A Tour of Cocktails in San Francisco

I have to be honest that I am thrilled to live in a time where craft cocktails are a major trend. While I do enjoy a vodka tonic from time to time it is much more of an experience to drink a French 75 or a new concoction created by the bartender. San Francisco is a prime city to explore some of your favorites and try something new as well.

Here are some of my favorite spots to enjoy a quality cocktail around the city although there are of course many more worth a try. Lately, I’ve been enjoying a great gin concoction so all of these places highlight some great gin options.

A Drink with a View

A tour of some of the best cocktails spots in San Francisco. From Top of the Mark to Bourbon & Branch. Enjoy a craft cocktail while exploring the city. Start just before sunset and enjoy one of the best views in the city. My favorite of these sky high bars is  Top of the Mark at the Intercontinental. The view is remarkable, whether enjoying an afternoon with the fog rolling in or the sunset. You can see just about every landmark in the city including both bridges and Alcatraz. The cocktails aren’t cheap so you don’t want to spend your entire night here but the $14 cocktails are great and with the view definitely worth the cost.

Other good options include the Starlight Room at the Sir Francis Drake, and while I have yet to go, the SF View Lounge at the Marriot Marquis is getting good reviews.

Crafting a Quality Cocktail

Drinks Dirty Habit San FranciscoNext, find a high-quality cocktail in a casual environment. If the weather is good hop over to Dirty Habit on the rooftop of the Palomar Hotel. They have a variety of creative cocktails including seasonal offering. It is a relaxing place to catch up with friends.

If the fog has rolled in try Rickhouse, a handful of blocks away. At this spot if it isn’t too busy enjoy chatting with the bartender and ask them to make you up something special. They rotate their cocktail list but will make you just about anything. They can get pretty busy but head upstairs to the little loft, grab a seat and people watch over tasty cocktails.

What’s The Password?

A tour of some of the best cocktails spots in San Francisco. From Top of the Mark to Bourbon & Branch. Enjoy a craft cocktail while exploring the city. Have you ever been to a real speakeasy? While since they don’t exist anymore Bourbon & Branch, a San Francisco institution, is about as close as you can get. Outside you will find a sign for “Anti-Saloon League”. The cocktails are classic prohibition drinks with lots of whiskey and gin. It is a fun environment from the Library to the main bar.

There are multiple layers to each bar within Bourbon and Branch. The most common place to visit is the library, which you can go to without a reservation and only need to know the password “books”. To visit any of the other rooms you will either need a reservation or be with a private group. Thrillist has a great breakdown and how to here.

Closing out the night

Head back to your favorite spot, stop at the hotel bar or grab an espresso to finish up your night. There are always more places to try in a city like San Francisco. What are your favorite cocktail spots in the city? Should my next cocktail tour focus on tequila, tropical drinks or what? And if you’re looking for more things to do in San Francisco don’t forget to check out the Traveling Nine to Fiver To Do List.

For more information about San Francisco check out these great books on Amazon including 111 Places in San Francisco That You Must Not MissLonely Planet San Francisco, and Fodor’s San Francisco.

About Megan

Megan MacNee is the founder of Traveling Nine to Fiver. From nine to five she works in the non-profit world in California. She focuses on exploring the world from her own backyard to across the globe. You'll find her sharing about explorations through food, books, travel, and more.