Often, a great drink's greatness derives not just from a bartender's cleverness, exacting techniques, or intriguing recipes, but from the full experience of having that cocktail at the bar is terrific.
The "Parks & Recreational Drinking" section at Park Tavern, where four tipples are designed and named after San Francisco parks, features such a drink. Bartender Jeff Lauer's the McLaren ($12, Hendrick's gin, cucumber juice, lemon, ginger beer) stands out as a refreshing tipple with light ginger-heat trace. Named after horticulturist and Scotsman John McLaren (and the South San Francisco park), who was responsible for the development of Golden Gate Park, the drink builds on Scottish Hendrick's Gin, appropriately botanical with cucumber and rose petals.
It may not be the most intricate cocktail on their lists, but the well-made drink is made even better by the friendly bar staff. Besides, sometimes a trip to the park shouldn't require more activity than relaxing on the grass, people-watching.
Park Tavern, 1652 Stockton (at Filbert), 989-7300