. Partner Tony Marcell and chef Scott Quinn both came through Wayfare Tavern, and they’re into meaty brasserie fare paired with classic cocktails with a twist, including a “new” fashioned with bourbon and apricot liqueur, and a vesper spritz that’s almost a lighter martini.

694 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110

5. Le Fantastique

22 Franklin St, San Francisco, CA 94102

The Bird Dog team will finally open their upscale seafood slash wine bar on October 22. Le Fantastique is spinning caviar eclairs, luxe bubbles, and vintage vinyl into Hayes Valley.

22 Franklin St
San Francisco, CA 94102

6. Sushi Sato

1122 Post St, San Francisco, CA 94109

The Mins group (Tamashisoul, Sushi Hon) debuted its biggest project yet: Sushi Sato opened in November, and it’s only the first of three new Japanese restaurants in one triple combined space in the Tenderloin. Sushi Sato offers affordable tastings in a warm minimalist space, and best of all, it has a full bar pouring more than 80 different types of whiskey and cocktails infused with Japanese ingredients, from black and green teas to shiso leaves and peppers.

1122 Post St
San Francisco, CA 94109

7. Buddy

3115 22nd St, San Francisco, CA 94110
A cocktail next to a turntable Albert Law

Buddy is a friendly new neighborhood bar that opened in the Mission in November. It’s from a crew of industry veterans Alvaro Rojas (Elda), Nicolas Torres (True Laurel), Nora Furst (Uma Casa), and Claire Sprouse (Hunky Dory in Brooklyn), and the cocktails are expertly crafted, featuring wine, vermouth, and sherry. Plus, the natural wine list is popping off with bubbles, pinks, and oranges. Chef Sean Thomas (Blue Plate) also debuted a fun menu, starring a serious looking fried mortadella “sammy.”  

3115 22nd St
San Francisco, CA 94110

8. La Paloma

332 Golden Gate Ave, San Francisco, CA 94102
Emilio Salehi

Drinks are up at the La Cocina Municipal Marketplace. La Paloma is the new cocktail bar within the food hall, and it’s powered by women: Cocktails from an award-winning female bartender, specifically paired with food offerings from female entrepreneurs, and starring ingredients from female producers. It opened with a short list of tequila and rum drinks on October 15, but watch Instagram for rotating pop-ups and happy hours.

332 Golden Gate Ave
San Francisco, CA 94102

9. La Bande at SF Proper Hotel

1100 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Tapas plates and cocktails at La Bande La Bande

La Bande, that gorgeous green triangular space at the tip of the Proper Hotel, is reopening as a gin-soaked tapas bar on September 21. Pull up a barstool for grilled squid, tomato toast, and gin and tonics.

1100 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94102

10. Persona

685 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA 94102
Dark neon entrance to Persona bar Nikki Ritcher/Persona

A trio of industry veterans has opened a subterranean party hideout in the Tenderloin. Persona bar opened in August, and is now serving intriguing cocktails in an underground space inspired by erotica cinema.

685 Sutter St
San Francisco, CA 94102

11. Empress by Boon

838 Grant Ave, San Francisco, CA 94108
Empress by Boon Patricia Chang

The Empress of China reopened as Empress by Boon in June, welcoming guests back into the historic banquet hall with sweeping views of Chinatown. The main draw is the full tasting menu experience from chef Ho Chee Boon (Hakkasan), but the bar and lounge area are beautiful. Bar manager Emily Parian is shaking a Blue Rose rum cocktail with a touch of rose and tint of aqua from curacao; and a Nanjing Cocktail with rye washed in duck fat, sweetened with plum, and spiced with Sichuan bitters.

838 Grant Ave
San Francisco, CA 94108

12. Thriller Social Club

504 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94107
Cocktail at Thriller Social Club Jonathan Fong

Thriller Social Club is a massive new arcade bar that smashed open at the end of October, betting big on the return of tech personalities to SoMa. It boasts two levels and three bars, both arcade games and carnival games, a Skee-Ball champion ruling eight lanes, and “the most expensive golf simulator in the world,” so they say. Oh, and craft cocktails and buttered lobster rolls, of course. Barman Sean Doolan from the Westwood team is crafting the cocktails, so expect a lot more than the arcade beer.

504 4th St
San Francisco, CA 94107

13. Traveler at 25 Lusk

25 Lusk St, San Francisco, CA 94107
A cocktail topped with edible flowers from the new Traveler bar at 25 Lusk Anne-ClaireThieulon/Traveler

In addition to the whole rooftop scene, 25 Lusk also opened a new bar on the ground floor in August. Traveler aims to whisk drinkers away with rotating menus inspired by different destinations, starting with tlayuda and tequila from Mexico

25 Lusk St
San Francisco, CA 94107

14. Tribune

401 13th St, Oakland, CA 94612
A spread of plates at Tribune in Oakland Adahlia Cole

Tribune is a new brasserie within the Tribune building that once housed the eponymous newspaper. Opening its doors in August, it brought mid-century style to those historic digs, and a booze-friendly menu, pairing twists on classic cocktails with trout amandine and steak au poivre.

401 13th St
Oakland, CA 94612

15. Palmetto

1900 Telegraph Ave, Oakland, CA 94612
Palmetto Tarik Kazaleh

Fans of the Kon-Tiki were thrilled when Palmetto finally thundered open in May 2020, pandemic be damned. The tropical cocktail bar and steakhouse is pastel-colored rum-and-ribeye dream, and the team has been strict about enforcing mask rules and asking for proof of vaccination, so diners can feast with a little more peace of mind.

1900 Telegraph Ave
Oakland, CA 94612

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16. Sobre Mesa

1618 Franklin St, Oakland, CA 94612
The Sobre Mesa, a take on a Dominican Mamajuana Thomas Kuoh

Star chef Nelson German of Alamar seafood restaurant opened the new Sobre Mesa cocktail lounge only nine days before the pandemic shut down the bay. But the bar reopened this March after a year, and is now finally serving Afro-Latino drinks and dishes, including the eponymous Sobre Mesa with light rum, dark rum, mamajuana, and citrus; there’s also a Zombie Reviver with gin, sherry, passionfruit, and a wash of coconut oil and spritz of absinthe.  

1618 Franklin St
Oakland, CA 94612

17. Friends & Family

468 25th St, Oakland, CA 94612

Blake Cole (Hopscotch, Hot House pop-up) and Kimberly Rosselle (Trick Dog, Bon Voyage) opened Friends & Family for to-go cocktails in April 2020, but now drinkers can wander back through the light and airy space in Uptown Oakland. The very reasonably priced cocktails arrive in vintage glassware, and there are fun snacks in the form of marinated beans, house pickles, and fancy grilled cheese. 

468 25th St
Oakland, CA 94612

18. Low Bar

2300 Webster St, Oakland, CA 94612

Chef-and-bartender buddies Matt Meyer and Daniel Paez finally opened Low Bar in February after many pandemic delays. The Chicano-owned bar features agave cocktails, quesabirria tacos, and a glorious Scotch egg rolled in chorizo, still crispy on the outside, but jammy in the center.

2300 Webster St
Oakland, CA 94612

19. Snail Bar

4935 Shattuck Ave, Oakland, CA 94609

Snail Bar is a petit natural wine bar and bottle shop that popped open in Temescal in July. Come for the natty wine, but stay for the escargots stuffed with kumquats and miso cashew butter, as well as other seasonal market-sourced snacks. 

4935 Shattuck Ave
Oakland, CA 94609

Related Maps