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Food & Drink

Best Mixed Drinks 

Levende Lounge

1710 Mission (at Duboce), 864-5585, www.levendesf.com

Many places claim to have created their own mixed-drink recipes, but most of those concoctions taste suspiciously like a mai tai or a Cosmopolitan under a different name. Levende, however, has invented some truly cool ones. Try the Effen Cherry Bomb (black cherry vodka and crushed brandied cherries) or the Green My Eyes (sake with cucumber and "sweetness") or one of the other drinks that infuse ginger, mango, and peach into various libations. You'll pay more for a beverage here than at many bars around town ($7 to $10), but once you've had a carefully made cocktail with hand-squeezed fruit and top-shelf liquor, you'll understand why. Levende's bartenders are like surgeons in their careful, patient handiwork in mixing drinks, and in their extensive knowledge of what not to mix with what. DJs spin most nights, and the bar itself is cozy and funky, with overstuffed cushions and sexy low tables. Any true cocktail enthusiast would be a sucka to miss this place.

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