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Drinking the Drinks at Cavaña SF

San Francisco went from a city of very few rooftop bars to... a few I guess. I remember when El Techo de Lolinda was new and exciting, then we had Charmaine's, Kaiyo Rooftop, and now Cavaña. There are several new ones in the East Bay also. 

Well I just had the chance to check out the new 17th floor rooftop cocktail bar Cavaña in the Luma Hotel near the baseball park in San Francisco.  

The lounge spans the top of the building with outdoor balconies on either end and the main bar in the middle, indoors. One of the balcony areas has a second bar; I'm not sure if that will only be open for private rentals of that area but that would be my guess. 

There are great views on either side. One side looks downtown at the Salesforce Tower; the other faces Potrero Hill but from one corner you get a stunning view of the Sutro Tower. There was a line of people waiting to take selfies in that one corner. There is a narrower strip of balcony along a third side with two-top tables that faces Oakland across the Bay. 




My Three Favorite Drinks

The food is small plates shareables, as this is a cocktail bar rather than a restaurant. The drinks (menu also here) I failed to photograph well, because when the sun goes down all the lighting changes and it's not great for indoor photography. It's great for looking at the view instead, and that's better. 

The drinks have Latin American ingredients in both the spirits and the mixers, and the sourcing of them can be an interesting challenge, according to beverage director Emilio Salehi (his twin brother Miguel is the bar manager; both were previously at The Beehive). He told us that for the hoja santa he's getting it from a woman in the Mission who has a plant in her back yard, and he's going through tons as it's in a popular drink.



That drink is the Kiwi Hoja, a clarified milk punch with hoja santa, mezcal, brandy, and kiwi. It was my first drink order and my favorite drink on the whole menu. (I kind of have a knack for choosing the best drink first.) Bright, fruity, clear; nailed it. 




Other favorite drinks were the Caña Parchita (oaxacan aguardiente, bajan rum, passionfruit, coconut ancho chile, lime) that is served on pebble ice,

and the Papaya Uva (pisco acholado, papaya, grapefruit aperitif, elderflower, meyer lemon) which despite how it reads is more like a Martini than it is a tiki drink. This was my third boozy drink here in a row and I was feeling fine. 


The Other Drinks

The Palo Mandarina (gin, mandarin, palo santo, bitter aperitif, goldenberry, bianco vermouth) is not a White Negroni but somewhat in the mildly bitter zone.  

Elote Pasilla (mexican corn whiskey, reposado tequila, blackened corn, pasilla chile, bitter vermouth) smells of corn and is a boozy rocks drink. Corn-fashioned? 



Coco Cafecito (venezuelan rum, toasted coconut, px sherry, coffee, almond, orange salt) addresses the Espresso Martini and is super coffee-forward.

The Sangrita Chela (mezcal espadin, sangrita verde, cerveza clara, poblano salt) is drinkable as hellll but would be even greater as a brunch drink. Come to think of it, this would probably be a great spot for brunch, if only they were open before 4PM. Are rooftop brunches a thing? Maybe not yet. 



They also offer a sort of bottle service for half and full bottles of tequila, mezcal, or rum. They brought us a mini-sample of mezcal that came with a board of fruits (passionfruit, grapefruit, apple slices) sprinkled with tasty Oaxacan salt. I believe the regular service will come with agua frescas or other mixers too.  


The below drink is the Chicha Tonica. 


Definitely worth checking out, and if you want to take better pictures of your drinks than I did, get there at 4 when it opens!


Want to see better pictures? Check them out here on Eater



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