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Taste These Old Fashioneds In S.F. Now

A solid sampling of some of the best--and most unique--Old Fashioneds in town.

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Old Fashioneds are a tried and true cocktail that have stood the test of time, relying on the simple ingredients of sugar, water, bitters and, of course, spirits. That centuries-old instruction manual leaves loads of room for interpretation, and SF mixologists aren't afraid to veer off the beaten path (think cola syrup, chamomile, bacon or rum) while others opt to master the original. Side note: For November's Give Back the Bird program, Trick Dog, 1760, Smokestack, Elixir (pictured above), and Rye are whipping up their own Old Fashioneds to raise funds for the SF-Marin Food Bank. As always, feel free to add your favorites that may be missing in the comment section below.

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.

1. Two Sisters Bar & Books

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579 Hayes St
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 863-3655
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This tiny Hayes Valley haven brings a feminine touch to the classic 
via its worshipped Chamomile Old Fashioned, where dry chamomile 
flowers are infused in Old Forester 86 Bourbon. The chamomile's meant 
to take the abrasive edge off of the bourbon. The result? An
approachable, aromatic interpretation that's been famous now for 
years.

2. Burritt Room + Tavern

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417 Stockton St.
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 400-0516
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Tucked into the Mystic Hotel, this Union Square lounge is a welcome
 respite from the chaos outside--as is its Old Fashioned. One barkeep
 tells us it's a destination drink that Burritt prides itself on. It's
 also somewhat of a secret; you won't find it on the cocktail menu. The
 standard order includes bourbon, Angostura bitters, a dash of simple
 syrup, orange and lemon peel, with Turbinado sugar sprinkled on top.

3. Blackbird Bar

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2124 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94114
(415) 503-0630
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Many flock to this Duboce Triangle refuge for the Elote Old Fashioned, which will stay on the menu through December. It's been their second most popular cocktail, based on sales, says bartender Matt Grippo. The drink comes with roasted corn infused whiskey, chile de arbol and black strap bitters. The only negative feedback he's gotten is from those who think it's too spicy, thanks the integration of potent Mexican chili pepper. It does have a bit of a kick, he admits.

4. Hops & Hominy

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1 Tillman Pl
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 373-6341
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Now over two years old, this Southern hot spot wedged in the Financial 
District has earned its chops. It's made a few tweaks since opening, 
like deleting the sprig of bacon once sticking out of its smoked-bacon 
Old Fashioned drink special. What's still the same is the 
bacon-infused bourbon you can get inside.

5. Elixir

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3200 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 552-1633
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Elixir proprietor H. Joseph Ehrmann added the Old Fashioned Pilgrim to
 the menu this week to create buzz for November's Give Back the Bird 
charity program, a partnership with Wild Turkey to raise funds for the
 SF-Marin Food Bank. Ingredients include 2 oz of Wild Turkey 101
Kentucky Pilgrim Infusion; .5oz Clover Honey Syrup; two dashes of
orange bitters; orange zest and cocktail cranberry garnish.

6. 1760

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1760 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 359-1212
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Bar Manager Christopher Longoria, also participating in the Give Back 
the Bird program, says his Old Fashioned 17 pops with color and gets 
an added dose of swagger from the Jelenik Fernet. Its marriage with
 Campari gives the cocktail "more viscosity that the classic
 recipe, and adds a fun modern twist," Longoria says. The Wild Turkey
 Rye's lighter body adds to the overall balance, rounded out with 
orange bitters.


7. The Alembic

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1725 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117
(415) 666-0822
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Alembic may be undergoing a big makeover, but what's stayed
 consistently popular is its two types of Old Fashioneds. The Sazerac 
is an ode to the Big Easy, with rye whiskey, peychaud’s bitters from 
New Orleans, a bit of sugar and a glass "rinsed with a green bitter
liquid that shall remain nameless," states the menu. The Bourbon Old
 Fashioned is nothing more than a slug of bourbon on the rocks with a
 couple dashes of bitters, a little sugar and lemon peel to take the
 edge off. On a weekday night by 7pm, bartender Mike Fleury says he had 
already whipped up a few of each.

