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27 San Francisco Cocktails You Need to Drink This Summer

It's important to have goals.

By / June 7, 2017
   Daisy Barringer.
   Daisy Barringer.

You probably have really big plans this summer. Maybe you’re going to go on a couple of road trips. Find a friend with a boat. Ride your bike to Sausalito. Hike Mount Diablo. Hang out on the beach in Stinson. And, sure, those are admirable goals. But you might as well forget about all of them, because now you have a new goal and it’s to drink every single adult beverage on this list, all of which will fill you with the feeling of summer, and all of which are very delicious.

Maven

The Zelda Fitzgerald, $12
Maven
We knew Zelda Fitzgerald was F. Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, but we did not know she was a huge fan of vodka lemonades. The people behind the bar at Lower Haight’s Maven, however, knew just that and created this “dressed up vodka lemonade” as a tribute to her. The lavender, which is only in season June through August, gives it even more of a summery twist.

A Mano

Wallbanger, $12
a Mano
This new Hayes Valley Italian spot is light and bright when the sun is out thanks to floor-to-ceiling windows, and the Wallbanger (vodka, mango, pineapple, mint, Galliano) is the perfect summer treat to enjoy at the bar, even more so because it’s made with fresh produce.

Starbelly

Pimm’s Cup, $9
Starbelly
Sit on the patio of this Castro favorite and sip on a light, fresh Pimm’s Cup made with house-made Pimm’s, ginger, cava, lime, cucumber, and basil. The only problem is that it’s so light and refreshing, the first one goes down fast. And the second one goes down… just as fast.

Bergerac

Nellcôte Studio, $12
Bergerac
Find a seat on one of the plush leather sofas in this SoMa spot and then order a Nellcôte Studio (saffron-infused tequila, Aperol, passion fruit puree, and habanero agave with a cayenne pepper/black lava salt rim). It will make you wish you were sipping it on a tropical beach watching the sun go down, but simultaneously totally happy you’re enjoying the bohemian living room vibe of this cocktail hideaway.

EPIC Steak

The Pensive, $13
EPIC Steak
Giants outfielder Hunter Pence and wife Alexis celebrated their wedding at EPIC Steak this past fall, and The Pensive (Mount Gay “Black Barrel” Rum, soda, fresh pineapple, and lime) was their signature cocktail at their “Harry Potter meets Game of Thrones”-themed reception. EPIC Steak debuted it for anyone to drink on Opening Day; it’s available daily by the glass and at weekend brunch by the pitcher.

The St. Regis San Francisco

Summer of Love Cocktails, $16.50
St. Regis San Francisco’s Lobby Lounge
You’ve probably noticed that SF is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, which means there are a lot of cocktails right now with that theme, but we especially appreciate the creativity of these three from St. Regis San Francisco: Purple Daze (Junipero Gin, fresh blackberries, egg white, blackberry sage simple syrup, St. George Absinthe), White Rabbit’s Revenge (Zaya Rum, honey, lemon juice, muddled ginger), and Ashbury 710 (Hendrick’s Gin, Amaro Montenegro, lemon juice, muddled cucumber).

We really want to assume you can figure out the meaning behind the names yourself, but just in case it’s all a little before your time:

Purple Daze: Inspired by “Purple Haze” by Jimi Hendrix.
White Rabbit’s Revenge (pictured): Inspired by “White Rabbit” by Jefferson Airplane.
Ashbury 710: The address of the house where the Grateful Dead lived during the height of that summer.

Alembic

Spring Assassin $13
Alembic
This drink (el silencio mezcal, blood orange shrub, lemon, agave, jalapeno) is the perfect way to assassinate the end of spring and start summer off with a jalapeno kick.

Grace Sager

Frozen Negroni, $13
Lazlo and Foreign Cinema
Bar Manager Nicky Beyries says of this Frozen Negroni (Nolet Silver gin, fresh grapefruit juice, and Cocchi Americano), which is made in a slushee machine and garnished with a blood orange wheel: “It’s a fun play on a classic Negroni build, but ready for summer weather and patio drinking. The juiciness of the grapefruit plays well with the bitter edge from the Campari and the traditional sweet vermouth is exchanged for a drier aromatized wine, making it bright, vivacious, and refreshing.” We absolutely concur.

Pacific Cocktail Haven

The Lucky Melon, $13
Pacific Cocktail Haven
Leave it to bartender extraordinaire Kevin Diedrich to come up with a summer cocktail that’s total SF because it’s also a little winter. The Lucky Melon (H by Hine Cognac, cantaloupe, citrus, macadamia orgeat, aperol, salt) has melon and citrus notes and pretty flower garnishes, but it’s also made with cognac, which is not only popping up everywhere lately, but is also the perfect spirit to warm you up when the fog rolls in.

