An editor's guide to drinking around town
San Francisco
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By the time you're done reading this sentence, 78 shots of fernet will have been consumed across SF. Of course the only reason it wasn't 79 shots is because you're too overwhelmed by all of your options to actually pick a spot to procure said bitter, medicinal, myrrh-scented amaro. And that's why Executive Editor Kevin Alexander is here with his picks for the best spots in San Francisco for getting your booze on.

Best for Work: Though the bar at Prospect gets an honorable mention for their Reckless Abandon cocktail (seriously, it has gin and root beer and black pepper and other stuff) and Pasilla chili cheese dip, I give the nod to Press Club. The all-wood interior will make you look important and classy, and the beer menu includes rare finds like easy-to-pronounce HaandBryggeriet "Krekling" ale from Norway, and so many of the sour beers that the CEOs of major companies are reported to love.

Best Drink: Anjan Mitra, the owner of DOSA, is one of those effortlessly cool guys you kind of want to hate, if you weren't so busy trying to make him your friend. He's also a devoted gin aficionado, meaning the cocktail list at his South Indian restaurants (one in Lower Pac Heights, and one in the Mission) features an extensive and well-curated mix of gin drinks (NOTE: I like me some gin drinks). My two favorite are the Peony (made with Plymouth gin, hibiscus masala nectar, coconut milk, lime, and extra bird's eye chili) and the South Indian Gin & Tonic, which features their own specially crafted Blade gin, and house-made fig/cardamom tonic water.

Best Cocktail Bar: Trick Dog. I actually didn't want to pick Trick Dog, the undisputed newest darling of the SF cocktail scene, launched to great fanfare and hype by the Bon Vivant guys next to Central Kitchen and Salumeria, and within cocktail-tossing distance of Flour + Water. But it just kind of is the best cocktail bar in the city right now, and to go against it strictly to be contrarian would not be cool, even if it actually would kind of be the cool thing to do. Anyway, get the Pantone cocktail or the Straw Hat, and the beer nuts soaked in Miller High Life, chillies and orange zest. Also, go early. Ideally on a weekday.

Best Beer Bar: There is a devoted and extensive population of SF craft beer junkies that would be angered by any pick other than Toronado in Lower Haight, which is the OG of the craft beer scene, and keeps an extensive and highly curated list of 47 or so usually obscure and oftentimes awesome brews. But the scene in there can get a little intense, with people trying to out-do each other for "Most Knowledgeable Beer Person", so I'd opt for Monk's Kettle in the Mission. They've got 200 rotating beers (24 on tap, around 180 in bottles) and a friendly staff who actively want to engage you, and they won't contemplate shivving you for using a credit card.

Best Wine Bar: Jamber Wine Pub. The bro-sis team behind it offer up all wines on tap in four different sizes (1/2 glass, glass, 1/2 jug, jug), don't bother with fancy stemware, keep a good beer list for the grape averse, and offer up snacks like poutine, and Parm & rosemary mashed tater tots. Name another wine place with poutine, friends. NAME ONE!

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Best Local Beer: Pacific Brewing Lab's Nautilus. Several years ago, we threw a party with the dudes from Pac Brewing Lab, back when they were just making beer in a garage in SOMA, and couldn't legally sell it, so they would give it away for free twice a week. But now they can legally sell it, and you'll see a couple of their beers in choice spots all around town. My favorite is the traditional Belgian Saison, which is "made with coriander, bitter orange, and hibiscus flowers." And, yeah, it's pink. What of it?!?

Best Brewery: With respect to 21st Amendment in SOMA, and Southern Pacific Brewing in the Mission, the recently opened Speakeasy Tap Room is kind of the best place to enjoy a post-tour Big Daddy IPA. Also, I don't want to blow anyone's mind, but the place LOOKS LIKE A SPEAKEASY!

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Best Club: I'm going to level with you here. I don't go to clubs anymore. So anything I recommend here is going to come across as false and potentially misleading. That said, go to Monarch! That's a club, right?