8. Bar Agricole

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355 11th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 355-9400
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Living up to its 2014 James Beard nomination for outstanding bar
program, Bar Agricole invests the time--and money--to create
outstanding Old Fashioneds. That means making their own bitters (you 
won't find any artificial flavors or colors in sight). The team also incorporates cognac--the original spirit of cognac in the Old Fashioned--which entails making trips every few years to handpick a new cask from France, mixologist Craig Lane says. The "California" version 
of Holland gin comes from St. George Spirits and stars in its Rye Gin 
Old Fashioned. For the cherry effect, Lane swears by the Leopold Bros.
 Maraschino from Colorado. Another detail sometimes overlooked: ice.
 When sister Trou Normand opened this year, the team splurged on a
 Clinebell machine. The Ferrari of ice making rewards drinkers with a
 new flavor profile as the single square-shaped piece melts.

9. Dirty Habit

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12 4th St, 5th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 348-1555
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Since Palomar transformed the Fifth Floor into a sexy oasis this
 summer, the Old Fashioned has been the only cocktail that's stayed on 
the menu this long. The hit relies on a nontraditional Old Fashioned
 spirit (Banks 5 Island Rum), swirled with velvet Falernum, allspice 
dram and angostura bitters. Get it while it lasts; the bartender says 
the Caribbean-inspired cocktail could be about a month away from 
floating off the menu.

10. ¡Chino!

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3198 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 552-5771
Visit Website

This funky Asian eatery gets whimsical with its Old Fashioned,
 throwing in a house made cola syrup that pairs well with its play
mates (bitters and James E. Pepper rye). Bar manager Danny Louie, who 
used to sling drinks at Alembic, let Eater try a separate taste of the 
sinfully sweet syrup. He just won't tell us what's in it.

11. Original Joe's

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601 Union St
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 775-4877
Visit Website
Keeping in line with its name, this longtime legend in North Beach
 sticks to the original roots of the Old Fashioned. Once muddled sugar, 
cherry, orange, Angostura bitters and soda water meet with Woodford 
bourbon, let chemistry do its job and refrain from stirring, instructs 
the bartender; the bubbles are meant to rise by themselves to mix 
flavors together.

12. 15 Romolo

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15 Romolo Pl
San Francisco, CA 94133
(415) 398-1359
Visit Website
This 16-year-old handcrafted cocktail pioneer hidden off of Broadway 
caters to an old-timey crowd (no TVs here), so it's no surprise their
 Old Fashioned stays close to the first recorded recipe. (The first cocktail ever 
defined on paper had sugar, spirits, bitters, and water, notes the 
bartender, pointing to their own paper menu.) Its younger sibling Rye is more of a modern-day risk 
taker, offering gin and rum-based versions.

13. Waterbar

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399 The Embarcadero S
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 284-9922
Visit Website
Waterbar's Bobby Boucher (Buffalo Trace bourbon, Heering cherry 
liqueur, benedictine, orange zest) is named after Adam Sandler’s 
character in the movie Waterboy. Beverage director Steve Izzo uses the 
Heering cherry liqueur instead of the standard Maraschino cherries and 
club soda as a throwback. Heering cherry liqueur--once super popular
 in the 80s and 90s--has since made a comeback (we can't say the same
 about Sandler). The benedictine is there to add a bit of an herbal
 aromatic, he adds.


14. Locanda

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557 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-6800
Visit Website
The $20 Old Fashioned Flight at this upscale Mission eatery is an
 aggressive option for the indecisive or noncommittal. One flight will 
get you three small glasses of a wide variety: rye and demerara; 
bourbon and maple; and scotch and honey. Considering each is a 
one-ounce pour, $6.67 per taste is a deal, says bartender Daniel
 Bishop. On a busy weekend night, he says some 20 orders roll in 
(that's a quick 60 glasses and $400, in case you're counting). FYI:
They do Negroni flights too.

