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Drink 2014: Cocktail Listings 


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John's Grill: This landmark restaurant claims to be "home of the Maltese Falcon" — due to the fact that Dashiell Hammett was a John's Grill regular during the time he penned the iconic detective novel — and the building's second floor is a veritable shrine to Dash, Bogey, and the famous bird itself. The bar also features local jazz guitarists nightly, while the menu is rich with meaty American classics (including the Sam Spade Lamb Chops, of course). Like Spade himself says, it's "the stuff that dreams are made of." 63 Ellis, 986-0069,

Li Po Cocktail Lounge: Granted, the competition is slim, but Li Po is the hippest music venue in Chinatown. The dank little basement (below the divey old bar) hosts fringe punk, funk, electro, and rock for a fashionista set, in an environment that has all the cinematic charms of the shadowy old neighborhood. And the lounge's signature Chinese Mai Tais are as legendary as they are lethal. 916 Grant, 982-0072.

The Little Shamrock: A charming bit of San Francisco history, the Little Shamrock is one of the oldest bars in the city — and, thankfully, it hasn't felt the need to change much since it opened over a century ago. Local old-timers mingle with new neighbors, and sporty youngsters come in from Golden Gate Park (directly across the street) to sip affordable drinks while surrounded by comfortably worn old furniture and historical decor. You can also play a game of backgammon on the tables in front, shoot darts in the chalk-slathered back room, or simply pull up a stool to the vintage wood bar and catch up on current events. 807 Lincoln, 661-0060.

Local Edition: Stop the presses! If you ever dreamed of being a hard-nosed (and hard-drinking) newspaper editor from the mid-20th century, then this journo-themed bar on Market Street might be the place for you. Just remember that a few strong cocktails won't transform you from Clark Kent into Superman. 691 Market, 795-1975,

Martuni's: This very gay piano bar features pianists ranging from the classically trained to the classically cornball. Its solid reputation as a place to get tipsy and belt out a little Sondheim keeps its walls packed. But don't think that just anyone can step up to the mike — the tone-deaf are weeded out posthaste. On Sunday evenings, local drag celebrities take over the spotlight at 7 p.m. 4 Valencia, 241-0205,

Oddjob: From some of the guys who brought us Big, Public Works, and Jones comes another SOMA cocktail bar. The craft cocktail lounge can host 100-plus people and has a working steel conveyer belt beneath its bartop, as well as a funky machine that makes Corpse Reviver #2's. 1337 Mission,

The Orbit Room: Its interior might be a stylistic mash-up of 1930s Art Deco with 1980s avant-chic, but the Orbit Room's famous drinks are 100 percent indebted to the 21st century artisanal cocktail trend, with fresh, organic ingredients mixed into every glass. There's also a small menu of gourmet pizzas for sale in the evening until the "dough runs out" — although if you drink too many delicious $10 cocktails, your own dough may run out first. 1900 Market, 252-9525,

Pisco Latin Lounge: In mid-19th-century San Francisco, a new drink called Pisco Punch took the town by storm. This Peruvian brandy-infused cocktail inspired the Pisco Latin Lounge in Hayes Valley. It offers an updated take on the recipe (Peruvian vinas de oro, macerated pineapple, and pineapple gomme) as well as a delicious variety of pisco sours and mojitos. Sit at the long walnut bar or at a table, enjoy the colorfully lit, modern decor, and sample some small Latin American-influenced plates like empanadas, plantain chips, and sliders. 1817 Market, 874-9951,

Rickhouse: With its tall, swinging front porch doors, and an upstairs balcony that resembles an urban hayloft, the Rickhouse is downtown San Francisco's version of southern comfort. There are roughly 200 different kinds of whiskey available, but the bar's gin and vodka concoctions are just as inviting. Bartenders sporting paperboy hats and string suspenders mix 'em all up with fresh organic juices, bottled soda and berry and fruit infusions. The drink of choice is the Kentucky Buck (bourbon infused with strawberries, lemon, ginger beer and bitters); the novelty treat is the punch bowl, presented in vintage white-frosted glass. Waiting for a drink? Press your way to the second bar in the back. 246 Kearny, 398-2827,

The Royal Cuckoo: This former Mission dive (Belinda's, we hardly knew ye) has taken a sudden turn for the hip. New owners transformed the tiny space into a den of droll anachronistic culture, where vintage lamps cast a subtle glow over a collection of thrift-shop paintings, taxidermy animal heads, and half-quaint/half-quirky retro tchotchkes. You might find a local musician warming the keys of the electric organ in the corner, or perhaps a solo bluesman blowing on his harp, but otherwise the soundtrack comes via a dusty old record player: Simply flip through the repurposed library card catalog to find the title of your favorite LP of folksy Americana, classic jazz, trad Latin, tropical exotica, or "Novelty and Beyond," then tell the bartender to slap that platter on the turntable. The most modern thing in the Royal Cuckoo is its signature drink menu, so despite the hipster clientele, don't come here looking for the latest high-tech fad. The Royal Cuckoo is the rotary telephone of San Francisco bars. 3202 Mission, 550-8667,

Rye: The trend for rye cocktails was a short-lived affair, but this upmarket bar on Geary Street still packs 'em in on weekends. The "cocktail cage" smoking area is also unique in that it makes the drinkers seem like the ones on display, rather than the eye-candy passersby. 688 Geary, 474-4448,

The Saloon: Revered for its daily live blues performances, the Saloon also has the rugged distinction of having survived the 1906 earthquake and standing as the oldest bar in San Francisco (opened in 1861). With its rough aged-wood interior and hardy clientele, the Saloon definitely stands apart from its shiny new neighbors along this nightlife-rich stretch of North Beach. 1232 Grant, 989-7666,


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