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Where to Drink Cocktails in SF Right Now, Winter 2014

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Attention, drink seekers: it's time again for our seasonal update to the Eater Cocktail Heatmap. Here and now, we present the newest and hottest bets for booze around town, from cocktail-focused new bars to new restaurant bar programs to spots that are upping the ante on their beverage offerings. Have your own ideas? Give us your proposed additions and subtractions in the comments, or shoot us a friendly e-mail.


Rose Garrett contributed to this article.

· The Eater Cocktail Week 2013 Reader [~ ESF ~]
· The Cocktail Heatmap: Fall 2013 Edition [~ ESF ~]
· The Cocktail Heatmap: Summer 2013 Edition [~ ESF ~]

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Note: Restaurants on this map are listed geographically.
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Lolo had a liquor license and cocktails in its earlier incarnation, but its new home has been a shot in the arm, drinks-wise. A specially designated agave bar allows patrons to sip flights of tequila and mezcal, while a pomegranate-tequila mule and a rye-Cynar sipper with a pop of Anchor Steam are some of the inventive concoctions on the drink menu.

Penrose

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In keeping with Penrose's rustic, wood-fired aesthetic, Cate Whalen offers takes on spirit-forward classics like a Vieux Carré and a few house concoctions that playfully combine spirits (one drink has gin, rye, plum brandy, and absinthe), which pair nicely with all the grilled meat and flatbreads emerging from the oven. The famous house tonic she perfected at Pizzaiolo is also in the mix, available with gin, rum, whiskey, or vodka.

Victory Hall & Parlor

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Lemongrass syrup, oatmeal stout reduction, smoked cherry bitters, and ginger nectar are some of the intriguing housemade concoctions you'll see on Little Skillet's sister spot's menu. Punches make this a great place for groups to drink, and the extensive menu means there's something for everyone from the novice vodka drinker to the hardcore brown-and-bitter enthusiast.

Verbena

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An emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients like chamomile hop honey, grapefruit shrubs, and fresh horchata give Verbena's cocktail program a pedigree to match the carefully arranged ingredients on the plate. The seven-drink list is petite but well-edited; the Fog Cutter, a vodka-centric riff on a French 75 with a minty hit of Strega, is an early favorite.

Third Rail

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Legendary Range bartender Jeff Lyon now has a Dogpatch bar of his very own, where he's offering a quartet of drinks in each of four categories: seasonal, citrus, spirtuous, and aperitif. Particularly of note is the latter category, a longtime Lyon specialty at Range, with drinks like the 601 (Sutton Cellars vermouth, prosecco, ginger, honey, lemon) that offer full flavor but won't knock you sideways after a second.

ALTA CA

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It's hard not to be won over by Ashley Miller's compulsively drinkable cocktails at Alta, with a light touch that dovetails nicely with Yoni Levy's restrained Jewish soul food. The Hang Glider (an Aviation with sage, force-carbonated to order) is delightful, as is the grassy and vegetal Jumping Frog, and a library of housemade infusions, tinctures, sodas, and liqueurs promise to keep things interesting as the seasons change. The catch: At $14 a pop, they're among the most expensive in town-- $3 more than equally compelling Bar Agricole, which is just a few blocks away.

Box & Bells

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James Syhabout's new industry-fave gastropub needs drinks that can stand up to the hearty fare, and Christ Avaliotis has delivered with refreshing, citrus-heavy riffs on classics like the Pendennis Club, Hemingway daiquiri, and bourbon sour, as well as a classic shot of bourbon with an eight-ounce pour of Linden Street lager. Avaliotis has also revamped the drinks at sister spot Hawker Fare, taking them in a more tiki-oriented direction.

Sabrosa

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Five types of margaritas (classic with triple sec, Tommy's, mezcal, grapefruit, and roasted jalapeño) headline Sabrosa's menu, which also features concoctions like a tequila-spiced salt Cuba Libre, a rye-mezcal old fashioned, and a pisco punch to quell the spice of the food. Three beertails include a traditional michelada and a variation with mezcal and celery bitters.

From the folks who brought you Public Works, Big, and Jones, Oddjob takes up a sizable corner of 9th and Mission, where the decidedly overpriced drinks include a gin-absinthe-root beer combo, a rosemary-infused rye old fashioned, and a mezcal concoction with cherry, strawberry, and blood orange. The Corpse Reviver machine, which automatically makes patrons a drink, is a particular draw.

