San Francisco CA Golf Weekend

Golf Magazine, 6/12, 10/08

Golf Digest , 6/12, 7/11, 10/09

Drinking Made Easy , 2011

Surrounding Lake Merced, clockwise from bottom: San Fran GC, Olympic, TPC Harding Park

Travelin' Joe's guide to golf in San Francisco

By Joe Passov, Golf Magazine , 6/7/12

This much is not open for debate—San Francisco, host to the 2012 U.S. Open, is the most beautiful, diverse, eccentric and engaging city in the U.S. But here's the question: What kind of golfing town is it? Here's Travelin' Joe's guide to golf in the Bay Area.

Worth Groveling: Olympic
I had to pass inspection by the general manager of Olympic Club—at the club's downtown location and in advance of the day I hoped to play. Permission granted, I holed a 25-footer on the 2nd hole, chipped in for par at 10 and jarred a 110-yard nine-iron for birdie on the par-5 16th—and still shot 92. Olympic then, as now, was the picture of a championship test (although a little redundant) and undeniably a bucket-list attraction.

Goofy Good: Bodega Harbour
What's scarier than Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds , shot at Bodega Bay? The first five holes of the wee town's golf course. Bodega Harbour opens with four uphill holes squeezed between houses, then a bizarre z-shaped par-5 where you have to lay up off the tee and then have a blind second that skirts a cattle ranch. When you get to the 16th, you leave the cart behind and hoof it through a two-hole protected environmental area. Despite—or because of—all this, I love the unpretentiousness, slick greens and ocean views.

One and Done: Harding Park
In 1998 this muni was such a wreck that it was used as a parking lot for the U.S. Open. Seven years later—after a contentious, way-over-budget renovation spearheaded by Sandy Tatum (page 76)—Harding was Tour-worthy and hosting a thrilling American Express Championship, at which Tiger Woods beat John Daly in overtime. I love the feel-good story and awesome cypress trees but am not a huge Harding fan. All of the holes (except 18) look and play alike to me.

Best View: Mira Vista
People usually say the 17th at Lincoln Park , where you feel as if you can reach out and touch the Golden Gate Bridge. And that's not a bad choice. But another option is the 18th green at Mira Vista. You're at a soaring elevation in the East Bay, looking out at a broad sweep of the Bay that takes in San Francisco, the Golden Gate, Mount Tamalpais and more. Stunning.

Coolest Head Pro: Dede Braun-Moriarty
Dede is the first female head pro in San Francisco and works at the Presidio . (Her husband, Mike, is a former San Francisco fireman and city champ.) She knows her stuff.

One-Hole Wonder: Half Moon Bay (Old)
This 36-hole beauty sits atop bluffs overlooking the Pacific. Half Moon's Ocean course is a personal fave, but sister course the Old not so much. Tom Doak once called the Old's first 17 holes "mostly Hamburger Helper," but the 18th is a jaw-dropper—a 413-yard par-4 that slopes downhill toward a wetland that bisects the fairway and ends at a green cocooned by the stunning Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay . Lining the entire right side of the hole is the gigantic water hazard known as the Pacific.

Restored Glory: Cal Club
For most of its 80 years the California Golf Club of San Francisco played third fiddle to Olympic and San Francisco. No more. Following a Kyle Phillips redo that was part restoration and part redesign, the A. Vernon Macan--Alister MacKenzie course is an equal.

Unexpected Gem: Claremont
It's a bit shocking, really, to stroll the mean streets of Oakland and stumble upon Claremont Country Club. (O.K., the neighborhood isn't all that bad nowadays, but nobody expects great golf in this kind of urban setting.)

Most Diverse: Mira Vista
Not surprising, perhaps, given its Robert Hunter roots. Chinese. Filipinos. Japanese. Italians. African-Americans. Mexicans. Definitely has a working-class vibe. Seriously, it's like a blue-collar Benetton ad.

