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10 Bars Where You Need to Drink in 2016

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drinks from SFCVB photo PicmonkeyPhoto: Paul Saad

By Marcia “Tablehopper” Gagliardi

January 10, 2016 - San Francisco’s bar scene is just as lively as its restaurant scene, with new watering holes opening all the time (hey, we’re a thirsty city). Here are a few recently opened places—with the rest opening soon—that you’ll want to pull up a barstool at. And fans of wine, we have a couple spots for you, too.

Whitechapel The Platform2 PicmonkeyThe Platform at Whitechapel


Whitechapel (600 Polk St.)

One of our city’s most beautiful bars to open in quite some time, this spacious gin palace from Martin Cate, Alex Smith and John Park feels like it’s in an abandoned London Underground train station. The cavernous space is full of historical details, more than 350 gins, a long list of cocktails, and there’s a kitchen open until midnight nightly (don’t miss the “fish and a chip”).


The Lark (29 Third St.)

After beloved and low-key downtown watering hole Dave’s closes after New Year’s Eve, it will reopen within a month as The Lark. The new owners, the Future Bars group (Bourbon & Branch) will reportedly be keeping a lot the same, and still offer approachable beers, affordable drinks (not the craft cocktails they’re known for), and the chili dogs will stay put too.


Unnamed Future Bars Tiki Project

Rumors continue to swirl about a new project coming Q1 next to Rickhouse (246 Kearny St.) in the Financial District from the Future Bars team. While nothing is confirmed just yet, all we know is that it’s going to be a tiki theme. It may be a room connected to Rickhouse, or it might be a separate bar entirely.


The Treasury (115 Sansome St.)

Three well-known San Francisco restaurant industry chaps—Arnold Eric Wong, Carlos Yturria and Phil West—are partnering on a new Financial District bar. Expect craft cocktails served quickly, a historic space and style with a casual vibe, and an extensive menu of bar snacks.


Big (98 Turk St.)

Although the tiny bar with the Big name closed, now it’s coming back, and is going to have bigger digs that will live up to its name (although the original bartenders have moved on to their own project, Benjamin Cooper). The former Tenderloin dive bar 21 Club is currently being gutted, and new owners Peter Glickshtern, Jordan Langer, Ryan Melchiano, and Ryan Hisamune plan to reopen the menu-free joint (your bartender will custom make your drink, just for you) in the summer.


Mr. Tipple's Recording Studio (39 Fell St.)

This upcoming Hayes Valley cocktail bar from the owner of Lower Haight's Maven will have a strong musical component, with live music every night—plan on some jazz, with funk, swing, blues, and more. It’ll be a perfect spot to keep the vibe going after a show at nearby SFJAZZ. Plan on some bar bites, too.


Pete’s (570 Green St.)

Pete Mrabe of Chubby Noodle fame has taken over the former Amante in North Beach, and is updating the space and cocktail menu. Duggan McDonnell is consulting on the list (nothing too fancy), and will offer cocktails on tap, too. There’s a full kitchen, so there will be an all-day menu with smoked wings, turkey potpie, a flatbread and more. A month after it opens in mid-January, brunch will kick in, too.


Horsefeather (528 Divisadero St.)

Two talented bartenders, Justin Lew and Ian Scalzo, opened a temporary bar called Tsk/Tsk in this Divisadero corridor location, which will morph into Horsefeather in the New Year. It will continue to be a neighborhood bar with affordable but well-executed cocktails (they have quite the skill set), and late-night dining is also being discussed. Saturday brunch is currently part of the scene as well.


High Treason (443 Clement St.)

Wine lovers will be heading to the Inner Richmond in December 2015 to experience this wine bar and retail shop from sommeliers Michael Ireland (The French Laundry, The Restaurant at Meadowood) and John Vuong (Ame, Gary Danko). It’s a casual spot with a patio and 30 wines on the list, and will also feature small plates from chef Daniel Brooks.


Wine Down (685 Folsom St.)

Co-owners Sarah Garand and Jaime Hiraishi wanted to create the after-work space they always sought: a comfortable place to enjoy quality wine that wasn’t too expensive. They really care about value (the average glass of wine will be $10) and having a laid-back and friendly vibe. Sustainability is also important to them. Wines will be local (and you can buy retail as well), plus craft beer and some bites will be offered, too. Look for an early 2016 opening.


Editor’s Note:   Marcia Gagliardi writes a popular insider weekly e-column, tablehopper, about the SF dining and drinking scene (

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