1. Two Sisters Bar & Books

579 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102

This tiny Hayes Valley haven brings a feminine touch to the classic 
via its worshipped Chamomile Old Fashioned, where dry chamomile 
flowers are infused in Old Forester 86 Bourbon. The chamomile's meant 
to take the abrasive edge off of the bourbon. The result? An
approachable, aromatic interpretation that's been famous now for 
years.
579 Hayes St
San Francisco, CA 94102

2. Burritt Room + Tavern

417 Stockton St., San Francisco, CA 94108
Tucked into the Mystic Hotel, this Union Square lounge is a welcome
 respite from the chaos outside--as is its Old Fashioned. One barkeep
 tells us it's a destination drink that Burritt prides itself on. It's
 also somewhat of a secret; you won't find it on the cocktail menu. The
 standard order includes bourbon, Angostura bitters, a dash of simple
 syrup, orange and lemon peel, with Turbinado sugar sprinkled on top.
417 Stockton St.
San Francisco, CA 94108

3. Blackbird Bar

2124 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94114
Many flock to this Duboce Triangle refuge for the Elote Old Fashioned, which will stay on the menu through December. It's been their second most popular cocktail, based on sales, says bartender Matt Grippo. The drink comes with roasted corn infused whiskey, chile de arbol and black strap bitters. The only negative feedback he's gotten is from those who think it's too spicy, thanks the integration of potent Mexican chili pepper. It does have a bit of a kick, he admits.
2124 Market St
San Francisco, CA 94114

4. Hops & Hominy

1 Tillman Pl, San Francisco, CA 94108
Now over two years old, this Southern hot spot wedged in the Financial 
District has earned its chops. It's made a few tweaks since opening, 
like deleting the sprig of bacon once sticking out of its smoked-bacon 
Old Fashioned drink special. What's still the same is the 
bacon-infused bourbon you can get inside.
1 Tillman Pl
San Francisco, CA 94108

5. Elixir

3200 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Elixir proprietor H. Joseph Ehrmann added the Old Fashioned Pilgrim to
 the menu this week to create buzz for November's Give Back the Bird 
charity program, a partnership with Wild Turkey to raise funds for the
 SF-Marin Food Bank. Ingredients include 2 oz of Wild Turkey 101
Kentucky Pilgrim Infusion; .5oz Clover Honey Syrup; two dashes of
orange bitters; orange zest and cocktail cranberry garnish.
3200 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94103

6. 1760

1760 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109
Bar Manager Christopher Longoria, also participating in the Give Back 
the Bird program, says his Old Fashioned 17 pops with color and gets 
an added dose of swagger from the Jelenik Fernet. Its marriage with
 Campari gives the cocktail "more viscosity that the classic
 recipe, and adds a fun modern twist," Longoria says. The Wild Turkey
 Rye's lighter body adds to the overall balance, rounded out with 
orange bitters.

1760 Polk St
San Francisco, CA 94109

7. The Alembic

1725 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117
Alembic may be undergoing a big makeover, but what's stayed
 consistently popular is its two types of Old Fashioneds. The Sazerac 
is an ode to the Big Easy, with rye whiskey, peychaud’s bitters from 
New Orleans, a bit of sugar and a glass "rinsed with a green bitter
liquid that shall remain nameless," states the menu. The Bourbon Old
 Fashioned is nothing more than a slug of bourbon on the rocks with a
 couple dashes of bitters, a little sugar and lemon peel to take the
 edge off. On a weekday night by 7pm, bartender Mike Fleury says he had 
already whipped up a few of each.
1725 Haight St
San Francisco, CA 94117