Heresy! 16th at Pasatiempo
Pasatiempo architect Alister MacKenzie called the 387-yard par-4 "the finest two-shot hole I know." And some of the biggest names on GOLF MAGAZINE's Top 100 Course Ranking Panel agree. Not me. I don't think 16 is even the best par-4 on the back nine. The 16th asks for a blind layup off the tee to a left-tilting fairway that edges a barranca with OB. The approach is from a downhill, sidehill lie to an elevated, three-tiered green with too much slope for today's speeds. Overall, I'm a huge fan of MacKenzie's finest public-friendly course, but the 10th, with its restored (by Doak) gully bunker, and the 11th, with a barranca as a diagonal risk-reward hazard, are superior.

My Sleeper: Gleneagles
Lee Trevino supposedly called Gleneagles the best nine-holer he has ever played. That may be urban legend, but Gleneagles is a really cool place where outsiders almost never go. It's in a sketchy part of town, but it's where the hackers and old-school sharks like to hang. (Oh, and the greens were rebuilt last year, with volunteer help from the super at the Cal Club.)

Away Game
Gold Rush!
Prospecting for the best public golf in San Francisco

Lincoln Park and the Golden Gate Bridge

By Matt Ginella
Photos by Stephen Szurlej
Golf Digest , June 2012

The sense of discovery. It's what I appreciate most about life as a travel editor. So imagine my surprise when I recently excavated impressive and affordable golf in my back yard. Born and raised in the Bay Area, I grew up reading about San Francisco's legends of the game: Ken Venturi, Sandy Tatum, Harvie Ward and Johnny Miller, to name a few. But I honed my mediocrity an hour north, on the links of Sonoma County, not Harding, Presidio, Lincoln or Sharp -- "city" courses located within 30 minutes of each other. After 16 years in New York, I came back to San Francisco in March and discovered those four. "They all serve different purposes," says Glen Yang, a 10-handicapper with a scratch short game who has been playing in the city for seven years. "It depends on the kind of day you want to have, and it depends on how much you're willing to spend."

If Yang wants a serious round with avid golfers, he goes to Harding or Presidio. If he wants a more casual round with his wife, who doesn't like to spend a lot of money on golf and likes to play fast, he goes to Lincoln or Sharp.

Personally, I left my heart at Harding Park . If you have time for only one round, play here. It has a bigger maintenance budget than the other two city-owned courses (Lincoln and Sharp), so it tends to be in the best shape. Carts are limited to paths, but the terrain is fairly flat, and there's little distance between greens and tees, so I suggest you walk. It's what most of the locals do. They also tune out the sounds from the nearby gun club, the high school marching band and the barking coxswains from the crew teams rowing on neighboring Lake Merced. "You definitely get used to playing with noise," says Ian Levine, who has been playing Harding for three years. Levine and other locals have learned to share the course with the track teams running through, or the jamboree of juniors prancing to The First Tee driving range, which is near the Fleming 9, a par-30 course ($26 during the week, $31 on weekends). At the end of the day, which is a nice time to play, Harding might sound and seem chaotic, but it's actually poetry in the form of pure public golf. It's also where Tiger Woods beat John Daly in a playoff at the 2005 WGC-American Express Championship, where the U.S. beat the Internationals in the '09 Presidents Cup, and where the Champions Tour's Charles Schwab Cup has been played the past two years. Not unlike the business model of golf in Europe, green fees favor the loyal locals ($47 during the week, $61 on weekends) and ding out-of-towners ($150 during the week, $170 on weekends), but by the time you get to the last six holes, you won't be thinking about the cost, you'll be wishing you brought a camera.

Harding Park

If Harding is the best of the bunch, then Presidio is next in line. With all of the elevation changes and various views of the city, it's picturesque. What it's not? Easy. From the back tees it says 6,414 yards. Unless you're a legitimate single-digit handicapper, move up to the white tees. And unless you're in great shape, take a cart ($125 during the week, $145 on weekends). As the starter will tell you, 13 of the 18 holes have elevated greens, and the course, especially in the heavy Bay Area air, plays 500 yards longer than listed.

After Presidio, and especially after Harding, there's a big drop-off in maintenance budgets, but Lincoln Park and Sharp Park are just as rich in history.

