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Eleven Great Old Fashioneds To Drink In San Francisco

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Spirit, sugar, bitters, and water, the Old Fashioned is cocktail in its most classic form. The basic formula here leaves lots of room for versatility: from bourbon to rye, simple syrup to Demerara, and several different choices for bitters. Helping you muddle through it all, here is a map of Eleven Great Old Fashioneds To Drink In San Francisco, which shows the broad range of what this drink has to offer. As always, if you have a favorite Old Fashioned to add to the list, please do so in the trusty comments section below.


—Eva Frye

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

House of Shields

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House Of Shield's Eric Passetti explains a few differences in Old Fashioneds: "Purists will tell you they need to be made with Rye, while old-timers request muddled fruit." He bridges the gap with sweet but strong Buffalo Trace Bourbon, gum syrup for body, and Angostura and orange bitters. Passetti meets the garnishes in the middle too, choosing an orange slice and Italian brandied cherries.

83 Proof

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Chris Barry, co-owner and bartender at 83 Proof, loves classic, spirit-driven cocktails. So the Old Fashioned here is built around Elijah Craig 12 year Bourbon, adorned plainly with simple syrup and Angostura bitters. Partner Marc Goldfine adds his philosophy that Old Fashioneds are classics for a reason: "focus on the fundamentals, then you will always have something delicious."

Bar Agricole

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"The Old Fashioned is such a simple drink: a balance of sweet and bitter. A big part of ours is using really nice sweetening components, and putting a lot of time and energy into making our own bitters," says Bar Agricole's Thad Vogler. Try his Bourbon Old Fashioned, with homemade stone fruit bitters, or a Rye Gin version with orange and aromatic bitters. Vogler serves them both in Hario glasses from Japan.

The Alembic

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Daniel Hyatt at Alembic thinks the Old Fashioned is a "humble" cocktail, one that's "just a nice way to dress up a decent glass of whiskey." Or rather, 10-year single barrel Bourbon that Hyatt hand-selects from the Evan William's distillery. "I tend to look for something a tad spicy, not too oaky." He'll take superfine sugar, a generous amount of Angostura bitters, a tiny splash of water to dissolve, and some chunks of ice. A wide swath of lemon peel over the top gives it a nice citrusy scent.

Twenty Five Lusk

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At 25 Lusk, Bar Manager Zack Hirsekorn makes an Old Fashioned with Templeton Rye, gum syrup for viscosity, and a few dashes of Angostura and orange bitters. He says he likes Templeton because "it's a classic rye that's been produced in the states for nearly a century, and its clean flavor allows the bitters to shine through."

Two Sisters Bar & Books

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This little bar in Hayes Valley serves up several twists on the classic: a Smoky OldFashioned with maple and McCarthy's Single Malt from Oregon, and the oh-so-popular Chamomile Old Fashioned, with chamomile-infused Old Forester 86 Bourbon and honey syrup. GM Mikha Diaz says she likes it because "the chamomile takes the abrasive edge off of the bourbon and makes it very approachable, while still remaining true to the cocktail's spiritous nature."

Locanda

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To see the diversity of a simple cocktail, try a flight of Old Fashioneds at Locanda. Bar Manager Gabe Lowe serves 3 mini-versions with a different whiskey, swetener, and garnish, each with a dash of orange and Angostura bitters (Rye and Demerara with a lemon twist; Bourbon and maple with an orange twist; Scotch and honey with a grapefruit twist). "Each drink of the flight is balanced and gets the desired point across: simple cocktail, small changes, big difference."

Rickhouse

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In this city of mixology, we've come to expect that reclaimed wood and suspenders go hand-in-hand with a good whiskey selection. At Rickhouse, Dan Stahl likes to go with a spicy rye, Turbinado syrup, and an orange twist. He likes how the richness of the Turbinado balances out the spiciness of the rye, and is all balanced out by that lingering scent of Angostura.

Lolinda

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New Mission restaurant Lolinda's Chris Lane likes to make an Old Fashioned with Old Grand Dad Bourbon, Demerara syrup, and the usual Angostura and orange bitters. He likes Demerara syrup because its molasses-like flavor gives the drink a more "rich, earthy sweetness than you get from a refined sugar." He'll finish it with an orange and lemon twist and a brandied cherry to garnish.

Jasper's Corner Tap & Kitchen

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Kevin Diedrich, bar manager at Jasper's, uses over-proof Rittenhouse 100 for a spicy Old Fashioned. He'll also add 3 types of bitters: Angostura, orange, and a touch of Fee Old Fashioned bitters to round out the cocktail with a hint of baking spice. Dark, unrefined Demerara syrup is his sweetener of choice for darker spirits like rye for depth and richness. It's finished with one large ice cube to chill, but not water down, and is garnished with a lemon and orange twist.

