That time has come when every website on the World Wide Web makes their end-of-year listicles, and for us these are limited to San Francisco and the Bay Area, and the things that keep us going day to day i.e. mostly booze and food. Today we bring you what we think are the best alcohol-slinging establishments to make their debut in and around SF in the last year (with one on Treasure Island). These represent what we think are the coolest and most delicious additions to the local bar array one that, may we humbly add, is already one of the finest collections of bars of any city in the world.
Opened in June by husband and wife team Matt and Piper Norris, Evil Eye on Mission Street has quickly won over both those living down the street and revelers trekking in from around the city. The vibe is that of a comfortable dive, but the drinks range from shot and a beer to involved cocktails (try the What's Up Doc? — the mix of mezcal, genepy, carrot, ginger, lime, orange, and chile tincture). With a pool table and pinball machines, you can just drink and chill if you so desire. However, Evil Eye offers up a small plates menu as well, meaning you can eschew the gaming for some snacking. The fried cauliflower (with cotija, lemon, and guajillo chile aoli) is a hit, and there's an entire toast section of the menu if you're into that kind of thing. "A lot of spaces have started to look the same," Matt told Hoodline in April. "We want it to be eclectic." And eclectic it is, which, in a city where every new bar seems overly choreographed, is more than a simple relief — it's a straight pleasure. — Jack Morse
2937 Mission Street, Between 25th and 26th Streets
To enter the handsomely wood-paneled interior of Horsefeather you first pass through an atrium patio where you may be tempted to remain. Go ahead! The semi-outdoor tables there, like the ones inside, are first-come, first-served. The inviting space and trendy location on a now primo strip of Divis may be what lures patrons through the charmingly rusted metal and glass door, but what keeps them lingering are expertly balanced cocktails from Bourbon & Branch alums Justin Lew and Ian Scalzo. Horsefeather's sizable kitchen, inherited from former occupant Ziryab, ensures that drinkers don't go hungry and that a casual cocktails date can transition into a full-on dinner date. Plates of ravioli, tacos, and more on the frequently changing menu are shareable, though less so the double cheeseburger, a juicy chuck, shortrib, and brisket blend that ends up tasting like a faithful In-N-Out recreation (at a not-so-fast-food price of $14). In lieu of a milkshake, consider the Night Train, a cocktail of mosswood espresso whiskey, bourbon, Averna, Fernet Branca Menta and cacao. Every detail about Horesfeather is likely to charm, from the Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired menu fonts and designs to casual weekend brunch menu items like short-rib pastrami hash, or a crab and goat cheese scramble. — Caleb Pershan
528 Divisidero Street between Hayes and Fell Streets
Horsie's Saloon is a bar in an endearing naif style: I mean this in a good way, but it feels sort of like a couple of kids playing at having a bar. With catch-as-catch-can hours, the "saloon" consists of just five or six high, sturdy stools cordoned off inside the small boutique food and liquor store Royal Cuckoo Market, which precedes the bar aspect and is like a miniature version its more established and similarly off-kilter sibling business, The Royal Cuckoo Organ Lounge. Like that more traditional bar, Horsie's Saloon is warm and dark-ish and always plays jazz on vinyl, but because it's also a liquor store, it just serves beer, wine, and low-proof cocktails at the bar on the premises. Those cocktails, for example, including a Bloody Mary made with two shots of the strong digestif Underberg. Down one of those, then buy some bread and cheese to take home, and your trip to the bar was just a productive, delightful errand.—Caleb Pershan
3368 19th Street between Capp and Mission Streets
Leo's Oyster Bar
The retro-tropical, Golden Girls-meets-Mad Men chic of Leo's Oyster Bar, which opened in the former Wexler's space earlier this year, has been perhaps the hottest opening in the Financial District in years thanks in large part to the design by Ken Fulk and his team which has garnered multiple awards, including one from Bon Appetit. Restaurateur Anna Weinberg, thus, has yet another hit on her hands after reopening Marlowe in 2015 and the successes of The Cavalier and Park Tavern, with the help of a raw bar and seafood-focused menu from chef Jennifer Puccio don't miss the lobster roll, or her house-made tater tot with brandade and tapenade. (Also, there's a twist on an Old Fashioned on the cocktail menu dubbed The Mad Man.) It's a perfect spot for a liquid lunch, after-work drinks or dinner, or a leisurely Saturday evening of oysters and champagne. Jay Barmann