Best for Partying: Double Dutch. I may not go to clubs, but I DO go to places aimed exclusively at people born in the '80s who'll freak out when they hear old Nas, Wu-Tang, and Tribe Called Quest songs.

Most Local: The Hideout at Dalva. Dalva is a mildly divey Mission bar. But if you head to the way back, past the bathroom, it turns into ANOTHER kind of less-divey, tiny cocktail bar with great booze drinks. I like to sit at said bar, order fernet shots with a Coronita, and tell people about the time I met John Stamos in a hotel gym.

Best Place to Day Drink: Red's Java House is not a bar. It is an old-school burger place that's been sitting on an abandoned pier on the Embarcadero since 1958. But if you head to the back patio, there is, indeed, a bar, and you can linger out there in the sun drinking Bloody Marys and Red beers long after you've finished your double cheeseburger. Also, get a double cheeseburger.

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Best Jukebox: Churchill. You should go to Churchill because it kind of looks like the inside of a ship, it has a solid cocktail list, and it has a pool table in the back. Or you should go to Churchill because their jukebox has Camp Lo's album Uptown Saturday Night on it, and you can play "Luchini (aka This Is It)" six times in a row, and text all your high school friends about it, and then be disappointed when none of them are as excited as you are.

Best Outdoor Spot: Biergarten. With respect to Zeitgeist, the biker-bar-cum-outdooor-beer-garden, Biergarten is SF's favored outdoor drinking facility. It's not much to look at -- just long communal tables surrounded by a chain-link fence in Hayes Valley -- but the authentic German beers and bar food from the famed Suppenkuche people mean that whenever it's sunny, the place is packed as soon as it opens. Oh, and also, they've got blankets for when SF's fickle deal with Mother Nature sours.

Hottest Girls: Mayhem. This is kind of a loaded question, and completely subjective, and the right move is likely to just say "pass". But yeah, Mayhem tends to attract aesthetically pleasing girls from the Marina who want to "get edgy" by going out in the Mission. And, um, yeah okay I'm stopping now.

Easiest Place to Get Laid: Hi-Fi Lounge. It smells weird, especially if it's light out. It has a dance floor in the back. It sits on Lombard. But people get really sweaty and sloppy here, and girls always seem to go there for birthday and bachelorette parties, and, well, look, I told you I don't go to clubs.

Best for Work: Though the bar at Prospect gets an honorable mention for their Reckless Abandon cocktail (seriously, it has gin and root beer and black pepper and other stuff) and Pasilla chili cheese dip, I give the nod to Press Club. The all-wood interior will make you look important and classy, and the beer menu includes rare finds like easy-to-pronounce HaandBryggeriet "Krekling" ale from Norway, and so many of the sour beers that the CEOs of major companies are reported to love.

Best Drink: Anjan Mitra, the owner of DOSA, is one of those effortlessly cool guys you kind of want to hate, if you weren't so busy trying to make him your friend. He's also a devoted gin aficionado, meaning the cocktail list at his South Indian restaurants (one in Lower Pac Heights, and one in the Mission) features an extensive and well-curated mix of gin drinks (NOTE: I like me some gin drinks). My two favorite are the Peony (made with Plymouth gin, hibiscus masala nectar, coconut milk, lime, and extra bird's eye chili) and the South Indian Gin & Tonic, which features their own specially crafted Blade gin, and house-made fig/cardamom tonic water.

Best Cocktail Bar: Trick Dog. I actually didn't want to pick Trick Dog, the undisputed newest darling of the SF cocktail scene, launched to great fanfare and hype by the Bon Vivant guys next to Central Kitchen and Salumeria, and within cocktail-tossing distance of Flour + Water. But it just kind of is the best cocktail bar in the city right now, and to go against it strictly to be contrarian would not be cool, even if it actually would kind of be the cool thing to do. Anyway, get the Pantone cocktail or the Straw Hat, and the beer nuts soaked in Miller High Life, chillies and orange zest. Also, go early. Ideally on a weekday.

