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July 21, 2011 10:56 AM   Subscribe

Where can I find the best, most interesting, artisanal cocktails in the Mission or Noe Valley neighborhoods of San Francisco?

I love bars like Little Branch and Death and Co. in New York. What would be similar places to go in San Francisco, in the Mission or Noe Valley? My preference would be for places with a more intimate vibe, but the main requirement is really, really, really carefully prepared and interesting cocktails.
posted by psycheslamp to Food & Drink (23 answers total) 16 users marked this as a favorite
It's slightly outside the Mission but close enough for tipsy wandering: Blackbird. It's in the Castro, but attracts a lot of straight hipsters as well as gay folks. It can get super crowded on Fri/Sat evenings but can feel pretty intimate other times.
posted by wuzandfuzz at 11:05 AM on July 21, 2011 [1 favorite]

You're not going to find anything resembling an artisanal cocktail in Noe Valley. In the Mission, try Beretta on Valencia at 23rd.
posted by judith at 11:09 AM on July 21, 2011

If you're willing to go a mile and a half or so to Hayes Valley, the Orbit Room and Absinthe are very much worth trying.
posted by jet_silver at 11:18 AM on July 21, 2011

The Orbit Room, while not in the Mission, is close and has some pretty great cocktails.
posted by dolface at 11:20 AM on July 21, 2011

shakes tiny fist at jet_silver
posted by dolface at 11:21 AM on July 21, 2011

Dalva, on 16th street, has a backroom bar (Hideout, I believe) that makes some interesting cocktails.
posted by Phredward at 11:33 AM on July 21, 2011

Forgot to mention the English? Kiwi? bartender at Another Monkey, which *is* in the Mission, is both exacting and inventive. I haven't been going long enough to know the man's name, sorry.
posted by jet_silver at 11:33 AM on July 21, 2011

My brother put together the cocktail list at Nihon, and I can personally attest to his cocktail-crafting cred. He only works there a couple of nights a week, so I can't guarantee you'll get his expert crafting, and the list has been pared down a good deal since the SFWeekly article ran, but I have it on good word that you'll get a fine drink from any of the bartenders there.
posted by dilettanti at 11:38 AM on July 21, 2011

I vote Orbit Room.
posted by otherwordlyglow at 11:51 AM on July 21, 2011

Seconding Blackbird and Nihon, my two favorite spots for fancy drinks in that area of SF. Nihon especially for the happy hour and amazing whiskey cocktails.
posted by ruhroh at 12:00 PM on July 21, 2011

I had an extremely good, extremely interesting, cocktail at Beretta (which also markets itself as an Italian restaurant-- go figure). It doesn't have an intimate atmosphere, but we witnessed the bartender taste one of our drinks as he was about to serve it, try to tweak it a little, and ultimately throw it out and start over, which I take as a positive indicator of carefulness.

But I'm not saying it's up to the standards of Little Branch.
posted by willbaude at 12:02 PM on July 21, 2011

Try the Royal Cuckoo at Valencia & Mission. I haven't been but have heard they might be a bit up this alley. Also Churchill in the old Transfer spot at 14th/Church/Market.
posted by rhizome at 12:02 PM on July 21, 2011

How dedicated are you to staying in the Mission? (I agree with others that there's nothing of this type to be had in Noe Valley.) Among places that are easy to reach from Bart, there's Bourbon and Branch, a "speakeasy" that is sort of too-cute-by-half but does indeed make good cocktails, and then there is the Rickhouse in the financial district. Rickhouse is definitely a bit more crowded.

Or, you could take the J train or 24 bus up to the haight and check out Alembic. This is probably most on-target for what you're looking for (other than location) - small, pretty intimate, great great cocktails.
posted by rkent at 12:18 PM on July 21, 2011

You'll have to leave Noe Valley and the Mission to find anything. Alembic in the Haight for example. Most of the recommendations here are just...bars. Beretta is the only one I'd second.
posted by vacapinta at 12:19 PM on July 21, 2011

It may be a little out of the way for you/not exactly what you're looking for, but Smuggler's Cove in Hayes Valley is pretty small/intimate, and they make pretty amazing tiki-style cocktails there (like, AMAZING tiki-style cocktails). Of course, it's busy on Fri/Sat/Sun, and there are more bowling shirts in there than flannels or 'ironic mustaches', but there you go.
posted by Pecinpah at 12:22 PM on July 21, 2011

In the Mission, Beretta and Dalva/Hideout. Outside the Mission, 15 Romolo and Clock Bar are pretty great too. Beretta gets packed, so call ahead and put your name on the list.
posted by dame at 12:23 PM on July 21, 2011

Seconding (thirding?) Hideout in the back of Dalva. Astonishingly good drinks. Small secretive space. Awesome.
posted by garethspor at 12:31 PM on July 21, 2011

Elixir, at 16th and Guerrero.
posted by gyusan at 12:40 PM on July 21, 2011

Mission or Noe Valley are definitely preferred, but I'll leave if necessary to get the right experience.

I'm pretty certain I'll end up trying every place mentioned so far, but I'm particularly looking for someplace very special for my boyfriend's birthday. Hideout in the back of Dalva looks closest to the mark so far from their website. Bourbon and Branch evidently doesn't have reservations for tomorrow, and I'm grumpy about places that put a time limit on how long you can keep your table anyways.
posted by psycheslamp at 1:10 PM on July 21, 2011

Yes to Beretta. Bar Agricole, which isn't in the Mission, but closer than some of these options. Also Range and the new bar at Dosa on Valencia.

SFist cocktail list.
posted by gingerbeer at 1:17 PM on July 21, 2011

You know what I forgot that is excellent? Range. They are on Valencia and they take reservations.
posted by dame at 5:20 PM on July 21, 2011

N'thng Orbit Room. Alembic, too, but second to Orbit Room. (If you're looking for whiskey or whisky, however, Alembic is pretty awesome.)

I'm very fond of Elixir, having had two sets of friends live on their block for years and years, but I've never seen high-level cocktail making there. Solid and serviceable, yes. Artisanal, no.
posted by smirkette at 5:22 PM on July 21, 2011

Nthing Beretta's cocktails as great but vibe as not what you're looking for. FWIW, the food is really amazing there as well, you might be a little better off going for dinner (and dessert, ohmygod the dessert. Long waits are typical though - if they take reservations you should make one) than attempting to crowd in at their little bar.
posted by naoko at 9:24 AM on July 24, 2011

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