Lincoln would be my choice if I had to pick between the two. The price is the same for both (nonresident fee is $37 during the week, $41 on weekends), but Lincoln offers the 17th hole. It's a 240-yard par 3 with an elevated tee and a prevailing wind at your back. The ensuing shot becomes an afterthought as you cross the road and navigate the steep cartpath from the 16th green. Assuming you have a clear day, behold what is one of the best views of arguably the greatest bridge on earth, the Golden Gate. While locals and tourists might be picnicking along the edges of the fairway, you might be inclined to hit a few old balls into the Pacific Ocean. Just don't top one: There's a footpath below the tee box, which is often occupied by the innocent. If you're hungry, stop at the snack shack that time forgot. If you're pressed for time, Lincoln offers a back-nine rate ($12 during the week, $17 on weekends).

Which brings us to Sharp Park . Entangled in a legal battle with environmentalists over red-legged frogs and garter snakes, the course has its next trial date in July. Sharp Park, which recently celebrated its 80th anniversary, was designed by the same icon of architecture who's responsible for Augusta National, Cypress Point and Royal Melbourne. Granted, much of Alister Mackenzie's design has been lost to land erosion and a lack of proper attention, but if you're after a unique experience with authentic avid golfers, and you're willing to look the other way when it comes to the condition of the greens, Sharp could benefit from your business. "The bar here is like 'Cheers,' " says Allan Eisenberg, who plays the course twice a week. And on the subject of the environmental controversy, he shares a common sentiment: "I've yet to see a frog, and the only snake I've ever seen was in a hawk's mouth, and that was 20 years ago."

San Francisco is synonymous with rolling fog, crooked streets, Alcatraz, cable cars, Coit Tower and good food. I enjoyed my meal at the trendy Twenty Five Lusk , which is big on scenery and atmosphere but small on portions. I doubled up on the gnocchi and wanted to triple up on the cauliflower crème brûlée. (Trust me, and try it.)

If you like big portions, treat yourself to Original Joe's , which recently reopened in January in the heart of North Beach. (It was so good, I went twice.) It's not uncommon for ownership to greet you at the door. The walls are a museum of the city's history, the wine list is extensive, the ceilings are high and the food is outstanding.

I also stuffed myself at The Stinking Rose and Capp's Corner , two North Beach institutions that are a little less expensive and a lot more casual.

After walking Harding and hiking Presidio, one thing I wasn't concerned about was caloric intake. Excavating, it turns out, takes a lot of energy.

My Town:  Kate Cockrill's San Francisco

Golf Digest, 7/11

This Golf Channel commentator has lots to say about the city by the bay

The Clift Hotel near Union Square Park is a great option. It has been around for more than 100 years but was recently refurbished. Although it still has a lot of its original character --especially its old-fashioned bar called the Redwood Room that really takes you back in time --it is now a trendy, fun place as well. There's a great boutique hotel down by the Embarcadero called Hotel Vitale . I've only been there for dinner, but a lot of people have told me they really like it. It's a good spot in a neat area that has plenty of great restaurants, shops and other attractions .

Boulevard Restaurant , one of my favorites, is located in the historic Audiffred building on the waterfront. It's a great place for a really nice dinner or a special occasion. The food has a bit of a French flair, and the chef, Nancy Oakes, is very well known .

I frequently go to a place near my home in the Haight-Ashbury area called Park Chow . They have a variety of things on their menu including great pasta and salads. It's nothing too fancy, but everything is well prepared, and they have great desserts .

There's a neat bar called Kezar Pub right across the street from Kezar Stadium where the 49ers used to play. It is known for showing soccer games at all hours .

Alcatraz is a must-see. The ferryboat to "the Rock" is really neat, and the audio tour of the prison is amazing .

Going to Fisherman's Wharf and Ghirardelli Square is something fun to do, especially if you like seafood. There are a lot of seals and sea lions down by the wharf; it's a good spot to take the family .

One of my favorite things to do is the mile-and-a-half walk at Crissy Field . It takes you out under the Golden Gate Bridge to Fort Point, the first fort built to protect the Bay Area. It's stunning to look up and see the Golden Gate right above you .