568 Sacramento Street between Montgomery and Sansome
Photo courtesy of the Linden Room
The Linden Room
Hayes Valley has never been home to a great many full liquor licenses compared to bar-heavy neighborhoods like the Mission, Polk, and Marina, though it does have the draws of fine Tiki goodness at Smuggler's Cove and well crafted classics at Absinthe. So it's with some fanfare that the 'hood welcomed The Linden Room this year which, despite sharing a Facebook page with attached restaurant Nightbird and serving drinks to guests there, is its own separate business. The cozy bar has a sophisticated menu one half that skews toward classic combinations, and one that's more focused on whimsical seasonal creations that reflect and complement chef Kim Alter's food, like the Crimson Hayes (brandy, beet, and lemon verbena) and staff who are friendly and more than capable of improvising something based on your mood. There are just ten leather stools, however, and not a ton of standing space, so it may be tough to edge your way in during prime time. I'd recommend it, though, as a place to warm you up on any cold early evening, or as the perfect place to end a date with a nightcap. Jay Barmann
330 Gough Street, door on Linden Street
Louie's Gen-Gen Room
Never one to rest on his laurels, chef Ravi Kapur dreamed up a new bar within his successful one-year-old restaurant Liholiho Yacht Club this year with its own separate food menu and cocktail program with subtle yet totally fun drinks created by barman Yanni Kehagiaras, like the delicious Young Coconut, made with Avuá Cachaça, falernum, coconut water, lime and green Chartreuse. The reservation-only bar in the basement of the restaurant debuted with no advance warning in June and just 24 seats, and to make up for the lack of a proper kitchen with ventilation hood, Kapur created a cocktail- and wine-friendly menu of crudos, snacks, salads, and savory (and sweet) waffles, including an awesomely rich bone marrow butter waffle topped with smoked sturgeon, avocado Green Goddess dressing, and fennel. It's a cool, hidden away spot with a tropical vibe thanks to a palm tree mural in back that feels more secret than it is at this point, but it's still likely to impress any date who loves an interesting drink (and enjoys seafood). Jay Barmann
871 Sutter Street near Jones
Old Devil Moon
The devil's in the details at this sizable new bar on Mission Street at Cortland Avenue, and with solid po' boys, a serious draft list, and classic New Orleans cocktails on offer, it's already a favorite Bernal Heights gathering spot for the neighborhood's not-quite-yet-unhip crowd. 20 taps of beer can be served in taster sizes to get your mix-and-match beer flight going, and if the name didn't start the song playing in your head, don't worry: In the bathrooms you'll always hear a different version of the jazz classic "Old Devil Moon." A playlist of the song is on loop. —Caleb Pershan
3472 Mission Street at Cortland Avenue
Definitely the most unusual entry on this list is Onsen Bath & Restaurant, newly open in the Tenderloin, which is a full-service bathhouse and spa, in addition to being a full-service restaurant and sake bar. We're putting it in the bar category based on the fact that the well curated sake selection should be a major draw, as well as a fine conclusion to a couple hours in the baths though the food by chef George Meza (formerly at Oro) is surprisingly stellar as well. Go for a sake flight and learn a bit about each one from the well informed staff, or try one of the low-proof sochu cocktails, like the purple haze, made with preserved Concord grape, lemon, ginger, and shiso. Jay Barmann
466 Eddy Street near Leavenworth
Photo: Jay Barmann/SFist
Pacific Cocktail Haven
Talented, nomadic bar star Kevin Diedrich has hopefully found a long-term home at Pacific Cocktail Haven, a.k.a. PCH, a.k.a. the former Cantina. Much like he did during previous stints at the Burritt Room and Jasper's Corner Tap, Diedrich has created a broadly likable and diverse menu of drinks that are enhanced with quirky combinations and touches like a heated "branding" iron that puts the bar's logo on top of a big cube of ice in a finished Miso Old Fashioned, or the ginger beer-based Monk's Buck made with Cognac and yellow Chartreuse. It's a welcome revamp for a well-trafficked spot near Union Square, and a good celebration spot if only because of their large-format punches served in huge crystal dispenser tanks. Jay Barmann
580 Sutter Street near Mason
Photo: Blake Young/SFist