Best Beer Bar: There is a devoted and extensive population of SF craft beer junkies that would be angered by any pick other than Toronado in Lower Haight, which is the OG of the craft beer scene, and keeps an extensive and highly curated list of 47 or so usually obscure and oftentimes awesome brews. But the scene in there can get a little intense, with people trying to out-do each other for "Most Knowledgeable Beer Person", so I'd opt for Monk's Kettle in the Mission. They've got 200 rotating beers (24 on tap, around 180 in bottles) and a friendly staff who actively want to engage you, and they won't contemplate shivving you for using a credit card.

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1. Southern Pacific Brewing 620 Treat Ave, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

We love Southern Pacific Brewing because you can sit outside in the sun while sipping your beer. However, if you have a backyard that’s even better for beer-sipping and sun-sitting, you can get a 2L growler and take it to go filled with one of the six house beers for the price of a pitcher ($11-$21). The only catch is you’ll have to buy one of their growlers, which will set you back $7.

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2. 21st Amendment 563 2nd St, San Francisco, CA 94107 (Soma)

Chances are that you can buy cans of 21st Amendment’s beer at your corner store, but let’s be real: beer fresh from the tap will always taste better. So head to the restaurant, where you can get growlers to take home with you, and drink while wearing naught but your underwear. 21st You can buy a 2L growler for $12 and a 32oz “growlette” for $6, or you can bring your own for them to fill. Prices vary depending on the beer, but it’s usually around $18-$24 for the 2L and $10 for the 32oz. (And yes, you can also get your growler filled at their San Leandro Brewery.)

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3. Trick Dog 3010 20th St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

Brought to you by The Bon Vivants, Trick Dog in The Mission's a marble- and steel-adorned cocktailery serving drinks from a Pantone-inspired menu with names from favorite song titles, along with bar bites like beer nuts, pickles, and cracklins.

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4. Prospect 300 Spear St, San Francisco, CA 94105 (Soma)

Sustainable and organic ingredients are the focus at this upscale yet casual restaurant in SOMA, with a daily rotating menu highlighting local seafood and farm fare in dishes like hamachi crudo with salted pineapple or Dungeness crab and avocado salad. Hit the bar for snacks like jalapeno deviled eggs or surf & turf chicharrones, or if you're in a hurry there's a daily rotating grab 'n go sandwich available.

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6. Dosa 995 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

Dosa began its tenure as a beacon of brilliant South Indian cooking when it opened in the Mission more than a decade ago. It's still the best Indian cuisine in the city, and restaurant's namesake dosas are made from inventive fusion batters and served with fresh coconut and tomato chutneys and sambar, a lentil and vegetable dipping sauce. The restaurant also has excellent cocktails, especially the Gin and Tonic made with house-made fig and cardamom tonic.

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7. Toronado 547 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117 (Lower Haight)

If you love beer, you'll love Toronado, thanks to the fact that it was at the forefront of the craft beer movement in the ‘80s and even more thanks to the 45 rotating beers on tap. The Lower Haight bar specializes in local California beer, but there are usually some brews from Colorado, the East Coast, and Belgium. It's next door to Rosamunde, so the smart move is to order a sausage and wash it down with whatever's on tap. Note, Toronado is cash-only.

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8. Monk’s Kettle 3141 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

At this gastropub in The Mission, beer is the total focus. Their specialty is Belgian beers, though the list has 200 rotating beers for every palate. Monk’s Kettle has coolers set at 45, 50, and 55 degrees to ensure your brew is served at the right temperature, and the entire keg system is cleaned every two weeks so the beer always tastes its best. Food includes everything from bar bites like chile- and honey-roasted hazelnuts, to more substantial fare like dry-aged beef loin with blue cheese potato gratin. Not sure what to order? The staff is knowledgeable and friendly and totally willing to help you figure it out. We’d also be remiss if we didn’t point out that the seasonally driven pub fare is quite tasty.