Golf Digest's Pocket Guide To San Francisco

Golf Digest , 10/09

Where To Play:

Harding Park GC, San Fran

4 1/2 stars, , "The site of the President's Cup was renovated before Tiger beat Daly in the '05 WGC."  M-R $135, F-Sun $155, 14:00 twilight $105/$125

Presidio GC, San Fran

4 stars, , "With elevated greens and coastal winds, take an extra club for approach shots." M-R $125, F-Sun $145, 15:00 twilight $95/$105

Half Moon Bay, Old & Ocean, Near San Fran Airport

Old 4 1/2 stars, Ocean 4 stars, , "The Old Course isn't as scenic, but it's the local's choice." M-R $160, F-Sun $185, 13:30 twilight $80/$95.  [ Fat Guy Note :  You'll recognize Half Moon Bay as the setting for American Wedding , the third installment in the American Pie series.  Pull out your best two-faced Stifler lines, or pull a Finch and try to get with Stifler's mom.]

Cordevalle GC, about an hour SW of San Fran

Unrated, , "The rough is rough, and the 17th hole (449 yards) can ruin a good round." $325, Resort guests only

The Course at Wente Vineyards, about 45 minutes West of San Fran

4 stars, , "California's first Greg Norman course, and Annika Sorenstam's wine is made here." M-R $85, F-Sun $110, 14:00 twilight $55/$65

Hiddenbrooke GC, about an hour NW of San Fran

4 1/2 stars, , "Arnold Palmer design with rolling hills.  Definitely take a cart." M-R $65, F $75, Sat-Sun $95, Noon twilight $55/$65/$85

Silverado CC & Resort (North & South), about an hour North of San Fran

North 4 stars, South 4 1/2 stars, , "South Course is more challenging and preferred by locals." $160, 14:30 twilight $85

Sonoma GC, about an hour North of San Fran

4 stars, , "Host of the Schwab Cup since 2003.  A great course to walk." Resort guests only, $215 Apr-Oct, $185 Nov-Mar

Indian Valley GC, about 45 minutes North of San Fran

4 stars, , "New greens and tees, and not a McMansion in sight." M-R $36, F $44, Sat-Sun $61, Noon twilight $26/$32/$44


Stonetree GC, about 45 minutes North of San Fran

4 stars, , "Drains great during winter months.  Fairways slope right." M-R $85, F $95, Sat-Sun $120, 14:00 twilight $65/$75/$85

The top-three private courses in the San Francisco area, according to Golf Digest's Best in State ranking:


on Fillmore Street is a local favorite: eight ounces on a baguette ( , 415-921-3944).

in Russian Hill has 25 TVs, two big screens and Golden Tee (415-775-4287).

is within five miles of San Francisco International Airport. The range recently opened a 20,000-square-foot grass hitting area.( , 650-952-1901).

in South San Francisco is five minutes from the airport. It's open seven days a week and features clubfitting (putter through driver), launch monitors and four hitting bays ( , 650-583-4653).

is a must for out-of-towners looking for entertainment and seafood. You can't go wrong with Alioto's ( , 415-673-0183) or SCOMA'S ( , 415-771-4383).

on Van Ness claims it's a "San Francisco landmark," but here's the only review you need:This is where 49ers linemen eat ( , 415-885-4605).

is a trendy eatery in the financial district with an old-school feel and an extensive wine list ( , 415-955-0663).

is the winery to visit if you have time for only one. Located in Napa County, it hosts culinary shows, concerts and art exhibits ( , 888-766-6328). Locals will tell you the new hip winery is CASTELLO DI AMOROSA ( , 707-967-6272). STERLING VINEYARDS is another top choice. You'll ride an aerial tram to the winery, 300 feet above the town of Calistoga ( , 800-726-6136).

is an interesting and educational trip to the prison home of Al Capone. Be sure to take the audio tour. Boats leave from Pier 33, south of Fisherman's Wharf. Tickets are $26 for adults and $16 for children 5-11 ( , 415-981-7625).

on Fillmore Street has sushi and international jazz musicians ( , 415-655-5600).

is the museum of science, art and human perception, offering more than 100 hands-on exhibits. Open T-Su, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $14 for adults, $11 for kids 13-17 and $9 for children 4-12 ( , 415-561-0360).