Tradition

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Tradition's Ian Scalzo washes their on-site Bourbon barrels with Angostura bitters for a few days before adding Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon. "This infuses some of that bitters flavor along with the effects of barrel aging (oak, vanilla, tannins, etc.) Then its into the glass with gomme syrup, more Angostura bitters, and a lemon twist. Scalzo keeps the cocktail "clean" and free of muddled fruit.

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House of Shields

House Of Shield's Eric Passetti explains a few differences in Old Fashioneds: "Purists will tell you they need to be made with Rye, while old-timers request muddled fruit." He bridges the gap with sweet but strong Buffalo Trace Bourbon, gum syrup for body, and Angostura and orange bitters. Passetti meets the garnishes in the middle too, choosing an orange slice and Italian brandied cherries.

83 Proof

Chris Barry, co-owner and bartender at 83 Proof, loves classic, spirit-driven cocktails. So the Old Fashioned here is built around Elijah Craig 12 year Bourbon, adorned plainly with simple syrup and Angostura bitters. Partner Marc Goldfine adds his philosophy that Old Fashioneds are classics for a reason: "focus on the fundamentals, then you will always have something delicious."

Bar Agricole

"The Old Fashioned is such a simple drink: a balance of sweet and bitter. A big part of ours is using really nice sweetening components, and putting a lot of time and energy into making our own bitters," says Bar Agricole's Thad Vogler. Try his Bourbon Old Fashioned, with homemade stone fruit bitters, or a Rye Gin version with orange and aromatic bitters. Vogler serves them both in Hario glasses from Japan.

The Alembic

Daniel Hyatt at Alembic thinks the Old Fashioned is a "humble" cocktail, one that's "just a nice way to dress up a decent glass of whiskey." Or rather, 10-year single barrel Bourbon that Hyatt hand-selects from the Evan William's distillery. "I tend to look for something a tad spicy, not too oaky." He'll take superfine sugar, a generous amount of Angostura bitters, a tiny splash of water to dissolve, and some chunks of ice. A wide swath of lemon peel over the top gives it a nice citrusy scent.

Twenty Five Lusk

At 25 Lusk, Bar Manager Zack Hirsekorn makes an Old Fashioned with Templeton Rye, gum syrup for viscosity, and a few dashes of Angostura and orange bitters. He says he likes Templeton because "it's a classic rye that's been produced in the states for nearly a century, and its clean flavor allows the bitters to shine through."

Two Sisters Bar & Books

This little bar in Hayes Valley serves up several twists on the classic: a Smoky OldFashioned with maple and McCarthy's Single Malt from Oregon, and the oh-so-popular Chamomile Old Fashioned, with chamomile-infused Old Forester 86 Bourbon and honey syrup. GM Mikha Diaz says she likes it because "the chamomile takes the abrasive edge off of the bourbon and makes it very approachable, while still remaining true to the cocktail's spiritous nature."

Locanda

To see the diversity of a simple cocktail, try a flight of Old Fashioneds at Locanda. Bar Manager Gabe Lowe serves 3 mini-versions with a different whiskey, swetener, and garnish, each with a dash of orange and Angostura bitters (Rye and Demerara with a lemon twist; Bourbon and maple with an orange twist; Scotch and honey with a grapefruit twist). "Each drink of the flight is balanced and gets the desired point across: simple cocktail, small changes, big difference."

Rickhouse

In this city of mixology, we've come to expect that reclaimed wood and suspenders go hand-in-hand with a good whiskey selection. At Rickhouse, Dan Stahl likes to go with a spicy rye, Turbinado syrup, and an orange twist. He likes how the richness of the Turbinado balances out the spiciness of the rye, and is all balanced out by that lingering scent of Angostura.

Lolinda

New Mission restaurant Lolinda's Chris Lane likes to make an Old Fashioned with Old Grand Dad Bourbon, Demerara syrup, and the usual Angostura and orange bitters. He likes Demerara syrup because its molasses-like flavor gives the drink a more "rich, earthy sweetness than you get from a refined sugar." He'll finish it with an orange and lemon twist and a brandied cherry to garnish.

Jasper's Corner Tap & Kitchen

Kevin Diedrich, bar manager at Jasper's, uses over-proof Rittenhouse 100 for a spicy Old Fashioned. He'll also add 3 types of bitters: Angostura, orange, and a touch of Fee Old Fashioned bitters to round out the cocktail with a hint of baking spice. Dark, unrefined Demerara syrup is his sweetener of choice for darker spirits like rye for depth and richness. It's finished with one large ice cube to chill, but not water down, and is garnished with a lemon and orange twist.

Tradition

Tradition's Ian Scalzo washes their on-site Bourbon barrels with Angostura bitters for a few days before adding Wild Turkey 101 Bourbon. "This infuses some of that bitters flavor along with the effects of barrel aging (oak, vanilla, tannins, etc.) Then its into the glass with gomme syrup, more Angostura bitters, and a lemon twist. Scalzo keeps the cocktail "clean" and free of muddled fruit.

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