If you're looking for a perfectly served Johnnie Walker drink -- where everything's right from the ice to the garnish -- these bars will do you right, every time.
1. Wingtip550 Montgomery St, San Francisco
2. Clift Hotel495 Geary St, San Francisco
3. Clock Bar335 Powell St, San Francisco
4. Nihon Whisky Lounge1779 Folsom St, San Francisco
5. Rickhouse246 Kearny St, San Francisco
6. Bourbon and Branch501 Jones St, San Francisco
7. Twenty Five Lusk25 Lusk St, San Francisco
8. Local Edition691 Market St, San Francisco
9. Boulevard1 Mission St, San Francisco
10. Waterbar399 Embarcadero, San Francisco
With over 300 whiskies collected from around the globe, Wingtip has one of the best whiskey collections in the world. While it comes across as an old fashioned gentleman’s club, it's not, and we quote, "a bunch of guys in a steam room talking about what a raw deal Prohibition was." If you treat yourself to a membership, the perks are seemingly endless: access to the delightful "whisky corner," where you can spend hours sipping from rare bottles, golf simulator, game room, wine cave, parlor rooms, and a machismo vibe.
The CLIFT Hotel, located in the Tenderloin, is taking sleek and modern design to a whole new level.
This classy bar at the Westin St. Francis comes courtesy of mega chef Michael Mina, so as one might expect the bar food is beyond next-level, like lobster corn dogs with whole grain mustard aioli and glazed Korean wings with pickled daikon and bleu cheese. Of course, the steadily rotating menu of handcrafted cocktails made with local spirits and fresh produce hold up their end of the bargain, too.
You’ve died and gone to whisky heaven. With over 500 whisky selections -- both single malt and blended from Japan and Scotland alike -- Nihon is a whisky emporium-meets-Japanese izakaya in the Mission. The tapas-style menu includes classic sushi and sashimi plates plus snacks like grilled pork belly skewers and fried octopus balls.
While you won’t need a password to access the little brother of Bourbon and Branch, Rickhouse (also another name for a whiskey barrel warehouse) is one of the best places in the city for an after-work whiskey drink, especially if you can get a seat at the bar. This place is teeming with the brown stuff, from the ceiling made of staves from 300 barrels imported from Kentucky, to the walls of the bar back, which were sourced from a Prohibition-era nunnery in the Ozarks that distilled for "medicinal purposes", and, of course, the great rare whiskey finds, which you should ask a bartender to walk you through.
The goal of Bourbon and Branch is to take drinkers back to the speakeasy days of the Prohibition. To get in, you have to say a password into an intercom on one of the seedier stretches of the Tenderloin. Once the door opens (don't worry, it always does), you'll be ushered into a dark and cozy bar with hidden rooms, secret exit tunnels, candle-lit bookcases, and a fine collection of rare whiskey. The fact that there was an actual speakeasy at the location in the twenties helps make Bourbon and Branch one of the best secret bars in the city.
Housed in a brick and timber SoMa warehouse erected in 1917, Twenty Five Lusk, few San Francisco bars deliver this combination of staggering size and striking beauty, . with 20ft-high ceilings, ample plush leather seating, and, the piece de resistance: stainless steel hanging fireplaces. But avert your eyes from the ambiance for a second, because you'll have to choose from a selection of 250-plus wines and elevated fare like fried burrata or braised rabbit and chevre ravioli.
The decline of newspapers can really be traced back to two things: 1) the advent of nimbler, handsomer online email newsletter publications, and 2) their refusal to put cocktail bars in their basements. Finally addressing the latter, Local Edition, the newest member of the Rickhouse/Bourbon & Branch/Mr. Win Win's Broman Empire, opened in the basement of the Hearst Building and wants to welcome you and your friends with live music and cocktails.
Located within walking distance of the Embarcadero and the twinkling Bay Bridge lights, Boulevard is owned by Executive Chef Nancy Oakes and was a recipient of Zagat’s San Francisco Bay Area’s 'Most Popular Restaurant' award. Boulevard is upscale yet relaxed -- a perfect spot to take out-of-town relatives or host a celebration -- with a well-curated wine list and daily cheese selections. There are plenty of options for vegetarians, but the filet mignon and Kurobota pork chop are standouts.
Waterbar is a two-story restaurant on the Embarcadero with mind-numbing views of the Bay Bridge and Treasure Island. You come here for two reasons: to take in the aforementioned views and to eat oysters. The seafood-centric menu features all of that seasonal, locally sourced good stuff, but the best thing about Waterbar is the daily $1 oyster happy hour and chilled glasses of white wine.