Travel

Bar crawl, shmar crawl. We're doing a Fernet crawl.

Joe Starkey Published On 06/04/2013 Published On 06/04/2013
Thrillist SF editor Joe Starkey drinking Fernet Branca
    Fact 1: SF single-handedly consumes around 35% of America's supply of Fernet Branca. Fact 2: Female marsupials have a double reproductive tract. Back to Fact 1: As the (un)official drink of bartenders and hardcore City-by-the-Bay-ers, FB has long deserved what we're finally giving it: a one-day, 14-stop crawl through the dive bars and highfalutin establishments that serve our favorite amaro in ways you never thought possible. But first... ... you definitely want to play this while reading. Stop One: Ever since you were a chubby kid in grammar school, you've had two mantras, "Dessert first" and "My mom says it's just baby fat that's gonna go away", so honor the first by grabbing Fernet mint chip ice cream made with chocolate nibs and crème de menthe (more booze) at Trick Dog. Stop Two: Swing by Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem for a glorious pour of the good stuff straight from their tap, then head back out to hit the road -- you have a long afternoon ahead of you. Stop Three: Time to head to one of the best restaurants in town... to completely ignore their food! Or don't; you might need some sustenance. Rich Coffee's Rich Table will give you the energy you need going forward with your crawl, combining Fernet, creme de cacao, Sightglass coffee, brown sugar, pistachio cream, and gold dust. Stop Four: Next stop, a favorite on the edge of the TL (do not venture further into that neighborhood), Jasper's Corner Tap & Kitchen. Their Mauna Loa's a rather tropical combo of Raynal Cognac, macadamia nut syrup, Marie Brizard crème de cacao, Fernet, and egg white. Stop Five: Don't worry, you don't have to take the stairs to reach the Palomar Hotel's cocktail lounge, Fifth Floor. After being out in the breezy elements all day, it's certainly a good time to warm up with the Miziers Demise: a Fernet hot chocolate that incorporates dark chocolate, crème de menthe, and a marshmallow infused with peppermint. Stop Six: Stumble Gracefully stroll over to acrobat-featuring steampunk club Monarch to be crowned with their Kingmaker, a combo of Rittenhouse rye and ginger beer with a shot of Fernet on the side. Stop Seven: Go North, young man, to Charlie Palmer's speakeasy-style cocktail lounge Burritt Room, where the Grumpy Uncle sports rye, Fernet, sherry, and cherry (hey, that rhymes!). Stop Eight: This stop serves a double purpose, as Tony's Pizza Napoletana has some of the city's best pizza, and will keep you on your Fernet roll with a spiked chocolate/vanilla swirl milkshake that definitely brings all the boys to the yard. Fernet on Tap Lightning Round!!!

    Stop 13: OK, you just threw down four shots of the stuff, so time for a cool-down period to wrap up the day at Haas Brothers, where an extremely rare bottle of Mexican Fernet Vallet (wha??) awaits. You know you're gonna need a little "curarse la cruda" for la manana.

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1. 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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2. 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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3. Rich Table 199 Gough St, San Francisco, CA 94102 (Hayes Valley)

Rich Table's reclaimed-wood decor belies its menu of eclectic American dishes, which range from rainbow trout and rabbit leg to hangar steak and cured hamachi. There's also an impressive wine list, a range of beers on tap and in bottles, and handcrafted cocktails.

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4. Jasper's Corner Tap & Kitchen 401 Taylor St, San Francisco, CA 94102

It's name along gives the impression that this Little Saigon spot might be a local dive plastered in graffiti and the sticky remnants of spilled beer, but Jasper's is the compete opposite. A clean-cut answer to less-than-desirable beer bars, this white leather palace rotates through 18 taps with craft beers from all along the West coast and offers upscale takes on standard bar food wth shareable plates of deviled eggs and greedy portions of sauce-slathered ribs and hearty meatloaf.

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5. Fifth Floor 12 4th St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Located in the Hotel Palomar, Fifth Floor slings classy "New American" cuisine with a lively bar, all of which you don't have to walk up five flights of stairs to get to (!).

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6. 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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7. Burritt Room + Tavern 417 Stockton St, San Francisco , CA 94108 (Union Square)

Located inside the Mystic Hotel, this place serves up handcrafted cocktails in a true speakeasy-style setting. The adjoining Burritt Tavern has a menu loaded with gourmet American cuisine, and there are special areas to accommodate both small and large parties, so go in with a group and prepare to be impressed.

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8. Tony's Pizza Napoletana 1570 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94133 (The Sunset)

Although the assortment of artisanal pizza varieties is the main attraction, Tony's also offers up a selection of Italian specialties and homemade pastas. If pizza's your thing, you'll appreciate the flavor that the 900 degree wood-fired oven lends to each slice.

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9. Soda Popinski 1548 California St, San Francisco, CA 94109 (Nob Hill)

This Russian-themed bar off of Polk Street is great for a gang of friends who are into dive bars, red-lighting, and pickle back shots. Soda Popinski has old-school Mario games to play and a “Russian Roulette"-- which, for the price of a nice cocktail, you can spin to win drink deals or a glass boot filled with a Moscow Mule. The bar also offers guest bartending for fundraising events, where all tips go to your charity of choice.

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10. Bullitt 2209 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109 (Russian Hill)

Bullitt's got a finely designed interior to match the retro coolness of the Steve McQueen flick it was named after. Sporting a sheet metal bar with low-hanging Edison bulbs and fine wood paneling, this Russian Hill district favorite's got and endless supply of bottled beer and food just as laid-back as the crowd who frequent it with a small selection of bar bites ideal for hardcore cheese-lovers. From the thick beef burgers, to the nachos, to the widely beloved tater tots, everything's covered head to toe in the stuff.

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11. Tonic 2360 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109 (Russian Hill)

Vodka gummy bears, East Coast-style pickle backs, and fish bowls filled with vodka, coconut rum, fruit juice & Swedish Fish all make Tonic one of the most popular places to party in Russian Hill. Beyond the weekend craziness, its weekday trivia is some of the best in the city.

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12. Lightning Tavern 1875 Union St, San Francisco, CA 94123 (Cow Hollow)

Unabashedly divey, Lighting Tavern carries Fireball, Fernet, tater tot nachos, and chicken wing buckets all in equal parts. Grab a seat on the outdoor patio to sip down bottomless mimosas as you prepare yourself for one of the booziest brunches in town (or dinners or happy hours). Even if you don't take advantage of the bottomless offer, the Scotch egg- and poutine-filled menu will have you overindulging in a different way.

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13. Haas Brothers 795 Folsom St, San Francisco, CA (Bayview)

Haas Brothers is an SF importer/marketer as well as a fine spirits distillery (imported and domestic).

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