The Dorian

The Dorsey Sour, $12
The Dorian
Summer is all about the beach reads, and there are no better crime capers than those by American novelist Tim Dorsey, to whom this cocktail pays tribute. The Dorsey Sour (bourbon whiskey, fresh in-house pressed pineapples, fresh lime juice, cayenne pepper, pinot noir, and dark rum) is a refreshing and tropical take on a whiskey sour, but if that’s not enough to convince you, know that it’s garnished with a tropical pineapple print straw and a couple of pineapple gummy bears. Go in at happy hour and it’s yours for $9.

Dirty Habi

From My Garden, $15
Dirty Habit
If the sun comes out on a summer day in SF, head directly to the roof bar at Dirty Habit and order a From My Garden (Aylesbury Vodka, basil, cucumber, lime, spiced balsamic syrup, and topped with soda), which celebrates the best of summer’s bright, fresh ingredients and highlights the flavors of an actual garden that even you could (maybe) grow.

RN74

Fleur D’Or, $14
RN74
There are two reasons to head to RN74 this summer. First, it won’t be around much longer, as it’s going to eventually be replaced by Ayesha Curry’s new restaurant, International Smoke. Second, the Fleur D’Or (Absolut Elyx, Darjeeling tea, St. Germain liqueur, Meyer lemon), which is very reminiscent of an Arnold Palmer (or a John Daly, as it were). What’s more summery than that?

La Mar

Summer Fizz, $14
La Mar
We love anything fizzy in the summer, especially when it has that perfect blend of tart and sweet. Plus the Summer Fizz (vodka, peach liqueur, yuzu, honey syrup, sparkling sake) tastes even better while taking in the gorgeous water views from La Mar’s patio.

Flores

El Matador, $12
Tony’s Pizza Napoletana
Take summer by the horns with El Matador (Don Julio Blanco tequila, serrano-infused beet juice, ginger beer, fresh lime, and mint), which is refreshing, but with a perfect amount of kick. Plus, there’s beet juice, which means you’re basically juicing.

E&O Kitchen and Bar

Lanai Cocktail, $12
E&O Kitchen and Bar
What’s more summer than a tropical tiki-inspired drink? Not much. To celebrate its 20th anniversary, this Union Square restaurant and lounge created the Lanai Cocktail (rum, pineapple, brown sugar, and vanilla), which is totally heavenly and also only available until the end of July, so don’t put this one off.

Hard Rock Cafe San Francisco

The Shark Attack, $13.99
The Hard Rock Café
Here’s the truth. It’s summer. Which means you’re going to have friends visiting from out of town who want to go to Pier 39. And the best way to take the edge off of being surrounded by tourists is to embrace it. And also to drink a totally touristy, but very Instagrammable, drink. In this case, it’s The Shark Attack (Bacardi Limon, Blue Curacao, Chambord, sweet and sour mix, and Sierra Mist, topped with a shark gummy candy), and it is meant to be shared. Sip it on the outdoor deck overlooking Pier 39, and get tipsy while smiling smugly that you’re lucky enough to actually live here.

Allison Tong

Summer of Love Menu, $13 each
Bluestem Brasserie
This downtown hot spot is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love with an entirely new menu for summer, inspired by the most popular songs from 1967. Your mission? Try them all before all the leaves are brown…

California Nights: blueberry and hibiscus bitters, cynar, blueberry simple syrup, and Buffalo Trace
The Beet Goes On: beet and apple puree, lemon juice, and gin
Groovin: rhubarb and apricot shrub, grapefruit juice, and Casa Amigos Blanco
White Rabbit: celery and white wine shrub, lemon juice, rosé wine, and Hangar 1 Vodka
Carrie Anne: lemonade, Lillet Rouge, cherry-infused rum, and tonic
Daydream Believer: crème soda syrup, grapefruit juice, Hangar 1 Vodka, and bergamot
All You Need Is Love: muddled raspberries, ginger simple syrup, Hope sparkling wine, and ginger

Mezcalito

Fresita De San Felipe, $13
Mezcalito
You might not be able to make it to San Felipe this summer, but the Fresita De San Felipe (dry gin, strawberry jalapeno shrub, ginger, and lime) will certainly make you feel like you’re sitting on the beach without a care in the world. Even if you’re actually drinking it at an adorable Mexican spot on Polk Street.

Chambers Eat + Drink

Drunk in Love, $15
Chambers Eat + Drink
Summer is kind of all about being drunk and in love, which is why Drunk in Love (Absolut Vodka, Lillet Blanc French Aperitif, watermelon shrub, aged sherry, and sea salt, topped with sparkling rosé and served tall on the rocks) is pretty much the ideal cocktail. Add in the fact that it has watermelon and rosé (and sherry and Lillet and vodka) and you can drink it while sitting by the pool, and it just may become your go-to bevvy of the season. Also, sorry we just said “bevvy.” It felt right in the moment. That’s what happens when you’re drunk in love.

By

Daisy Barringer moved to San Francisco when she was six years old and though she considers herself a “local,” knows better than to ever call herself “a native.” She resides in the Upper Haight/Cole Valley, but spends a lot of time in Tahoe with her 150-pound Saint Bernard, Monkey.

More articles by Daisy Barringer

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