5 to Try: Martinis

Since there's not a lot of room for creativity or error with the classic martini, what makes the drink special is the right setting. You obviously don't want to order a martini at some sketchy dive--both for practical reasons and your own safety--but even a respectable bar won't cut it. No, a proper martini is served in a place with style, a place where you could picture the great martini drinkers like Don Draper, Dean Martin or Mae West draped along the bar. Or, at least a place where the super-sized martinis get you really, really smashed.

Updated: November 06, 2009

SF's Best Martini Bars


56 Gold St, San Francisco, CA 94133

Located inside what was once an assay office dating back to the Gold Rush, Bix oozes vintage sophistication from its breathtaking, deco-inspired interior to its impeccable service. It's easy to picture Draper at the sweeping mahogany bar, savoring an ice-cold martini after a hard day dreaming up ads for Pan Am and suavely harassing his female underlings.

Big Four Restaurant

1075 California St, San Francisco, CA 94108

At this nostalgic and manly power-broker haunt in the Huntington Hotel on top of Nob Hill, you'll get a master-of-the-universe feeling along with your martini. Lounge in overstuffed club chairs before a flaming hearth in the wood-paneled drinking den, and imagine you're a railroad tycoon or bank magnate.


300 Grove St, San Francisco, CA 94102

Jardiniere's brick facade is a foil for the stunning and opulent glamour that captures the sophisticated era of the martini's heyday. The marble and mahogany bar is the perfect place to get your "shaken, not stirred"--the only problem is resisting the temptation of the skilled batenders' other top-notch cocktails.

Blondie's Bar & No Grill

540 Valencia St, San Francisco, CA 94110

Blondie's isn't the classiest joint (see the plasma screen mounted to the ceiling above the dance floor), but they make up for it with dangerously massive martinis--yes, that's a full pint of hard alcohol--and outdoor seating where you can watch the Valencia street drunks pass by as you, sip-by-sip, become one.