05/02/2013 03:23 pm ET Updated Jul 02, 2013

A Bar Sprint In Cocktail-Crazed San Francisco -


As any boozehound worth his salt-rimmed glass will tell you, the City by the Bay is New York's only real rival for American cocktail supremacy. Yet the last time I was in San Francisco was in 2006, which was also, coincidentally, the year I began covering the cocktail beat. And in the accelerated world of mixological invention, seven years might as well be a few generations. In February, I decided to head West to reacquaint myself. The trick: I had a lot of catching up to do, and only a few nights to do it in. A whirlwind bar crawl -- sprint? -- ensued. I encountered a cocktail scene that features distinct leanings (citrus, pisco, Chartreuse, mezcal), but like New York's, one that is also impressively varied. Did I survive? You'll have to read to the end.