COCKTAIL HOUR Yes, the rest of the country is sipping piña coladas and pink lemonade margaritas, while we shiver and pour whiskey into our hot tea. No problem: this is a primo time to ditch the sickly sweet and explore some solid bellywarmers in the cocktail category.
IRISH COFFEE AT BUENA VISTA CAFE
Let’s start with this classic — Buena Vista claims that it was invented here, why not, and the Fisherman’s Wharf-adjacent cafe’s gotten a rep for being a tourist magnet. Don’t let that detour you, it’s all super-charming. Served piping hot with coffee, whiskey and topped with whipped cream, the Buena’s Irish Coffee ($8) is pretty perfect for sipping as you imagine knitting little sweaters for the seagulls darting over the frigid bay.
2765 Hyde, SF. www.thebuenavista.com
MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE AT TRADITION
Coffee not your thing? Pop over to Tradition in the Tenderloin and see if you can handle its version of Mexican Hot Chocolate ($10). Rich in vitamin agave (this drink contains both mezcal and tequila), a few sips of this will thaw you out in no time. It’s usually on radition’s winter menu, but asking for it at the bar is well worth a try: even if they can’t whip one up, the bartenders will steer you in a warm direction.
441 Jones, SF. www.tradbar.com
CHAMOMILE TODDY AT BRASSERIE S&P
The easy-to-make hot toddy cocktail is a staple during cold weather. But the lovely Brasserie S&P in the Mandarin Oriental kicks it up a notch on the serenity scale by replacing the traditional bourbon with gin — and adding a pour of chamomile tea ($12). All that’s missing is the purr of a cat and a good hardcover book.
222 Sansome, SF. www.mandarinoriental.com
MANHATTAN SHAKE AT THE CORNER STORE
There’s nothing like a milkshake on a warm day, but yeah, about that…. This thick, rich Manhattan Shake ($10) is a nice compromise with SF weather. A cold concoction with the kick of a well-made Manhattan, the Corner Store’s treat will booze you up to the point that you’ll forget you’re drinking it in the fog.
5 masonic, SF. www.thecornerstore-sf.com
WHATAMELON AT ELIXIR
When the clouds part and we are blessed with hot day, Elixir has the perfect summer, fruit-filled cocktail menu. I originally visited in search of another warm drink for this list, but was instantly swayed by the bartender’s suggestion: a Whatamelon ($11). A tequila drink with watermelon juice, elderflower liqueur, agave nectar, and mint, it was light, tasty, and refreshing. Perfect for summer, even if just the summer in your mind.
3200 16th St., SF. www.elixirsf.com