Architect ROBERT TRENT JONES JR ., 70, has lived in the Bay Area since his graduate-school days at Stanford University. He loves it for the weather, the interesting culture and all the great golf courses. He's the perfect source for some local knowledge:

San Francisco is one of the most physically beautiful cities in the world. You need to see Lombard Street, Chinatown, the waterfront, North Beach , and if you like to sail, get out on the Bay . And just to drive across the Golden Gate Bridge is an attraction in itself. Stop at the lookout and watch the fog roll in.

In Sonoma County, I like LYNMAR WINERY ( , 707-829-3374). They have great wine and live music.

SCOMA's is the place for seafood. I get the petrale sole because it's a local fish.

Zane Lamprey's Drinking Made Easy Guide To San Francisco (2011):

Iconic San Francisco, or “The City by the Bay”, as its affectionately known, is the fourth most populous city in California. Located on a 46.7 square mile patch of land on the shores of the Pacific Ocean, with a population of just under a million, it’s the second most densely settled city in the United States. Spanish missionaries founded the area in 1776 and named it Yerba Buena. American settlers renamed it San Francisco in 1847 and it was the California Gold Rush in 1848, which propelled the city into a period of rapid growth. Waves of immigrants came to the city seeking fortunes, including a large number of Chinese immigrants, forming one of the largest Chinese populations outside of Asia. After the majority of the city was destroyed by a fire following the 1906 earthquake, it was quickly rebuilt. After World War II, the city sustained more growth and in the 1960s, it was the center of counterculture and the hippy movement, making it one of the most liberal cities in the world. Today, San Francisco is a popular tourist destination with internationally recognized landmarks and icons like the Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown, Coit Tower, Pier 39, Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, Lombard Street and Cable Cars. This major metropolitan city is at the forefront of the food and beverage industry, leading the charge with annual weekly events that celebrate beer and cocktails. It’s the home of the craft beer movement, and the place where many popular cocktails were created. Drinking in San Francisco has never been easier.


San Francisco has very recently developed a strong cocktail culture. Many famous drinks were created here, made famous here and are consumed here. Between Prohibition and the 1990’s, Tiki drinks and Tiki bars were synonymous with the local cocktail scene. In the mid-90s when the aesthetics of classic cocktails and lounges came into vogue, an awareness began to develop that Tiki drinks were nothing but awful cocktails in fancy glasses. San Francisco’s modern cocktail culture, featuring “farm fresh” ingredients that change with the seasons, began to develop in the late 90s and today, it’s safe to say that cocktails in SF are different than those in other cities across the nation. The newly introduced “San Francisco Cocktail Week”, now takes place every September. It’s a weeklong celebration of the community’s beverage culture filled with cocktail parties, demonstrations, classes and explorations of the city’s boozy history.

Papa Ghirardelli (The Official cocktail of San Francisco Cocktail Week)
1.5 oz Encanto Pisco
.5 oz Campari
.5 oz Martini & Rossi Rosato Vermouth
.25 oz Benedictine
.5 oz Lemon Juice
Seltzer Water, to fill
Orange Slice, for garnish

Combine Encanto Pisco, Campari, Rosato, Benedictine and lemon juice in an ice-filled
shaker and shake for 10 to 15 seconds, or until chilled. Strain over fresh ice into a Collins glass, and top with seltzer. Garnish with a slice of orange.

One of San Francisco’s early contributions to the beverage scene was Buena Vista Café , which opened in 1952. Famously known for their Irish Coffee, the drink which is a recreation of the same cocktail from the Shannon Airport in Ireland, they were the first in the US to make Irish Coffee and its nationwide popularity is attributed to the Buena Vista Café. Today, they sell more than2000 Irish Coffees and go through 55 bottles of whiskey every day. In 2008, they set a Guinness World Record by pouring the world’s largest Irish Coffee. The gigantic drink featured 10 liters of Irish whiskey, 4 pounds of sugar, almost 10 gallons of coffee and 2 gallons of whipped cream. It’s only fitting that a place that’s sold more than 38 million Irish coffees in its 58-year history, should hold this record.

