The bar at Dirty Habit (©Eric Wolfinger)
With its raucous Barbary Coast roots and wine country neighbors, it’s no surprise that San Francisco boasts a booming craft cocktail movement and some of the country’s most impressive wine lists. We talked to seven of the city’s top sommeliers and mixologists to find out what they’re drinking now.
Q: What’s in your glass?
Internationally renowned on the cocktail scene, Thad Vogler has been working in bars in San Francisco and around the world for 20 years. He owns the 2012 James Beard Award–nominated Bar Agricole and Trou Normand.
A: What I’m really excited about now is brandy and brandy cocktails, which are super old school. It’s hard to get good brandy at a good price, but I went on a buying trip this year to France and bought four different barrels. We’re bringing brandy back.
Named one of Food & Wine magazine's Best New Mixologists of 2014, Laman is one of the original bartenders at Trick Dog, one of San Francisco’s buzziest bars thanks to its expertly crafted cocktails.
A: My current drink of choice is sherry, sherry, sherry. Its unique, spirit-like complexity means it tastes great with food and in cocktails as well as on its own. My personal favorites right now are Equipo Navazos, Manzanilla Pasada and Alvear Amontillado. And its natural low alcohol means you can drink it all day and still stand up in the evening!
Master sommelier Yoon Ha, named one of Food & Wine’s Sommeliers of the Year for 2013, is the dining room and beverage director of the two-Michelin-starred restaurant Benu in San Francisco.
A: I've been drinking a lot of gruner veltliner from Austria. Think of sauvignon blanc, but without the overt grassy and herbal tones. I prefer them crisp and clean for their versatility, especially with vegetables. You can't go wrong with producers like Prager, Knoll and Huber.
A: At my house on average it is Champagne. We love bubbles all the time—maybe it’s our way to simply celebrate life! I have always loved Jacquesson Cuvee 736. It’s racy and rich at the same time. You can find it at K&L Wine Merchants in SoMa.
A: Espolon Blanco tequila neat and an ice-cold Anchor Steam lager. If I'm out for cocktails, you can usually find me at Rye sipping on a classic negroni.
The award-winning author and contributing wine editor at Bon Appetit magazine is the owner and wine director at St. Vincent in San Francisco.
A: A red blend made by Kevin Kelley of the Salinia Wine Co. in Santa Rosa from a kooky vineyard up in Mendocino called SunHawk Farms, which is planted to more than a dozen grape varieties, including the Rhone staples grenache, syrah and mourvedre. This is a field blend—all the grapes are picked and fermented together—incorporating both red and white grapes. Tangy, aromatic, delicious!
Hailing from Adelaide, Australia, not far from the renowned Barossa Valley and Mclaren Vale wine regions, Kosta served as the sommelier at Brasserie S&P in the Forbes five-star Mandarin Oriental San Francisco hotel before her recent transition to Dutton-Goldfield Winery in Sebastopol.
A: Sipsmith gin with the Bar at Brasserie S&P's housemade orange and thyme tonic. This bold, complex and aromatic London dry gin is beautifully balanced with the tastes of orange and thyme that we created especially with this gin in mind. The traditional mix of botanicals used in making Sipsmith, matched with our new tonic, makes sipping a delightful experience.