You can find a cocktail at nearly every restaurant and bar you step into in San Francisco. But where do you go when you’re craving a drink with a little something extra? House-made ingredients, knowledgeable bartenders, innovative recipes and a cozy atmosphere — that’s what makes a cocktail lounge standout.
From SF to the Peninsula to Berkeley, we found the best locations (and their best cocktails) so you can experience them for yourself. So go ahead! Take a tour of the Bay via it’s most delicious boozy beverages and let us know which one is your favorite.
The Treasury | Enjoy gourmet bar snacks, hand-crafted cocktails, select wines and craft beer in the heart of the Financial District.
Must-try — Brass Tacks made with Cutty Sark “Prohibition” scotch whisky, huckleberries, sage, honey and lemon
Photo courtesy of The Treasury and Aubrie Pick
Rickhouse | They have a bit of everything — artisanal cocktails, fine spirits, local beers and boutique California wines — in a warm, rustic and modern space.
Must-try — La Bonne Vie made with Plymouth, fresh lemon and grapefruit juice, fresh basil and bitters
Linden Room | Part of Nightbird Restaurant, this cocktail lounge is intimate and cozy, turning their homemade tinctures, bitters and liqueurs into incredible cocktail beverages.
Must-try — Grape Divide made with Grape gin, blackberry, red wine syrup, black pepper and egg white
Photos courtesy of Two Sisters Bar and Books and Kelly Puleio
Two Sisters Bars and Books | The space is inspired by the owners’ global traveling, creating a cozy, library atmosphere while the food and cocktails bring a gourmet, artisan touch.
Must-try — Smoke & Flowers made with Hibiscus-infused casa Pacifica tequila, Vida mezcal, lemon, lime, simple syrup and Maldon salt
Reed & Greenough | An upscale lounge for the locals and the visitors, this cocktail bar merges historical decor with modern touches and hand-crafted cocktails.
Must-try — Bees Knees made with New Amsterdam Gin, fresh squeezed lemon juice and fresh honey from their rooftop beehive
Photo courtesy of Reed & Greenough
The Interval at Long Now | This bar serves historical drinks, and you can learn their stories while you lounge in the industrial museum setting.
Must-try — Winner Gets Miss Elizabeth’s Love made with Apple brandy, Becherovka, orgeat, lemon, served over crushed ice with a float of allspice
Laszlo | Their Eastern European film and Cinema Verite decor is inspired by Foreign Cinema next door; their live music events are lively; and the cocktail menu is fresh, modern and exciting.
Must-try — To Have & To Have Not made with walnut-washed bourbon, Amaro, Cocchi di Torino and bitters
Photos courtesy of Ghost Media
Evil Eye | Inspired by the comforts of your living room and a passion for inventive cocktails, Evil Eye owners have years of experience and a long list of must-try drinks.
Must-try — Devil’s in the Details made with Bourbon, coffee, hellfire passion fruit syrup, lemon and ginger
The Saratoga | This upscale location for lovers offers gourmet cocktails, high-end food and a rare, vintage bar atmosphere.
Must-try — Grand Pendennis made with Gin, apricot Brandy, lime, Peychaud’s Bitters, Bretagne foam and burnt bitters
Photos courtesy of The Saratoga
Pacific Cocktail Haven | A welcoming neighborhood bar, Pacific Cocktail Haven serves locally inspired cocktails for every palette.
Must-try — Kingston Crusta made with Appleton Estate Rum, Maraschino, ginger, citrus, cayenne and bitters
Horsefeather | The vintage atmosphere is inspired by the American arts & crafts period, and each signature cocktail has a modern, unexpected twist.
Must-try — Nightrain made with Mosswood espresso whiskey, bourbon, Averna, branca menta and cacao
Photo courtesy of Horsefeather and Deb Leal
Nopa | Nopa greets you with a welcoming, at-home kitchen atmosphere, and keeps you around with farm-to-table food and a whimsical cocktail menu.
Must-try — Pancake? made with Partida Reposado Tequila, Sapling Maple Liqueur and Amontillado Sherry
15 Romolo | Whether you need to decompress, celebrate a promotion, or catch up with your friends at brunch, 15 Romolo has the perfect atmosphere — and the perfect cocktail.
Must-try — Paper Doll made with sweet potato vodka, apple-fennel shrub, Moscatel sherry, maraschino and absinthe
Photos courtesy of 15 Romolo and Balthazar Media
The Devil’s Acre | With inspiration from historical apothecaries and the lawless Barbary Coast era, The Devil’s Acre has a cocktail for every ailment and every celebration.