Buena Vista Irish Coffee
Fill glass with hot water to get it hot
Add 2 sugar cubes (or a teaspoon and a half of sugar)
3.5 oz of Coffee
Stir coffee and sugar
Add Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey
Float fresh cream on top

Buena Vista Café | 2765 Hyde St, San Francisco, CA 94109 | (415) 474-5044

The best place to find a martini, featuring a list of over 100 martini’s is Top of the Mark , located on the top floor of one of San Francisco’s landmark hotels: The International Mark Hopkins Hotel . Opened in 1939, after owner George D. Smith decided to turn his 19th floor penthouse apartment into a cocktail lounge, it became an immediate success. With 360-degree views of the San Francisco bay, it was originally a place that WWII servicemen, entering or leaving from the Port of San Francisco, would frequent, and where after they left, their wives would convene to tearfully gaze out of the windows. With over 100 martinis to choose from, you won’t go thirsty here. While there are differing stories on the invention of the Martini, one of the most widely accepted is that it was invented in San Francisco in 1862.

Top of the Mark Martini
Fill martini glass with ice, add a small amount of Martini & Rossi Dry Vermouth
Swirl in glass and dump out ice and Vermouth
In a shaker add ice and a four count of 209 Gin
Strain gin into martini glass
Garnish with three olives

The Negroni
4 count of Bourbon
1 count of Campari
2 count of Sweet Vermouth
Stir in shaker with ice
Strain into martini glass
Garnish with a maraschino cherry

Top of the Mark | 999 California St, San Francisco, California 94108 | (415) 616-6940

Located in the Russian Hill neighborhood, you’ll find Bullitt , the first bar in the world to serve Fernet Branca on tap. A type of amaro, or Italian herbal liqueur, commonly drunk as an after dinner digestif, Fernet Branca contains 27 different herbs and spices taken from four continents. Its flavor is best described as being a cross between medicine, crushed plants and bitter mud. Among the known ingredients are aloe, gentian root, rhubarb, gum myrrh, red cinchona bark, galanga and zedoary. Made by the Fratelli Branca Distillerie in Milan Italy, they claim that the recipe has remained unchanged since its invention in 1845. Fernet gained popularity in San Francisco during Prohibition because its medicinal properties kept it legal. Today, SF accounts for 35% of the country’s Fernet Branca consumption and reportedly more per capita, than any other city in the world. The most common way to drink it in San Fran is to take it as shot and follow it with a chaser of ginger ale.

The San Franciscan
In a shaker, add ice to:
2 oz Maker’s Mark Bourbon
Splash of Fernet Branca
Orange Bitters
Pear Brandy
Top with small amount of Simple Syrup
Strain into a chilled martini glass
Add orange peel zest and garnish with peel

Bullitt | 2209 Polk Street, San Francisco, CA 94109 | (415) 268-0140

Another cocktail, often called one of the most famous and notorious pre-prohibition drinks ever created, is the Pisco Punch, which was created in San Francisco in the late 19th century. Made famous by Duncan Nichol at a bar called Bank Exchange (which no longer exists, and is now the site of the Transamerica Pyramid), it was the most popular drink in the city for more than 50 years. Other bars, like Pisco Latin Lounge , offer a similar drink recipe to the original. While it’s said that the recipe went to the grave with Nichol, many people believe this Pisco Punch recipe, taken from The California Historical Society to be the original:

Pisco Punch
1. Take a fresh pineapple. Cut it in squares about ½ by 1 ½ inches. Put these squares of fresh pineapple in a bowl of gum syrup to soak overnight. That serves the double purpose of flavoring the gum syrup with the pineapple and soaking the pineapple, both of which are used afterwards in the Pisco Punch.

2. In the morning mix in a big bowl the following:

▪ 1/2 pint (8 oz) of the gum syrup, pineapple flavored as above
▪ 1 pint (16 oz) distilled water
▪ 3/4 pint (10 oz) Fresh lemon juice
▪ 1 bottle (24 oz) Peruvian Pisco Brandy

Serve very cold but be careful not to keep the ice in too long because of dilution. Use 3 or four oz punch glasses. Put one of these above squares of pineapple in each glass. Lemon juice or gum syrup may be added to taste.

One of San Francisco’s more unique places to grab a cocktail, and a gourmet meal, is Forbes Island . Located off Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf, it’s a man-made island that is actually a barge, which weighs about 700 tons. Made to look like an island, it is actually floating vessel with a motor. Built by Forbes Thor Kiddo who inhabited it as a home for 23 years in Sausalito before moving it to San Francisco, he turned it into a restaurant in 1999. It features numerous dining rooms, some of which are actually submerged, giving diners a fish-eye view, so to speak, of the bay.

