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Cocktails by the Bay

No one is sure exactly when or where the first cocktail was made, but few cities in recent memory have embraced the mixed drink more than San Francisco. Maybe it is the thriving foodie scene and the access to amazing local produce and craft spirits; the city now boasts an ever-growing number of top bars and talented bartenders.

Next Tuesday is the start of the fourth annual San Francisco Cocktail Week, which not only celebrates the current generation of Bay Area bartenders but also the region’s long mixology history. In fact, the first event is the opening of the Boothby Center for the Beverage Arts, named for William “Cocktail” Boothby, a turn-of-the-century barman and author of the 1891 book American Bar-Tender.


But in case you can’t make it to San Francisco next week, we asked some of the city’s best bars for their signature drink recipes. From the Mission District’s historic Elixir comes the refreshing Country Thyme (thyme, lemon juice, blueberries, vodka), created by the saloon’s owner and Liquor.com advisor H. Joseph Ehrmann. (It’s pictured above.) We got Duggan McDonnell, owner of the monument to Latin drinking culture Cantina, to give us the recipe for his popular Blushing Lima #2 (pisco, ginger liqueur, Meyer lemon juice, egg white, port). And Jeff Hollinger and Jonny Raglin, owners of the Comstock Saloon, contributed their Saint’s Buck (brandy, St-Germain, lime juice, ginger beer).

So put on a Tony Bennett album and start mixing up some cocktails.

Country Thyme

Contributed by H. Joseph Ehrmann


  • 1 Thyme sprig
  • 10-15 Organic blueberries
  • Half an organic lemon, roughly chopped
  • 1.5 oz Square One Organic Vodka
  • .25 oz Organic agave nectar
  • Garnish: Thyme sprig
  • Glass: Highball or old fashioned


Place one small thyme sprig in the palm of your hand and slap it to release its oils. Twist it and place it in the bottom of a 10-ounce highball or old fashioned glass. Fill with ice and set aside. Muddle the blueberries and lemon in a shaker. Add the vodka and agave nectar, and fill with ice. Shake vigorously for 10 to 20 seconds and strain into the prepared glass. Take a nice large, pretty sprig of thyme and slap it before sticking it into the drink as a garnish. (If blueberries are out of season, use 2 teaspoons of high-quality blueberry preserves instead. You’ll have to adjust the amount of agave nectar depending on the sweetness of the preserves.)

Blushing Lima #2

Contributed by Duggan McDonnell


  • 1.5 oz Campo de Encanto Pisco
  • .5 oz Domaine de Canton
  • .75 oz Simple syrup (one part sugar, one part water)
  • 1 oz Meyer lemon juice
  • 1 Egg white
  • Port
  • Glass: Tall


Add all the ingredients except the port to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a tall glass filled with fresh ice. Top with a splash of port.

Saint’s Buck

Contributed by Jeff Hollinger & Jonny Raglin


  • .75 oz Fresh lime juice
  • .75 oz St-Germain
  • 1.5 oz Brandy
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Ginger beer
  • Garnish: Lime wedge
  • Glass: Collins


Add all the ingredients except the ginger beer to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake vigorously and strain into a Collins glass filled with fresh ice. Top with ginger beers and garnish with a lime wedge.

(Photo courtesy of Matthew Meier Photography)

Series & Type: Travel

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