It's officially hot cocktail and mulled wine season, and we have a quick guide to eight of the best examples that SF bars and restaurants have to offer.
You can always find a classic Irish Coffee down at The Buena Vista Cafe, but across the city this holiday season — and in the dead of January — you'll find plenty of other, very delicious warm and wintry beverages to help take the edge off your seasonal stress.
Eight of our favorites, below.
Hot Buttered Cider at The Beehive
The Beehive is an all-around cozy spot for wintertime drinks, and this winter, if you haven't already, you ought to try their Hot Buttered Cider, now on the seasonal menu for the fourth consecutive year. It's a terrific twist on a Hot Buttered Rum, and combination of brandy, house apple cider, and apple butter.
842 Valencia Street
Wassail at Alembic
I'm not sure that there is another bar in town this season making wassail, so if you want to try a version, head to the upper Haight for Alembic's mix of red wine, cherry brandy, rhubarbaro, bay laurel, orange, honey, and winter spices.
1725 Haight Street
Aged Eggnog at Elixir
One of the Mission's finest cocktail spots, and the second-oldest bar in the city, Elixir, always offers up some delicious holiday cocktail treats. (The holiday menu goes live Friday, December 1.) They make house fresh eggnog every year that you can have with the spirit of your choice mixed in, but the special thing here is the aged eggnog — mixed a year in advance with Ferrand Ambre Cognac and Plantation Original dark rum, and aged in glass. It's served on ice, and it might sound crazy or gross, but it's bomb.
3200 16th Street at Guerrero
Over the River and Through the Woods at The Vault Garden
The Vault Garden is one of a number of SF bars ringing in the holidays with a special, highly Instagrammable themed pop-up, called Winter Wonderland. This year's edition features two hot cocktails, either of which can be served booze-free or boozy. One is the Over the River and Through the Woods — a mix of hot spiced cider, ginger, pear, rosemary, and lemon, which is perfect with a shot of bourbon, rum, or brandy. And you can have it served in a kitschy Santa mug.
555 California Street
Hot Brown Buttered Coffee at The Snug
A delicious and unique mashup of the Irish Coffee and Hot Buttered Rum, The Snug's Hot Brown Buttered Coffee features bourbon, house chestnut liqueur, and salted amaro cream.
2301 Fillmore Street
Hot Toddy at Casements
In addition to a terrific Irish Coffee made with Andytown Roasters coffee, you can find a proper, flavorful hot toddy at Casements in the Mission, featuring Lost Irish whiskey, allspice, cinnamon, clove, star anise, nutmeg, honey, and lemon. Enjoy it in the cozy bar or by a heatlamp on the huge back patio.
2351 Mission Street
Jingle Balls Nog at Miracle @ PCH
The uber-popular, no-reservations, holiday cocktail pop-up at Pacific Cocktail Haven is in its seventh year. And back on the menu you'll find the Jingle Balls Nog, which features Cognac, cream sherry, almond milk, cream, egg, vanilla, and nutmeg. If you're in the mood for something warm, though, they've got mulled wine and a great Hot Buttered Rum as well. You should note, though: Miracle, the pop-up, comes with a $10 cover charge.
550 Sutter Street
Chartreuse Cappuccino at The Morris and Maison Nico
As Chartreuse lovers surely know by now, the herb-y delicious green stuff has been extra-hard to find this year because of rising global demand and the stubbornness of the Carthusian monks who make it, who don't want to increase production. But Paul Einbund, all around beverage guru and owner of The Morris and Maison Nico, has his own deep supply. And on both menus is a Chartreuse cappuccino, a delicious wintry beverage that was recently included in the book But First, Coffee... — and you can make your own if you can find any Chartreuse with this recipe.
2501 Mariposa Street and 710 Montgomery Street