8. Bar Agricole

355 11th St, San Francisco, CA 94103
Living up to its 2014 James Beard nomination for outstanding bar
program, Bar Agricole invests the time--and money--to create
outstanding Old Fashioneds. That means making their own bitters (you 
won't find any artificial flavors or colors in sight). The team also incorporates cognac--the original spirit of cognac in the Old Fashioned--which entails making trips every few years to handpick a new cask from France, mixologist Craig Lane says. The "California" version 
of Holland gin comes from St. George Spirits and stars in its Rye Gin 
Old Fashioned. For the cherry effect, Lane swears by the Leopold Bros.
 Maraschino from Colorado. Another detail sometimes overlooked: ice.
 When sister Trou Normand opened this year, the team splurged on a
 Clinebell machine. The Ferrari of ice making rewards drinkers with a
 new flavor profile as the single square-shaped piece melts.
355 11th St
San Francisco, CA 94103

9. Dirty Habit

12 4th St, 5th Floor, San Francisco, CA 94103
Since Palomar transformed the Fifth Floor into a sexy oasis this
 summer, the Old Fashioned has been the only cocktail that's stayed on 
the menu this long. The hit relies on a nontraditional Old Fashioned
 spirit (Banks 5 Island Rum), swirled with velvet Falernum, allspice 
dram and angostura bitters. Get it while it lasts; the bartender says 
the Caribbean-inspired cocktail could be about a month away from 
floating off the menu.
12 4th St, 5th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94103

10. ¡Chino!

3198 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

This funky Asian eatery gets whimsical with its Old Fashioned,
 throwing in a house made cola syrup that pairs well with its play
mates (bitters and James E. Pepper rye). Bar manager Danny Louie, who 
used to sling drinks at Alembic, let Eater try a separate taste of the 
sinfully sweet syrup. He just won't tell us what's in it.
3198 16th St
San Francisco, CA 94103

11. Original Joe's

601 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94133
Keeping in line with its name, this longtime legend in North Beach
 sticks to the original roots of the Old Fashioned. Once muddled sugar, 
cherry, orange, Angostura bitters and soda water meet with Woodford 
bourbon, let chemistry do its job and refrain from stirring, instructs 
the bartender; the bubbles are meant to rise by themselves to mix 
flavors together.
601 Union St
San Francisco, CA 94133

12. 15 Romolo

15 Romolo Pl, San Francisco, CA 94133
This 16-year-old handcrafted cocktail pioneer hidden off of Broadway 
caters to an old-timey crowd (no TVs here), so it's no surprise their
 Old Fashioned stays close to the first recorded recipe. (The first cocktail ever 
defined on paper had sugar, spirits, bitters, and water, notes the 
bartender, pointing to their own paper menu.) Its younger sibling Rye is more of a modern-day risk 
taker, offering gin and rum-based versions.
15 Romolo Pl
San Francisco, CA 94133

13. Waterbar

399 The Embarcadero S, San Francisco, CA 94105
Waterbar's Bobby Boucher (Buffalo Trace bourbon, Heering cherry 
liqueur, benedictine, orange zest) is named after Adam Sandler’s 
character in the movie Waterboy. Beverage director Steve Izzo uses the 
Heering cherry liqueur instead of the standard Maraschino cherries and 
club soda as a throwback. Heering cherry liqueur--once super popular
 in the 80s and 90s--has since made a comeback (we can't say the same
 about Sandler). The benedictine is there to add a bit of an herbal
 aromatic, he adds.

399 The Embarcadero S
San Francisco, CA 94105

14. Locanda

557 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110
The $20 Old Fashioned Flight at this upscale Mission eatery is an
 aggressive option for the indecisive or noncommittal. One flight will 
get you three small glasses of a wide variety: rye and demerara; 
bourbon and maple; and scotch and honey. Considering each is a 
one-ounce pour, $6.67 per taste is a deal, says bartender Daniel
 Bishop. On a busy weekend night, he says some 20 orders roll in 
(that's a quick 60 glasses and $400, in case you're counting). FYI:
They do Negroni flights too.
557 Valencia St
San Francisco, CA 94110

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