Three Bars in the Mission You Should Drink at Right Now
With “mixologists” gaining celebrity status nationwide, pouring a shot of whiskey and a smile doesn’t always translate to a steady customer following. Being a good bartender includes having some personal charm that goes beyond not scaring people away and keeping the bar top clean. Making good drinks is just as important these days and the Mission District in San Francisco, with its numerous haunts, has some of the best in the Bay Area.
West of Pecos (550 Valencia St.)
Starting off with tequila, which is always a great way to begin, the margaritas that Regina Schaverte and Brent Butler make at West of Pecos are hard to top. The classic “La Casa” is made with blanco tequila, fresh citrus, orange liqueur and smoked salt. Simple but using good ingredients and the right proportions, these are about as good as this popular drink gets. A slightly savory variation, the “Roadrunner,” which is made with mezcal, mandarin napoleon, thyme, lime and sal du guasano is a must try, even if you don’t particularly like mezcal. It goes extremely well with the restaurant’s addictive chunky guacamole. Website
Slow Club (2501 Mariposa St.)
Located on the outer edge of the Mission, the Slow Club, which has been around since the early 90s, has a low key bar making it a good place to go if you don’t want to deal with that much of a scene. Zoe Rem just started working here but her Green Point Manhattan, composed of rye, chartreuse, Punt e Mes, an Italian vermouth, and bitters is as good a twist on this old standard as you will find and is sure to create repeat customers. She can also be found at Third Rail in the Dogpatch on Thursday nights. Website
Pop's Bar (2800 24th St.)
Jay Beaman at Pops on 24th Street says that it is not a cocktail bar but boy, can this dude make a mean drink! Before anything else, a bartender should be able to get the standard drinks right and this is not as easy as it seems. A Manhattan is always a good litmus test and the one that he makes using Carpano Antica vermouth is spot on. Making a Sazerac is even harder and when it’s not good, it can be downright awful, but his is superb. They still have peanuts and rotating DJs so it’s worth checking out, no matter who is behind the bar. Website
As one of the hotbeds of nightlife in San Francisco, the Mission can be overwhelming if you don’t know the area. Lots of places have tasty drinks but these cocktails and the talented people who made them definitely stand out.