Occupying what was for a long time the bright and airy home of Cable Car Clothiers off of a historic Beaux Arts lobby at Sansome and Bush, The Treasury was a popular addition to the FiDi upon its debut early this year. The cocktail-making team of Carlos Yturria (Absinthe) with partners Phil West (Range, Third Rail) and Arnold Eric Wong (Bacar, EOS, E&O) created a gilded bar for a gilded age, with tall windows that let the light flood in on late afternoons after the markets close. Despite some high-end offerings like a $79 Tsar Nichoulai caviar service, the place doesn't take itself too seriously with other menu items like pigs in a blanket, and boozy slushy with vodka, sherry, green apple, ginger, and lemon. Jay Barmann
200 Bush Street at Sansome
Waystone's Market Street facade: Jos M/Yelp
Billing itself as a "beer and wine cafe," Waystone is less a place to get the newest trendy cocktail (in fact, no cocktails are served) as it is a place to get a solid salad or sandwich and a glass of wine or beer. Boasting a diverse yet clearly curated list of beers (four on tap, the rest bottled) and 40 wines by the glass on a list composed by owner Tom Patella (of Causwells and Popsons fame) you're unlikely to feel overwhelmed by intimidating choices — and the staff is, for the most part, happy to offer a recommendation. Their food, which is more lunch- than dinner-styled, comes by way of 21st Amendment vet Billy Riordan and is prepared with care. It's clear from a recent visit that the Mid-Market spot is still finding its footing, with service that can verge past casual, but there's definitely something there, and the place has a lot of heart. Next time you're headed to a show at the Warfield or Golden Gate Theater, check it out. — Eve Batey
992 Market Street between Golden Gate and Turk Streets
Replacing longtime lesbian dive bar the Lexington Club in a city that fiercely guards its queer and dive bars, Wildhawk was a stand-in for gentrification and target of disdain before it even opened. But now that you can go, you'll see it's just a cocktail bar, and in fact, a historically respectful and thoughtful and even a very fine one at that, although it does have more dudebros than it used to in its previous incarnation. Owned by the PlumpJack Group — yes, founded by Gavin Newsom — the bar is named for the 1800s San Francisco saloon dancer Lola Montez whose movements were said to be "like a wild hawk." Designer Jay Jeffers took his cues from that backstory and went ornate, showy, and Victorian, but the real delight are the drinks: The vermouth-heavy menu includes perfectly executed cocktail classics plus creative new spins like the Breakfast Negroni, made with Cocoa Puff-infused vermouth and served in a bowl with orange peel cutouts that look like cereal pieces. No spoon is necessary — just sip from the bowl like a kid finishing their sugary cereal-sweetened milk. —Caleb Pershan
3464 19th Street at Lexington Street
Woods Island Club
San Francisco doesn't really excel in the realm of beach bars, what with its beaches being mostly cold and foggy. However, one strip of San Francisco is a notorious exception to that: Yerba Buena Island's Clipper Cove. Protected from the wind, and with a healthy dose of sunshine, that tiny little beach provides a frequently warm spot to sunbathe and pretend you're somewhere south of the city. Woods Island Club, the latest addition from brewer Woods Beer Co., takes advantage of that fact with its new bar on Treasure Island facing the cove. With a huge patch of trucked-in sand (50 tons, according to the Chronicle), a giant palm tree, and shade structures, the outdoor bar feels more like Southern California than SF, and sometimes that's exactly what's needed. With multiple taps of Woods Beer located inside the nearby hangar, the man-made beach is essentially an outdoor taproom. The beer is wonderful, and the spot is dog- and kid-friendly (which is great if you have a toddler or pooch, not great if you're annoyed by kids). The hours are based on the weather, which is totally fine because no one wants to sit outside in a cold San Francisco rain. As it is, Woods Island Club is a destination spot without destination prices. And, for the win, they serve empanadas. — Jack Morse
422 Clipper Cove Way, Just Past Avenue D, Treasure Island
Bar Fluxus, barely open as of this writing in the Hotel Des Art (447 Bush Street), looks rad but there wasn't time to check it out.
Buffalo Theory, the upper Polk beer bar with food, already has some ardent fans.
Coin-Op, the arcade bar taking over the former Orson space on Fourth Street, looks pretty damn cool, but was not yet open as of press time (it's due to open next week).
Pagan Idol, which has gone full kitsch in the Tiki direction, and offers some more breathing room than Smuggler's Cove.