The Floating Island Cocktail
Orange Juice
99 Bananas Schnapps

Forbes Island | 39 Pier # 205 San Francisco, CA 94133 | (415) 951-4900


In a city known for its cocktails, it should come as no surprise to learn that it’s also home to many great distilleries, and some of the world’s best spirits. Host city of the The San Francisco World Spirits Competition , a prestigious annual event that celebrates excellence in international award-winning spirits, the upcoming event will place on March 18, 19 and 20, 2011 at Hotel Nikko in downtown. Each year more than 1,000 spirits are entered from 50+ countries.

San Francisco’s premier boutique distillery is Distillery No. 209 . Opened in 1996, after founder Leslie Rudd purchased some vineyard property in NapaValley and discovered a sign on the property that read “Registered Distillery 209”, he purchased the San Francisco facility and with the help of distiller Arne Hillesland, began producing Gin. One of the leaders of the “New Gin Movement”, 209 uses less juniper berries in order to soften the taste, instead bringing up flavors of citrus and spice. Their bottles are replicas of a 1914 Genever bottle, a nod to gin’s origins.

Distillery No. 209 | 401 Terry Francois Blvd Pier 50 Pier # B, San Francisco, CA 94158 | (415) 369-0209

Another local distillery, which makes three different kinds of vodka at their distillery on Treasure Island, is SF Vodka . All three of their vodkas are made using a different sugar base. Their Baker Beach Vodka is made from corn and is gluten-free, their Ocean Beach Vodka is made from sugar cane and their 2010 Double Gold Medal-winning China Beach Vodka is made from a blend of California grapes.

Anchor Brewing Company is well known for its beer (which is discussed more below), but the lesser known Anchor Distilling Company , which was established in 1993, is the producer of many types and styles of distilled spirits. Since 2004, they have won a total of 17 medals at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Their Junipero Gin, which is handmade in small batches in the classic distiller dry gin tradition, won the Double Gold Medal. They also make three different types of single malt whiskeys, and a Genever, or traditional Dutch gin.

One place in the city where you can find a unique spirit, that you can’t get anywhere else, is Red’s Place . The oldest bar in Chinatown, Red’s has a unique medicinal wine called Ng Ka Py that you can only get here. At 48% alcohol, this traditional Chinese liqueur is made with maltose, cane sugar and various plants. It’s generally consumed straight up. Another popular spirit at Red’s is Moutai Yingbin. This 106-proof high-end liquor is the National Liquor of China.

Red’s Place | 672 Jackson Street, San Francisco, CA 94133 | (415) 956-4490


The American craft beer explosion has long had its epicenter in San Francisco, where brewing techniques and traditions have been thriving since before the Gold Rush. Anchor Brewing Company , which was founded in 1896 and purchased by its current owner, Fritz Maytag, in 1965, is famously responsible for the resurgence of craft beer in the United States. Plagued with troubles from its inception, like several fires, the 1906 earthquake,Prohibition, and fickle beer consumers who seemed more apt to drink lagers instead of ales, Maytag was able to turn the failing brewery into one of the most well known breweries in the world and lead the way for the craft beer revolution. In 1971, Maytag created Anchor Steam, an iconic San Franciscan ale that has become synonymous with the beginning of the craft beer movement, and also created a new category of ale: the California Common beer, a derivative of historic steam beer. Today Anchor has five year round beers: Anchor Steam, Anchor Small, Liberty Ale, Anchor Porter and Old Foghorn Barleywine. They also create seasonal brews throughout the year, like the Humming Ale and Christmas Ale.

Anchor Brewing Co | 1705 Mariposa St, San Francisco, CA 94107 | (415) 863-8350

Speakeasy Ales & Lagers is another San Francisco Brewery that’s making its mark on the craft beer scene. Founded in 1997, their flagship ales include Prohibition Ale and Big Daddy IPA. In 2000they began bottling and now their beers are available all over the US and in several other countries.

