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Where to Drink Cocktails in SF Right Now, Summer 2013

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It's been a while since we updated the Eater Cocktail Heatmap, and so here we are, bringing you the very best of new bars and restaurant bar programs that have debuted in the late spring and summer (including a couple of major revamps at existing places). Consider it your back-pocket guide to the coolest new cocktail programs all over the city. As always, this list is in no particular order; state your proposed additions and subtractions in the comments, or send us a good old-fashioned e-mail.


Additions:

· July 31, 2013: added Ziryab, Roka Akor, Swig, Dogpatch Saloon, Novela, Driftwood
· April 22, 2013: added The Alchemist, Trick Dog, Tribune Tavern, Hard Water, Coqueta, Kronnerburger
· September 12, 2012: added Tradition, Mission Bowling Club, Big, Jasper's Corner Tap
· April 20, 2012: added Raven, Local Edition

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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The Alembic

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With longtime bar manager Daniel Hyatt out on his own, seasoned Alembic bartender Danny Louie and AQ alum Ethan Terry have kept up the Upper Haight staple's cocktail tradition via a great new menu, with elements like Sichuan peppercorn, porter foam, and apple syrup with garam masala. The jerk-spiced duck hearts remain a bar-snack must.

Alchemist Bar & Lounge

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This sultry SOMA lounge from a Gitane alum will satisfy drinking needs both straightforward (their Room with a Vieux adds tequila to the classic Vieux Carre) and obscure (a mezcal-cherry Heering fizz with IPA—believe it). Bar snacks from the Thai spot downstairs and a 12-foot shuffleboard table add to the pleasure.

Hog & Rocks alum Zachary Taylor has embarked on an ambitious menu project at this revamped Middle Eastern spot, attempting to make drinks with arak, yogurt liqueur, and other flavors that reflect the cuisine. The forthcoming patio certainly won't hurt, either.

Trick Dog

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Everything at the Bon Vivants' long-awaited home base is meticulously thought out, from the Pantone color scheme and record-album menus to the innovative drinks to the inventive bar food. The result? Crowds like you would not believe. Plan on grabbing a bottled beverage (we like the buttermilk punch) or dining at prime time so you can snag a table.

Tribune Tavern

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Paul Christensen's cocktail program at this new Oakland spot has its own kitchen, and the drinks are appropriately ambitious; you'll see ingredients like black lime tincture, kumquat bitters, almond-milk foam, and bourbon sous-vide with satsuma mandarins and angelica root on the menu.

Hard Water

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Whiskey aficionados could die happy delving into Erik Adkins' deep selection of American brown spirits at this waterfront bar. (That $100 flight of different Pappy van Winkles may lighten your pockets, but it'll also light up your life.) The cocktail selection is small, New Orleans-influenced, and on point, and the raw bar and Cajun plates are tasty.

Coqueta

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Barman Joe Cleveland, who logged time with Jose Andres, may take home the prize for most ambitious cocktail menu of 2013 so far: he's got separate sections for gin and tonics, sherry drinks, porrones, SF-inspired tipples, molecular-gastronomy creations like liquid-nitrogen sangria and frozen gin meringue...we could go on. Getting a seat on the tiny bar patio is a tough ticket right now, but these drinks merit the attention.

Kronnerburger

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What Gabe Lowe's menu lacks in breadth, it more than makes up for in depth. The scotcholate milk is a revelation, and the "carbonated motherfucking margarita" may be worthy of the expletive. And considering that the matching bar bite is the city's most buzzed-about burger in years, you'd be hard-pressed to go wrong here.

Swig is the oldest bar in the Bourbon & Branch team's portfolio, and we can't blame you if you haven't dropped by for a while. But it's worth another look now, thanks to a revamped interior, a new emphasis on classic cocktails, and a seriously deep whiskey selection that's one of the best in town.

Dogpatch Saloon

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The 83 Proof team has done a total makeover on this 106-year-old icon, keeping the good (stained glass), beefing up the cocktail menu (gin with kalamata-infused Amaro Montenegro or a strawberry-whiskey-porter number, anyone?), and adding some lovely decorative touches (Muni-track bar rail). What's old is new again.

Themed after literary characters, this SOMA spot gets an extra punch from its draft punch program, the first of its kind. But don't miss out on the cocktails, either: the deceptively simple Atticus Finch, an old-fashioned with balsamic bitters served up, is a gem, as is the hardy Santiago, with tequila, mezcal, and coffee liqueur.