Like AQ when it first opened, TBD lacks a liquor license, so barman Tim Zohn has once again been pressed into service to create what he calls "loophole" cocktails, developing intriguing combos like star anise- and juniper-infused sherry and Lillet blanc, bourbon-barrel-aged stout and oloroso sherry, and a Peychaud's-heavy "nogroni." You may not even miss the full-proof booze (though AQ is two doors down if you do).

Loló

Lolo had a liquor license and cocktails in its earlier incarnation, but its new home has been a shot in the arm, drinks-wise. A specially designated agave bar allows patrons to sip flights of tequila and mezcal, while a pomegranate-tequila mule and a rye-Cynar sipper with a pop of Anchor Steam are some of the inventive concoctions on the drink menu.

Penrose

In keeping with Penrose's rustic, wood-fired aesthetic, Cate Whalen offers takes on spirit-forward classics like a Vieux Carré and a few house concoctions that playfully combine spirits (one drink has gin, rye, plum brandy, and absinthe), which pair nicely with all the grilled meat and flatbreads emerging from the oven. The famous house tonic she perfected at Pizzaiolo is also in the mix, available with gin, rum, whiskey, or vodka.

Victory Hall & Parlor

Lemongrass syrup, oatmeal stout reduction, smoked cherry bitters, and ginger nectar are some of the intriguing housemade concoctions you'll see on Little Skillet's sister spot's menu. Punches make this a great place for groups to drink, and the extensive menu means there's something for everyone from the novice vodka drinker to the hardcore brown-and-bitter enthusiast.

Verbena

An emphasis on local and seasonal ingredients like chamomile hop honey, grapefruit shrubs, and fresh horchata give Verbena's cocktail program a pedigree to match the carefully arranged ingredients on the plate. The seven-drink list is petite but well-edited; the Fog Cutter, a vodka-centric riff on a French 75 with a minty hit of Strega, is an early favorite.

Third Rail

Legendary Range bartender Jeff Lyon now has a Dogpatch bar of his very own, where he's offering a quartet of drinks in each of four categories: seasonal, citrus, spirtuous, and aperitif. Particularly of note is the latter category, a longtime Lyon specialty at Range, with drinks like the 601 (Sutton Cellars vermouth, prosecco, ginger, honey, lemon) that offer full flavor but won't knock you sideways after a second.

ALTA CA

It's hard not to be won over by Ashley Miller's compulsively drinkable cocktails at Alta, with a light touch that dovetails nicely with Yoni Levy's restrained Jewish soul food. The Hang Glider (an Aviation with sage, force-carbonated to order) is delightful, as is the grassy and vegetal Jumping Frog, and a library of housemade infusions, tinctures, sodas, and liqueurs promise to keep things interesting as the seasons change. The catch: At $14 a pop, they're among the most expensive in town-- $3 more than equally compelling Bar Agricole, which is just a few blocks away.

Box & Bells

James Syhabout's new industry-fave gastropub needs drinks that can stand up to the hearty fare, and Christ Avaliotis has delivered with refreshing, citrus-heavy riffs on classics like the Pendennis Club, Hemingway daiquiri, and bourbon sour, as well as a classic shot of bourbon with an eight-ounce pour of Linden Street lager. Avaliotis has also revamped the drinks at sister spot Hawker Fare, taking them in a more tiki-oriented direction.

Sabrosa

Five types of margaritas (classic with triple sec, Tommy's, mezcal, grapefruit, and roasted jalapeño) headline Sabrosa's menu, which also features concoctions like a tequila-spiced salt Cuba Libre, a rye-mezcal old fashioned, and a pisco punch to quell the spice of the food. Three beertails include a traditional michelada and a variation with mezcal and celery bitters.

Oddjob

From the folks who brought you Public Works, Big, and Jones, Oddjob takes up a sizable corner of 9th and Mission, where the decidedly overpriced drinks include a gin-absinthe-root beer combo, a rosemary-infused rye old fashioned, and a mezcal concoction with cherry, strawberry, and blood orange. The Corpse Reviver machine, which automatically makes patrons a drink, is a particular draw.

TBD

Like AQ when it first opened, TBD lacks a liquor license, so barman Tim Zohn has once again been pressed into service to create what he calls "loophole" cocktails, developing intriguing combos like star anise- and juniper-infused sherry and Lillet blanc, bourbon-barrel-aged stout and oloroso sherry, and a Peychaud's-heavy "nogroni." You may not even miss the full-proof booze (though AQ is two doors down if you do).

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