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Black Sands Brewery's Quinine 'N Pine (photo credit: Virginia Miller)


Aatxe's Rooster's Song (photo credit: Virginia Miller)

Drink This Now: 8 cocktails to try in SF right now

We like to drink almost as much as we like to eat, so we decided it was time for a little libation research. After one too many, we landed on the 8 cocktails worth your time.

Black Sands' Quinine 'N Pine
This brand-new spot is a brewery and restaurant—with a killer cheeseburger and bites—but thanks to a drinks menu created by Nicolas Torres (also bar manager at Lazy Bear), the cocktails are just as much a draw. On recent warm days, the Quinine ‘N Pine goes down all too easy. This well-balanced mix of Genepy herbal alpine liqueur, La Gitana Manzanilla Sherry, lime, a house cherry-pine shrub, and tonic is oh-so subtly tart, pine-y, and invigorating.

NINEBARK's Deli Counter
Located in the enchanting, three-floored space formerly occupied by The Thomas/Fagiani's, NINEBARK has taken downtown Napa by storm since opening at the end of September. With Michelin-starred chef Matthew Lightner from NY's Atera at the helm, NY cocktail pioneer Eben Freeman handles the drinks menu, and the savory notes in her Deli Counter shine. The Absolut Elyx vodka is bracing and briny, with dry vermouth, house pastrami, and pickle juice.

Chino's Golden Eye
Bar manager Danny Louie continues to turn out Asian-influenced cocktail stunners at Chino, which are now paired with new chef Ron Pei’s better-than-ever, playful-yet-refined Chinese food. Louie's new Golden Eye combines the earthy juiciness of red and golden beets with the herbal notes of SF's own 209 Gin, aquavit (an herbal Scandinavian liquor), ginger, and lemon. It's lovely with dumplings, or with dishes like steamed gulf flounder.

Aatxe's Rooster's Song
Seamless, dry, and even sweet—ie: the perfect after-dinner drink—the Rooster’s Song fits in beautifully with the inspired menu at Aaxte. Rounds of tapas accompanied by Spanish wines, ciders, and beers already transport you to Spain. But then you sip this mix of Lustau Gran Reserva brandy, Cappelletti Aperitivo, Byrrh Aperitif, and a subtle tomato tincture, and you find yourself relocated anew to a coastal town (think San Sebastian).

Beer Meets Spirit Ch. 1 at Sessions
Opened this summer in the beautiful Presidio, Sessions is a dining and beer destination with over 100 bottles and 24 beers on tap, the list created by master cicerone Nicole Erny. Bar manager Jordan Spaulding will steer you right on cocktails, too, namely a beer cocktail (no surprise) called “Beer Meets Spirit Ch. 1.” A Japanese Belgian-style white beer—Suiyoubi no Neko (Wednesday’s Cat) from YO-HO Brewing Company—plays with the malty botanicals of Bols Genever from Holland while combining with dry curaçao, lime, orange, and celery bitters. It all comes served in a beer glass for a wheat and orange–dominant splash.

Devil’s Acre's Con El Humo
Devil's Acre, a spacious, romantic North Beach bar, pulls from old-school pharmacies and apothecaries, putting 19th century-style tinctures and remedies on its delightful drink list. Go off-menu for a mezcal treasure from bartender Eric Giardina—who also imports beautiful barware, bitters and syrups from Mexico at Puro Burro. The Con El Humo (“With Smoke”) is a tall refresher of Nuestra Mezcal that gets a bright-bitter tinge from Aperol, floral-citrus-sweet notes from house orange syrup and California Grand Poppy Liqueur, and a whisper of effervescence from citric phosphate.
Please note: Cocktail is not on menu but is available upon request.

Nostra Spaghetteria and Bar Mia's Cold & Foggy
Just opened on September 1, Nostra Spaghetteria serves soul-warming pastas and other Italian dishes, plus a ridiculously good burger topped with chef Alexander Alioto's famed egg raviolo. Within the restaurant, Bar Mia’s bar manager Adam Madigras uses Italian amaro and other spirits to fine effect in his drink pairings. The Cold & Foggy is an easy sipper that doesn’t let the ginger beer overpower it. Instead, Madigras ensures herbal-ginger balance with Humboldt Brewing's Nectar IPA beer, lemon, and Averna Amaro.

Belga's Devil's Advokaat
Opened in May 2015, Belga is dominating Cow Hollow with its destination-worthy beer library and hearty, gourmet Belgian/French/Germanic food. But thanks to a talented bar team, the cocktails have a draw of their own. Currently, France meets Scandinavia in their Devil’s Advokaat, a French brandy cocktail laced with the wintery spice of glogg (a Nordic mulled wine), then lightened with egg white and lemon, with fresh-shaved nutmeg bringing the aromatics.

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