Early February is a perfectly serviceable time for getting drunk with your friends, but everybody knows that summer is really the superior inebriation season. Marine layer or heat wave, here are the cocktails that best remind us of beach balls and endless vacation.
Whether or not Dolores Park's renovation wraps up, you're still going to find yourself there every weekend. However, when the fog comes rolling in, make your way two blocks east to Hawker Fare to keep up that summer vibe. This new Asian street food restaurant on 18th and Valencia has a killer cocktail lineup with intriguing names such as Floyd Pepper and the Samoan Fogcutter. The latter is as a "classic tiki drink" that features not-so-classic ingredients such as Lustau brandy, Miller's gin, and Small Hand Foods orgeat. Be sure to pop upstairs for a close encounter Hawker Fare's James Bond-themed bar. 690 Valencia St., 415-400-5699 or hawkerfare.com
You know Stookey's Club Moderne takes a cool approach when the menu on its site is listed as "The Cocktail Program." The post-Prohibition-themed lounge may not be a time machine, but it's the closest thing to reliving 1933. While reminiscing about how rich you were in the '20s, imbibe such summery libations as the exotic El Presidente (Plantation 3 Stars rum, Señor Curaçao, Dolin Blanc vermouth, and Regan's orange bitters) and Stookey's sophisticated versions of classics such as the Mai Tai and the Pisco Punch. 895 Bush St., 415-771-9695 or stookeysclubmoderne.com.
Upon laying eyes on the Devil's Acre's menu, you realize you're in for something special. Each path to cocktail enlightenment is equipped with either an insightful 100-year-old quote or the name of the drink's creator. Located in sun-drenched North Beach, the Sherry Cobbler (sherry, lemon-lime syrup, pebble ice, seasonal fruit, and mint) should be your go-to refreshment on those balmy 67-degree days. Or just ask what one Harry Johnson thought of it: "Without a doubt the most popular beverage in the country, with ladies as well as gentlemen." 256 Columbus Ave., 415-766-4363 or thedevilsacre.com.
This is no token East Bay alternative. We can't blame you if you prefer your summer weather with actual sun in it, and your tropical alcohol destination is just a BART ride away. On the corner of 14th and Harrison, Longitude provides a virtual-reality Caribbean beach experience. You won't know you're downtown once an Exotica (three types of rum, coffee, citrus, falernum) and the Navy Grog (three types of rum, lime and grapefruit juice, and Caribbean spices) crosses the blood-brain barrier. 347 14th St., Oakland, 510-465-2008 or longitudeoakland.com
Situated just east of the fog line in the Haight, you won't find a better oasis for cocktail hedonism than Alembic, where a murderer's row of summery drinks will make you want to trade that North Face jacket for a Hawaiian shirt. The Switched at Birth (gin, Mandarine Napoléon, honey, lemon, cucumbers, shiso and sparkling wine) and the Southern Exposure (gin, fresh mint, a touch of sugar, and a shot of fresh celery juice) come highly recommended from the staff. 1725 Haight St., 415-666-0822, or alembicbar.com.