San Francisco

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Cocktail History

The San Francisco is a rather unknown classic cocktail recipe that was first published in Café Royal Cocktail Book by William J. Tarling and the United Kingdom Bartenders Guild in 1937. It’s traditionally made with equal parts sloe gin, dry vermouth, and sweet vermouth paired with a few dashes of bitters for extra flavor and balance.

Cocktail Ingredients

To make this cocktail, you’ll need the following ingredients:

Sloe Gin: This is the base spirit. It is a British liqueur made with gin and sloes, a relative of the plum. We went with Plymouth Sloe Gin.

Dry Vermouth: This is a fortified wine that adds sweetness. We used Dolin Dry Vermouth de Chambéry because it’s light and airy.

Sweet Vermouth: This is a fortified wine that adds sweetness. We used Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth because it’s Alex’s favorite sweet vermouth, with dark notes of herbs, figs, licorice, cinnamon, and cocoa.

Angostura Aromatic Bitters: This is a type of spirit infused with botanicals. They add more spice and complexity to the drink and tie the other flavors together.

Orange Bitters: This is a type of spirit infused with botanicals and orange flavor. It adds a bit of the citrus’s sweetness to balance out the bitter ingredients. We used Scrappy’s Bitters Orange Bitters because they offer the classic taste of bitter oranges, herbs, and spices.

Cherry: This is the garnish. We prefer Luxardo Maraschino cherries.

Tasting Notes

The San Francisco features the unmistakable aroma and initial taste of sloe gin, is balanced by vermouth notes and bitterness while held in the mouth, and slides down the throat with a pleasant and lingering bitterness.

Our Opinion of This Cocktail Recipe: We both liked this drink better than either of us thought we would because the three flavors strike a great balance. Even those who don’t usually care for the prominent taste of vermouth in cocktails like Kendall, will still really enjoy this one, and anyone who does like Alex will be all the happier to have found this recipe.

Alex’s Take: “This is actually better than I thought it would be after first glancing at the recipe; what I figured would be an overly candy-sweet drink turned out to be a decently balanced sip, with appropriate dryness to balance out the sweetness. The sloe gin brought its slight bitterness to the aftertaste, which I found to be very pleasant. I would say that as far as sweeter martini-style beverages go, this one is great for anybody wanting to venture into less sugary territory.”

Kendall’s Take: “The San Francisco has an almost candy-sweet aroma, and the initial taste is that way too until the vermouth and slight bitterness of the spirit come through in the aftertaste. I don’t usually go for sloe gin drinks in general, but I quite liked this one. It’s very unique.”

Recipe

This cocktail recipe was adapted from Winter Warmers: 60 Cosy Cocktails for Autumn & Winter by Jassy Davis.

AuthorWinter WarmersPrep Time5 minsRating

Ingredients
 1 oz Sloe Gin
 1 oz Dry Vermouth
 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
 1 dash Angostura Aromatic Bitters
 1 dash Orange Bitters
 1 Cherry

Method
1

Add sloe gin, dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, Angostura aromatic bitters, orange bitters, and ice to a shaker.

2

Shake for 10-20 seconds.

3

Strain into a cocktail glass.

4

Garnish with cherry.

Ingredients

Ingredients
 1 oz Sloe Gin
 1 oz Dry Vermouth
 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
 1 dash Angostura Aromatic Bitters
 1 dash Orange Bitters
 1 Cherry

Directions

Method
1

Add sloe gin, dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, Angostura aromatic bitters, orange bitters, and ice to a shaker.

2

Shake for 10-20 seconds.

3

Strain into a cocktail glass.

4

Garnish with cherry.

San Francisco

Tools & Glassware We Recommend

More Gin Cocktails

If you like this gin-based cocktail recipe, here are a few others we’ve tried that you may enjoy:

Trellis Gin & Tonic: An ombré gin cocktail made with cucumber and rose pink tonic water, lime juice, and a rolled cucumber

Gin Rickey: A classic gin cocktail made with lime juice, club soda, and a lime wheel

Lemon Thyme Gin & Tonic: A lemon gin cocktail made with lemon juice, thyme syrup, Indian tonic water, and a lemon wedge

Florodora: A gin cocktail made with lime juice, raspberry syrup, simple syrup, ginger ale, a lime slice, and raspberries

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