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9. Jamber Wine Pub 858 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA 94103 (Soma)

Jamber isn't a typical wine bar, it's a wine pub. All of the wines are from California, and they're all on tap. There are also over 10 beers on tap, also from California. To top it off, the SOMA spot has a really, really good food menu with things like mac & cheese pizza, poutine, and bacon-wrapped meatloaf. Oh, and one more thing: Jamber opens at 11:30am during the week and has outlets for your computer, so it's kind of the perfect place to wine and work.

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10. Speakeasy Tap Room 1195 Evans Ave, San Francisco, CA 94124 (Bayview)

You can couple a visit to this brewery mainstay's tap room with a tour on Saturdays if you book 24-hours in advance, or if you just want to head straight for the beer, that's cool too! You'll find a dozen rotating taps and growler fills (which are 20% off on Thirsty Thursdays).

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11. Monarch 101 6th St, San Francisco, CA 94103 (Soma)

Located on not-at-all-dangerous(-if-you-go-during-the-daytime-and-have-a-bodyguard-and-a-taser) 6th St, this steampunk club pairs a booming downstairs dance space with a slightly less-booming classy upstairs bar, complete with sexy lady acrobats dangling from the ceiling.

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12. Double Dutch 3192 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103 (The Mission)

The words "great" and "wall" should never have been used without being followed by "of jam boxes" because that's the precedent Double Dutch has established. The old-school atmosphere, coupled with the DJ spinning '80s and '90s hip-hop, will get you bouncing with nostalgia in no time.

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13. Hideout (at Dalva) 3121 16th St, San Francisco, CA 94103 (The Mission)

Hideout (at Dalva) is the drinking equivalent of a Russian nesting doll. If you're having a few with the crowd inside Dalva, but feel the need for a quieter, more intimate atmosphere, simply slip deeper into the back. There you'll find Hideout, a minuscule but thoroughly enjoyable craft-cocktail bar where expert drinksmiths will create alcoholic delicacies to your heart's desire.

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14. The Java House Restaurant Pier 40 Embarcadero, San Francisco, CA 94107 (Embarcadero)

Is your idea of the perfect day soaking in the warm sun amid a gentle breeze blowing in from the blue waters of a bay before you, while friendly folks serve you reasonably priced food that's tasty to boot? If you answered yes and are near the Bay Area, the Java House might be your haven.

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15. Churchill 198 Church St, San Francisco, CA 94114 (Duboce Triangle)

Named after Sir Winston, Churchill's a WWII-inspired drinkery from the dudes behind Bloodhound and Double Dutch, set on quenching your thirst in a space replete with industrial lighting pulled from a factory in Belgium, massive metal pipes that double as pillars, and dozens of shipyard-thick ropes hanging loosely from the ceiling above the bar.

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16. Biergarten 424 Octavia St, San Francisco, CA 94102 (Hayes Valley)

With those quintessential large mugs, sausages and sauerkraut, long picnic tables in the sun (hopefully), and a rotating selection of impressive German beers, it’s everything you want in a beer garden. It’s owned by the masterminds behind Suppenküche, so you know you can bank on them having a way with Teutonic suds and snacks. With no roof, it’s not the ideal spot for a rainy day pint, but you’ll be clamoring for a space come summertime.

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17. Zeitgeist 199 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94103 (The Mission)

Zeitgeist is a fascinating combo of a dive and a biergarten that houses an eclectic blend of friendly patrons who are all there for the same reasons: to sample a bodacious variety of beer, enjoy the nice weather on the numerous outdoor picnic tables, or slug an award-winning Bloody Mary (and in many cases, all three).

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18. Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem 2323 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110 (The Mission)

Although inspired by the famed Muppet band, this place is about as devoid of Muppets as you can get. What they do have, however, is cheap wings, liquor on tap and beers served in Mason jars. We think this more than makes up for a little Hensonless-ness.

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19. HiFi Lounge 2125 Lombard St, San Francisco, CA 94123 (The Marina)

If you fail to have fun at HiFi Lounge, you'd best stay home in your parent's basement and work on your lint collection. This place aims for the party target and hits the bull's-eye. The crowd is young, the music is solid and the drinks are ever so cheap.

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