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The 23 Essential San Francisco Bars: Spring 2018
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The 23 Essential San Francisco Bars: Spring 2018

1.  ABV

Spirits industry gurus Todd Smith, Ryan Fitzgerald and Erik Reichborn-Kjennerud opened ABV in 2014, with the laid-back bar immediately becoming a…
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2.  Aub Zam Zam

Aub Zam Zam, with its dingy, charming Arabian Nights–esque décor, is one of San Francisco’s treasures. It’s been open since 1941,…
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(image: Virginia Miller)

3.  Bellota

Jonny Raglin and bar manager Collin Nicholas stick to the Spanish script at Bellota, a chic restaurant in the Airbnb HQ…
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4.  Benjamin Cooper

Benjamin Cooper is among the best of S.F.’s cocktail bars, open since early 2015 and hidden upstairs near Union Square. The…
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5.  Bourbon & Branch

“Secret" passwords at the door and reservations-only and tired speakeasy rules are old news for die-hard cocktail fanatics. But Bourbon &…
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6.  Club Deluxe

Since 1989, Club Deluxe is arguably S.F.’s best jazz bar (Though Royal Cuckoo is another great for Hammond-organ-centric jazz). With blond…
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7.  Comstock Saloon

With the departure of bar greats Jeff Hollinger and Jonny Raglin, who opened Comstock Saloon and provided its heart and style…
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8.  Elixir

The space housing longtimer Elixir opened as a saloon way back in 1858. H. Joseph Ehrmann’s corner bar is intimate and…
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9.  Fat Angel

Fat Angel exemplifies the ideal neighborhood beer-and-wine bar. Since opening in 2010, its staff has been pouring rare draft beers and…
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10.  15 Romolo

With more than 500 spirits, a pioneering sherry menu and an in-house sherry expert, Ian J. Adams, North Beach’s 15 Romolo,…
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11.  Hard Water

Though part of Charles Phan’s restaurant group, focused on New Orleans–influenced dishes, Hard Water is also all about American whiskey, comprising…
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12.  Hideout

The secret was out long ago. But Hideout, hidden in the back of cool, longtime Mission dive Dalva, is a cocktail…
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13.  The Interval

The pioneering Long Now Salon has one of the coolest bars in this—or any—city, complete with salon talks and a library…
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14.  Mister Jiu’s

Head to the historic Mister Jiu’s space down a Chinatown alley for chef Brandon Jew’s modern Chinese cooking. The bar is…
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15.  Monk’s Kettle

In a town rife with celebrated beer bars, including the first United States outpost of Copenhagen’s Mikkeller bar, it’s tough to…
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16.  Punchdown

Since reopening in its newer digs in 2016, uptown Oakland wine bar Punchdown has become even more of a wine bar…
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17.  Rye

Open since 2006 by drink pioneers Jon Gasparini and Greg Lindgren (who also run Rye on the Road and 15 Romolo),…
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18.  The Sea Star

In the waterside ’hood of Dogpatch, The Sea Star’s space dates back to the 1800s, with a rich pre- and post-1906…
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19.  Smuggler’s Cove

The tiny, tri-level Smuggler’s Cove, which Tiki guru Martin Cate opened in 2009, is about as essential as it gets: the…
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20.  Specs’ Twelve Adler Museum Cafe

Located on the same North Beach block as institutions like Tosca Cafe and Vesuvio Cafe, Specs’ is a San Francisco icon…
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21.  Tommy’s

The one and only Tommy’s just celebrated its 50th year in 2015. The icon has been spreading the tequila gospel to…
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22.  True Laurel

Opened in December, True Laurel is already a destination-worthy bar. Take the chef (David Barzelay) and bar director (Nicolas Torres) of…
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23.  Wildhawk

Karri Cormican Kiyuna runs a stellar bartender team at Wildhawk, a bar that opened from Jacques Bezuidenhout and Ken Luciano of…
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