San Francisco residents might love an early morning run across the Golden Gate or a hike out to Stinson Beach but don’t let that fact fool you: this is also a city with a deep affinity for a stiff drink. Classic cocktail bars specialize in everything from perfect margaritas to award-worthy craft cocktails. But there’s also pretty much always a handful of newcomers entering the scene with fresh menus and stylish spaces. Here you’ll find the most exciting and interesting places in San Francisco to knock back a drink — whether your beverage of choice means a funky wine, a rare sake, or a solid cocktail.Read More
15 New Bars to Check Out in San Francisco Right Now
This city has something for every kind of drinker from cocktails and beer to wine
The team behind hit wine bars Bodega in North Beach and Key Klub in Lower Nob Hill has taken their talents to Union Street with the opening of their newest project Céleste. It’s another wine bar, of course, this time moving into the former West Coast Wine & Cheese space. Alongside a list that veers between funky, naturally produced selections from the New World and Old World and California standards, there’s a menu of Greek-inspired bites such as dips and grilled skewers.
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Holbrook House, the uber-luxurious new restaurant and bar on the ground floor of the One Sansome building, serves coffee by day and a full food menu at night — but it also hopes to be a destination for post-work drinks. Case in point: some tables come equipped with switches to summon either a Champagne or a martini cart. Customers can then choose from a selection of gins and vermouths, a rotating cast of bitters, and house-made garnishes.
Downtown San Francisco might be struggling to rebound from the pandemic, but Dawn Club, a stunning new bar and jazz club could be a sign that some sectors are thriving. Open since May, the bar comes from prolific local nightlife company Future Bars, who invested in reviving the historic Monadnock building on Market Street. Swing through – though you’d be wise to make a reservation — for regular live music and an extensive selection of whiskey including high-end options such as Pappy Van Winkle, if you’re into that.
New SoMa bar the Harlequin brings big Gatsby vibes to the historic Mosser Building on 4th Street between Market and Mission. Bar pro Phil Chen, also behind Members Only and the Alchemist, aimed to set the backdrop for a 1920s-style party, one where customers can enjoy a pizza or Thai shrimp pasta with a cocktail. The bar shakes up some of the usual suspects including an espresso martini and an ube colada, but there are also drinks unique to the Harlequin such as the Rhinestone Cowboy made with Jack Daniels, Meletti amaro, sasparilla, lemon, and Ceylon tea.
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Felix is the underground cocktail spot associated with hit Vietnamese restaurant Bodega. Owner Matt Ho flipped the basement into a bar where classic cocktails come prepared with Asian spirits, the Chronicle reports. If you didn’t have dinner upstairs, there’s also a food menu below including options such as tom yum-flavored Chex mix and shrimp chips.
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You can certainly have a full dinner of Mexican and Persian fusion fare at this dark and moody SoMa lounge, but the swanky atmosphere also makes it a great destination for happy hour or post-dinner drinks. The cocktail list includes drinks such as the Chilosa, which blends St. George green chile vodka, cilantro, lime, coconut, and gol gav zaban, a purple flower used in Persian teas. Pair a drink with sharable plates including chips and dips or mini skewers.
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The SoMa late-night dining and drinking scene got a welcome boost with the early March opening of Dragon Horse Bar, which is staying open until 1 a.m. six nights a week. The bar comes from Mins Group and offers both an Asian ingredient-focused cocktail list and a short menu of sushi and skewers. The drinks include options such as the Smoke Umami, incorporating Kavalan Taiwanese whiskey fat washed with salty vanilla butter and maitake mushrooms, banana oleo saccharum, and Chinese five-spice bitters.
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Enterprise Brewing Co
A pair of longtime beer industry professionals Cameron McDonald and Jesse Hayter joined forces to revive a historic San Francisco beer company this summer. Enterprise Brewing, which originally operated during the city’s beer-soaked heyday more than a century ago, moved into the former Cellarmaker space in SoMa in July and is now selling cold pints — including the California common ale brewed in collaboration with the Anchor Brewing Union. Keep an eye on the brewery’s Instagram for the schedule of pop-ups from local favorites including Rize Up and Outta Sight Pizza.
Absinthe Brasserie & Bar
Absinthe, the stylish French-style bistro in Hayes Valley, celebrates 25 years in business this year with chef Ian Begg rolling out a new menu to mark the occasion. There’s also a fresh cocktail menu to go alongside, and it offers classic drinks with small twists to make them special. For example, the Bent Third combines brandy, rye whiskey, absinthe, green Chartreuse, and watermelon, while the Tone Row marries stonefruit-infused mezcal, amaro, vermouth, and Empirical plum liqueur.
Sluts, the suggestively named wine bar from the team behind Oakland’s Hi Felica, swung open its doors at 1116 Folsom Street in early February. It’s a vibe-y wine bar specializing in natural selections including bottles from Richmond’s Purity Wines and TyTy Wine, Lula, and Everwild. If you want something to eat after swinging around the bar’s stripper pole (yes, really) there’s a menu of “convenience store favorites” like Lean Cuisines, Flaming Hot Cheetos, Cup Noodle, and Lunchables.
There’s another swanky rooftop bar open now in Mission Bay from some of the same folks behind SoMa’s Kaiyo Rooftop. Cavaña pulls inspiration from across Latin America meaning cocktails lean into flavors including hoja santa, papaya, mole spices, and poblano peppers. On the concise food menu, highlights include flaky pastel de carne, two kinds of arepas, and an asado roca — essentially a meat-filled board weighted down with steak and sausages. Make a reservation for heading over.
The Lower Haight’s newest watering hole comes from a foursome of hospitality industry experts who helped grow Nopalito. Now they’ve turned their attention to the corner of Haight and Pierce streets, where they’re serving a menu of lean cocktails intended to straddle the line between being exciting and not too fussy. The list includes the Holy Smoke, a cocktail of Manzanilla sherry, Benedictine, and Ardbeg scotch, as well as the Katana made with Suntory Toki whiskey with Dolin Blanc vermouth and ginger eau de vie. Food comes in the form of bar bites such as peanuts brined and tossed with MSG and mala spice, potato chips dusted in dried seaweed powder and served with a miso onion dip, and a grilled beef salad.
Chris Gaither and Rebecca Fineman, the husband-and-wife Master Sommeliers behind Ungrafted, opened a second project at Thrive City, steps from the Chase Center. The wine bar’s globetrotting menu focuses on bottles produced with sustainable farming practices in mind, while the food selections draw inspiration from the Mediterranean.
If you’re looking for a chic spot for natural wine and well-done bar snacks, then consider Bar Gemini, the new Mission District bar from owners and partners Dominique Henderson and Alex Pomerantz. They also own Gemini Bottle Shop, and Pomerantz is the mind behind Richmond-based natural wine company Subject to Change Wine Co. At this stylish spot, they’re pouring a powerful lineup of natural wines, which can be enjoyed with snacks such as marinated Rancho Gordo gigante bean or a decadent grilled cheese sandwich. Chef Brandon Rice of Michelin-starred Ernest developed the menu.
Sure, a lot of San Francisco restaurants pair food and drinks, but at Liliana cocktail bar in the Mission, there’s now the option for a four-course live fire meal paired with four different cocktails. It’s an extremely exclusive affair with only four bar seats available and the Live Fire Cooking & Cocktails menu on offer only on Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Seatings take place at 6 and 8:30 p.m. and the menu, which will rotate regularly, costs $140 per person. Reservations for Liliana’s new prix fixe menu are now available on Resy.