Classy Cocktail Lounges in San Francisco
You can’t walk a block in San Francisco, California without passing a handful of bars, and in some areas it can feel like the city is a continuous watering hole. This is partially due to the hefty price per square foot that real estate in the city by the bay commands, as many people simply don’t have the space to socialize at home. It is also because San Francisco likes to have a good time, and offers a dizzying array of locales in which to enjoy libations.
The cream of the crop of the drinking scene are the swanky cocktail lounges that are now popular in just about every San Francisco neighborhood. At these classy joints the act of mixing a drink has been elevated to an art form, and often a single recipe for a cocktail will entail over a dozen ingredients. Not all cocktail lounges were created equal,and the quantity in the city does not always equate with quality. For those that want the true luxury experience that only a top-notch lounge can provide, a few select ultra-lounges stand head and shoulders above the rest.
Alchemist Bar and Lounge
The Alchemist looks like a classic Barbary Coast speakeasy set in an industrial chic warehouse space, which puts it right at home in the city’s South of Market neighborhood. Luxurious deep brown leather couches afford comfortable socialization, combined with its stained hard wood floors and raw brick walls, giving it an abundance of dark, earthy tones. The cocktail menu revolves around selections crafted from herbal tinctures created specifically for the Alchemist Bar and Lounge by a Chinese herbalist. Rising Bay Area mixology stars are incubated: as guest bartenders get a shot at serving the very discerning crowd twice a month. If you are ready to dive right into the heady center of San Francisco’s dynamic cocktail scene, the Alchemist is your best starting point.
679 3rd Street, San Francisco, CA 94107 (415) 746-9968
The Redwood Room
A solid staple of San Francisco’s otherwise always-changing lounge scene, the Redwood Room first opened its doors in 1933. The classic art deco style drinking establishment is decked out in redwood paneling and features a huge bar said to be carved from the trunk of a single California redwood tree. The Redwood Room sits inside the Clift Hotel, one of San Francisco’s finest monuments to luxury travel, and every detail of the bar is infused with a designer touch.The cocktail menu is extensive, but not overly experimental.
495 Geary Street, San Francisco, CA 94102 (415) 775 4700
The Slanted Door
Occupying the choicest corner of the historic San Francisco Ferry Building right on the San Francisco waterfront, the Slanted Door is a sophisticated and award-winning Vietnamese restaurant that also holds one of the most happening cocktail lounges in the city. Drinks are made from fresh fruit juices and extracts, and are crafted on order to enjoy them over the backdrop of the sparking bay and the San Francisco Bay Bridge. The decor is stylishly modern with a touch of classic Asian flavor.
1 Ferry Building #3 San Francisco, CA 94111, (415) 861-8032
For a trip through time back to Ye Olde Europe, it is only necessary to pop into Absinthe for a drink. This Hayes Valley landmark feels just like a Parisian lounge from the days of yore and serves up a fabulous variety of handmade cocktails and stiff drinks, including the namesake absinthe itself. Outside bistro-style seating is popular on summer and fall nights, when the city gets a break from the Northern California wind and fog, but the interior also charms with warm lighting and tasteful artwork. Absinthe recently published a cocktail book “The Art of the Bar”, which was written by their bartenders and includes many of their classic recipes.
398 Hayes Street, San Francisco, CA 94102, (415) 551-1590