Must-try — Call a Treuse made with Green Chartreuse, Yellow Chartreuse, Dry Vermouth, lemon, vanilla syrup, egg whites, Gold Rush Bitters, and thyme
Wild Hare | Enjoy New American cuisine, one of the best happy hours in the neighborhood, and the most refreshing cocktail menu in the city.
Must-try — Blond made with Bourbon, lemon, honey, peach bitters, sparkling wine, shaken and served over ice
Swank | Located inside Laurel Inn, you can sip an elegantly crafted cocktail and play the Brainstormer Pub Quiz every Wednesday evening!
Must-try — Hipster & Rye made with Rye, Fernet Branca, maple syrup and bitters
Mezcalito | Pull up a seat at their modern rustic bar and taste the best mezcal cocktails in the city.
Must-try — Viejo Americano made with rye, lime, mint and crémant
Photo courtesy of Mezcalito and Michael David Rose
Bar Agricole | This contemporary tavern has a cocktail menu that celebrates the rich tradition of farmhouse distilling and a food menu with ingredients sourced from local organic and biodynamic farms.
Must-try — Brown Derby made with Bourbon, grapefruit, lemon, honey and aromatic bitters
Photos courtesy of Bar Agricole and @cindyloughridge
Mourad | Perfectly complementing the cuisine, Mourad features authentic Moroccan decor with modern interpretation and a drink menu for the adventurous, craft cocktail admirer.
Must-try — Clove + Hibiscus made with Cognac, falernum, lime, Campari, grapefruit and pineapple IPA
Barrelhouse | The comfortable, inviting atmosphere of Barrelhouse makes it a neighborhood bar for every guest, and the cocktail menu features classic recipes alongside inventive creations.
Must-try — Spiced Pear Martini made with SKYY Pear Vodka, cinnamon syrup, fresh pear and lime juice
Photo courtesy of Barrelhouse
Nola | Nola is the place to be for any celebration in Palo Alto! Their lively atmosphere, festive events and New Orleans inspired drink menu are the perfect setting for a night out.
Must-try — Spiced Apple Red Sangria made with Housemade spiced syrup, rum, brandy, orange liqueur, citrus, apples, pears and fresh fruit juice
Mortar & Pestle | You’ll find delicious Indian street food, specialty wines and local microbrews alongside handcrafted cocktails. The house made syrups, sodas and tonics make each drink a must-try!
Must-try — Mayan Calendar made with Wahaka mezcal, creme de cacao, habañero, lime, cinnamon and blackstrap bitters
Plum Bar | Both the food and drinks at Plum Bar are made and inspired by fresh, local and seasonal ingredients — intricately and uniquely prepared.
Must-try — West Coast Slang made with Tequila, pomegranate, cilantro, grapefruit, cherry heering and benedictine
Photos courtesy of Plum Bar and Aaron Paul
Rockridge Improvement Club | One of the only local establishments focusing on high-end cocktails, RIC has room to innovate — providing us with delicious, crafted cocktails every time.
Must-try — Suck it, Trebek made with Scotch, Averna, Kina Kina and orange bitters
Photo courtesy of Rockridge Improvement Club
Blackwater Station | This standout cocktail lounge in Temescal serves gourmet bar food and artisan cocktails in their cozy historic locale.
Must-try — Cautionary Tale made with Madeira, pear liqueur, black pepper maple syrup, tequila and rum
Playa | With over 100 rare tequilas and mezcals from Mexico and South America, Playa’s artisanal beverages are paired with the freshest ingredients traditional to Mexico.
Must-try — Kill Bill Margarita made with Tres Agaves Blanco, Cointreau and lime
Photo courtesy of Playa
Barrel House Tavern | Sausalito’s Barrel House is a Northern California classic inside a historic ferry terminal. The bright, seaside atmosphere, locally sourced menu, and meticulous drinks make it a favorite local hotspot.
Must-try — Calamity Jane made with House-infused Earl Grey Gin, lemon juice, canton, ginger and honey
Revival Bar + Kitchen | Well sourced and minimally processed ingredients abound at Revival where they serve beautiful, original cocktails and simple, delightful food.
Must-try — Pete’s Hybrid Moment made with BLOOM Gin, kumquat-lavender cello, Thai bitters and a few secret ingredients
Photo courtesy of Revival Bar + Kitchen
Union on Yale | Without a doubt, Union serves the best cocktails in the neighborhood — and in the liveliest, most welcoming atmosphere!
Must-try — Open Waters made with Navy Rum, Blackstrap Rum, lemon, apple, cinnamon and egg whites
Where do you sip in the Bay?
Share your favorite neighborhood bars and lounges with us!