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S.F. Has Three of the World’s 50 Best Bars 

Wednesday, Oct 14 2015
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We all know that Trick Dog shakes and stirs the premiere cocktails in all of San Francisco, right?

Wrong. At least that's what the rankings of The World's 50 Best Bars from Drinks International's academy of 400 industry experts believe.

Smuggler's Cove actually ranks highest among the trio of San Francisco bars, coming in at 31. Trick Dog is right behind them at no. 40, and Tommy's returns to the list, just making the cut at no. 47.

And yes, they're very different bars, showing the strength of our diverse drinking scene whether it's a tequila, a funky concoction, or tiki type of night. What do those bars have in common besides being on this list? These three consistently pour elite cocktails, and don't forget about the hospitality side. They deserve the applause.

So, how can this truly be a definitive list? It can't be. If restaurants are impossible to rank scientifically, then bars are even more different from bartender to bartender, night to night, drink to drink — unless we order 10 drinks from every bartender at every bar, that is. But this academy has street cred with San Francisco writers and bartenders.

I've been to 18 of the 50 bars and I have zero problem with any winners — except the 14th-place Broken Shaker in Miami Beach. (It's a decent bar with a friendly staff and passable drinks, but I can name 14 superior bars in San Francisco right this second.)

London is the best city anywhere for drinking cocktails, receiving nine nods altogether — including five in the top nine, plus the overall winner, Artesian. New York gets two silver medals with eight bars and second-place winning The Dead Rabbit Grocery & Grog. The U.S. overall has 14 bars. There are bars mentioned from Cyprus, Hamburg, Moscow, Tel Aviv, Puerto Rico, and Dubai. We can't all agree on this list, but we can all agree it's a great thing when you can get quality cocktails anywhere, even in Cyprus (!).

Should Alembic, Bar Agricole, Comstock, 15 Romolo, ABV, Devil's Acre, and Blackbird be on the list? I wouldn't argue. Should your favorite dive bar that specializes in vermouth-heavy Manhattan pours be on the list? If you say so.

Yes, I believe Trick Dog should be way higher overall. But I'll live. If there is anything I can say to really defend the list, it's my story of how a bartender at the sixth-place Baxter Inn in Sydney asked me to say "hi" to two bars in our city when I mentioned where I'm from while visiting Sydney recently. Those bars were, as you'd guess, Trick Dog and Smuggler's Cove. Even he knew of them. It's a small, small bar world.

And I bet if I ordered a margarita at that bar, it would've been the Tommy's recipe.

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Trevor Felch

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