It’s never a bad time to discover an amazing new bar in the city, whether it has excellent craft cocktails, a unique ambience, stellar service, or an awesome view. We wanted to discover the best cocktail bars in San Francisco, so we posted a poll on our Instagram asking for suggestions! Our followers never disappoint, and here are some of the best ones, in no particular order. Be sure to scroll to the bottom fora map and a lengthy list of honorable mentions!
1. The Interval
This is one of the unique bars in San Francisco, because it also happens to be a museum, library, and cafe. It belongs to the Long Now Foundation in Fort Mason, a nonprofit dedicated to “long-term thinking.” As such, it stocks books dedicated to rebuilding civilization, mechanical prototypes for a clock meant to last 10,000 years, and a time-inspired cocktail menu. The space itself is meant to foster community and conversation, and they often host talks by guest speakers.
Location: 2 Marina Blvd, Building A, Fort Mason Center
This beautiful bar is known for its giant retractable roof, which makes for a unique indoor-outdoor cocktail experience. You can cozy up to a bonfire or bask in the sunlight while sipping on fun and inventive drinks, beers and wines. The open, exposed design evokes a rooftop feel, and the cocktail menu is simple yet inventive and fun. Chips and handmade salsa make for the perfect snack!
Location: 925 Bush St
3. Smuggler’s Cove
This pirate-themed bar is totally eclectic, but made even more impressive with its award-winning rum selection, which boasts upwards of 550 rums. They claim to be one of the world’s top destinations for rum and exotic cocktails, and even have a book to prove it! Don’t be put off by the unassuming façade, marked only by a red lightbulb, because inside you’ll be blown away by the awesome tiki-pirate décor and exciting cocktail menu.
Location: 650 Gough St
4. Bourbon & Branch
This beloved speakeasy bar is the ultimate 1920s escape, located at the site of an actual Prohibition-era speakeasy that operated from 1921-1933. As such, they continue to operate under a strict set of rules including “no cell phone use,” “no photography,” “speak-easy” (speak quietly) and “don’t even think of asking for a cosmo.” They carry a top-notch selection of bourbon, scotch, rums and tequilas, and more. Consider checking out their Beverage Academy for hands-on cocktail classes!
Location: 501 Jones St
5. Trick Dog
This award-winning bar serves an unbelievable cocktail menu alongside delicious gourmet hotdogs from their foodie counterpart, Quik Dog. The menu is somewhere between a children’s book and an ancient manuscript, with drinks inspired by divinity, creative expression, rationality, and hedonism.
Location: 3010 20th St
San Francisco’s tallest skybar is Cityscape, which affords 360° of the city from the 46th floor of Union Square’s Hilton Hotel. The sleek bar provides delicious classic cocktails along with seasonal options (think cranberry mules and holiday spritzers). Enjoy your libations with the San Francisco skyline as your backdrop, which is equally breathtaking by night and by day.
Location: 333 O’Farrell St
7. Pagan Idol
This tiki bar is stationed inside an aged wooden pirate ship, complete with portholes and lanterns! The popular bar replaced Tiki Bob’s Mainland Rendezvous, a notorious spot that once hosted lingerie shows. It’s retained a bit of that back-alley energy, amped up with several doses of kitschy tropical decor. Step into the back room and escape to a mysterious deserted island, where you can sip your cocktail under a starry night sky and watch an erupting volcano.
Location: 375 Bush St
This delightful cocktail bar has an enormous cocktail menu with dozens of liquor options to choose from. Craft cocktails center around highballs, whiskey, agave, rum/brandy, and gin/vodka. Even better, their kitchen is open until midnight so you can stay up enjoying their creative bar fare late into the evening.
Location: 3174 16th St
This beautiful bar is a favorite among gin lovers, but their cocktails really offer something for everyone. The arched ceilings and tiled walls evoke a turn-of-the-century London tube station, and the Victorian theme carries over into the plush red sofas, lanterns, and gold fixtures. Enjoy a British street food-inspired menu alongside creative and unforgettable drinks.
Location: 600 Polk St
This book-themed bar takes inspiration from literature when crafting its cocktails, which often are named after different literary characters. It feels like a cross between an elegant library, a cozy coffee shop, and a speakeasy. They’re especially known for their fruity and refreshing house-made punches on tap, which are fun alternatives to your typical cocktail experience.
Location: 662 Mission St
- Tonga Room
- House of Shields
- Hi Lo
- 15 Romolo
Featured image: @bourbonandbranchsf via Instagram