Driftwood

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This casual SOMA bar feels like the belly of a ship, and with its warming fireplace and vinyl soundtrack, it's a lovely escape from a chilly day. The cocktails are straightforward and spirituous; we like the Bosun's Knot, an old-fashioned with a green Chartreuse and coffee bean kick, and a classic Last Word or Vesper are also good options.

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The Alembic

With longtime bar manager Daniel Hyatt out on his own, seasoned Alembic bartender Danny Louie and AQ alum Ethan Terry have kept up the Upper Haight staple's cocktail tradition via a great new menu, with elements like Sichuan peppercorn, porter foam, and apple syrup with garam masala. The jerk-spiced duck hearts remain a bar-snack must.

Alchemist Bar & Lounge

This sultry SOMA lounge from a Gitane alum will satisfy drinking needs both straightforward (their Room with a Vieux adds tequila to the classic Vieux Carre) and obscure (a mezcal-cherry Heering fizz with IPA—believe it). Bar snacks from the Thai spot downstairs and a 12-foot shuffleboard table add to the pleasure.

Ziryab

Hog & Rocks alum Zachary Taylor has embarked on an ambitious menu project at this revamped Middle Eastern spot, attempting to make drinks with arak, yogurt liqueur, and other flavors that reflect the cuisine. The forthcoming patio certainly won't hurt, either.

Trick Dog

Everything at the Bon Vivants' long-awaited home base is meticulously thought out, from the Pantone color scheme and record-album menus to the innovative drinks to the inventive bar food. The result? Crowds like you would not believe. Plan on grabbing a bottled beverage (we like the buttermilk punch) or dining at prime time so you can snag a table.

Tribune Tavern

Paul Christensen's cocktail program at this new Oakland spot has its own kitchen, and the drinks are appropriately ambitious; you'll see ingredients like black lime tincture, kumquat bitters, almond-milk foam, and bourbon sous-vide with satsuma mandarins and angelica root on the menu.

Hard Water

Whiskey aficionados could die happy delving into Erik Adkins' deep selection of American brown spirits at this waterfront bar. (That $100 flight of different Pappy van Winkles may lighten your pockets, but it'll also light up your life.) The cocktail selection is small, New Orleans-influenced, and on point, and the raw bar and Cajun plates are tasty.

Coqueta

Barman Joe Cleveland, who logged time with Jose Andres, may take home the prize for most ambitious cocktail menu of 2013 so far: he's got separate sections for gin and tonics, sherry drinks, porrones, SF-inspired tipples, molecular-gastronomy creations like liquid-nitrogen sangria and frozen gin meringue...we could go on. Getting a seat on the tiny bar patio is a tough ticket right now, but these drinks merit the attention.

Kronnerburger

What Gabe Lowe's menu lacks in breadth, it more than makes up for in depth. The scotcholate milk is a revelation, and the "carbonated motherfucking margarita" may be worthy of the expletive. And considering that the matching bar bite is the city's most buzzed-about burger in years, you'd be hard-pressed to go wrong here.

Swig

Swig is the oldest bar in the Bourbon & Branch team's portfolio, and we can't blame you if you haven't dropped by for a while. But it's worth another look now, thanks to a revamped interior, a new emphasis on classic cocktails, and a seriously deep whiskey selection that's one of the best in town.

Dogpatch Saloon

The 83 Proof team has done a total makeover on this 106-year-old icon, keeping the good (stained glass), beefing up the cocktail menu (gin with kalamata-infused Amaro Montenegro or a strawberry-whiskey-porter number, anyone?), and adding some lovely decorative touches (Muni-track bar rail). What's old is new again.

Novela

Themed after literary characters, this SOMA spot gets an extra punch from its draft punch program, the first of its kind. But don't miss out on the cocktails, either: the deceptively simple Atticus Finch, an old-fashioned with balsamic bitters served up, is a gem, as is the hardy Santiago, with tequila, mezcal, and coffee liqueur.

Driftwood

This casual SOMA bar feels like the belly of a ship, and with its warming fireplace and vinyl soundtrack, it's a lovely escape from a chilly day. The cocktails are straightforward and spirituous; we like the Bosun's Knot, an old-fashioned with a green Chartreuse and coffee bean kick, and a classic Last Word or Vesper are also good options.

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