Another popular brewpub, that has limited distribution, is 21st Amendment Brewery and Restaurant , located just a few blocks from AT&T Ballpark. Founded in 2000 by Nico Freccia and Shaun O’Sullivan, 21st Amendment is named for the law that repealed Prohibition. Their beers, like the Bitter American, Monk’s Blood, Hell or High Watermelon Wheat, Brew Free or Die IPA, and Fireside Chat are sold in cans and are currently only available in 14 states.

Offering Spanish style tapas and great beer, in the SOMA neighborhood, is Thirsty Bear Brewing Co . The bar’s unique name came about as home brewer at the time, Ron Silberstein was reading an article in the newspaper with the headline “Thirsty Bear Bites Man for Cold Beer”. He knew after reading the article that this would become the name his brewery, which he eventually opened in 1996. The man who was bit by the bear in the article, Victor Kozlov, was immortalized when Silberstein named a beer after him: Koslov Stout. Thirsty Bear doesn’t bottle or can its beer, but you can find a great selection of their certified organic beers on tap at their brewpub.

Located in the Haight-Ashbury district of the city, you’ll find another notable beer place, Magnolia Pub and Brewery and just down the street is Toronado Pub. Magnolia makes their own beer, like the Blue Bell Bitter, Spud Boy’s IPA, and Spooky Tooth Stout, while Toronado specializes in Belgian ales and is known for its impressive draft beer selection.


San Francisco is known for many important culinary contributions. In the 1960s a popular commercial jingle helped put San Francisco on the map with “Rice-a-Roni, the San Francisco Treat!”

The city by the bay is also home to sourdough bread, which was made popular around the time of the Gold Rush as it was the main bread that was made in Northern California. It’s proximity to the ocean, and temperamental weather makes it a prime location and climate for clam chowder, or for clam chowder that’s served in a sourdough bread bowl.

Ghiradelli Chocolate is also located in San Francisco. It was incorporated in 1852 and is the second oldest chocolate company in the United States.

A lesser-known San Franciscan culinary invention is the Popsicle . In 1905, 11-year old Frank Epperson was mixing powdered flavoring for soda and water. Heleft the concoction on the porch, with a stick in it, which he was using to stir it. Overnight, the temperature got so low that it froze. Eighteen years later, inspired by this childhood experiment, he introduced the frozen pop on a stick to the public at an amusement park in Alameda, CA, calling it “the Epsicle ice pop” which he later changed to Popsicle.


Near San Fran Airport, Golf Magazine likes:

Poplar Creek , the Place to Play by SFO
October 30, 2008
by Rick Lipsey

Surely, Poplar Creek Golf Club isn’t the greatest course in the Bay Area, which is home to meccas like San Francisco Golf Club, Olympic and Harding Park. But considering that two of those three tracks are impossible to play for most folks, Poplar Creek is definitely a good option if you’re flying into San Francisco Airport and have a few extra hours. The course is just a couple of miles from the terminals; it’s super cheap ($35 on weekdays); it’s superbly maintained; and it’s darn fun and not too hard.

I recently played Poplar Creek with some high-school buddies after I landed at SFO. I had a few hours to kill before a business meeting, so before flying I called my friends, and they arranged to play hooky from work.

It had a fun opening hole. After slicing a drive on the straightaway 490-yard par 5, I had 235 to the green. I pushed my three-wood a bit, heard a monstrously loud “DING” and watched the ball ricochet sideways off a huge electric wire tower. Thankfully, my ball ended up in the fairway, and the towers didn’t come into play the rest of the day.

The course is relatively flat and short (par 70, 6,042 yards), but there are lots of fun doglegs, and the par 3s, which range from 136 to 210 yards, are a strong challenge. There’s also a good bit of water with five lakes, two waterfalls and some streams.

Poplar Creek is one of California’s most popular tracks, logging about 100,000 rounds each year. One of this year’s rounds was one of the greatest ever played anywhere. In September, Adam Ichikawa, 17, a senior at Mountain View High, shot a 12-under 58 in the second round of the 54-hole San Mateo County Championship. While breaking the course record by four shots, Adam made 10 birdies, one eagle and seven pars. Adam ended the 54-hole event with a 12-under 198, and he won the title with a par on the second hole in a sudden-death playoff.



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