The Bardo is an impassioned ode to mid-century home entertaining, decorated with vintage furniture arranged in intimate living room-like lounges. With the hi fi in full swing, the bartenders swirl libations to the retro soundtrack of soul, jazz and R&B from behind a swanky wood bar. The menu is chock full of creative interpretations of 1960s cocktail culture, with drinks like the Papa Bear, with hibiscus washed tequila, Pimm’s, botanical infused gin, passion fruit and fresh lemon juice, and A Walk In the Orchard, made with double rye, cynar 70, apple cider, lime juice, white pepper thyme and maple syrup, are served in mismatched vintage glassware the owners have collected for years. Lounge fare comes in a range of dinner party hors devours like olives covered in cream cheese, pimentos and toast crumbs and larger plates like pork belly pot pie.
February 2019: The mid-century vibe is in fashion right now with two cocktail-slinging Oakland newcomers - Bardo Lounge and Supper Club at #1 and Bar Shiru at #15 - whose retro musical stylings are as delightful as their drinks. If you need a dose of darkly satisfying kitsch, head to our #8 pick, the Tenderloin’s Zombie Village, one of the best of the second-wave tiki bars hitting the city (like our #4 choice, Last Rites)
In recent years experimental mixologists and detail-oriented bartenders have led drinks in the best cocktail bars in San Francisco away from expected combinations and towards complex and surprising drinks layered with artisan spirits and flavorful tinctures. It’s not that martinis and negronis are off the menu, they’re just better, spiked with ingredients like bee pollen, liquid kelp, cedar and crab oil. Here are our picks for 22 bars and restaurants upping the cocktail game in San Francisco right now.
RECOMMENDED: Full guide to the best bars in San Francisco