5 Drinks for Right Now

seville orange spritz at el chato

Seville Orange Spritz at El Chato

On a recent very atmospherically wet evening, I went to El Chato in the east Mission District where apparently the power had just turned back on, but I wouldn’t have guessed it had gone out in the first place. The moment I walked in, I felt like I was immediately vibing — angelic hanging Jamon lamps glowed, turntables filled the room with lifting beats and casual diners cozied up in the lively space like there was no storm.

Despite the weather, I felt like ordering a spritz. El Chato has a big vermouth (with optional plus soda section)  menu and one that popped out was the Mommenpop Seville Orange Vermouth from Napa’s acclaimed winemaker, Samantha Sheehan. This particular vermouth is a chardonnay infused with locally grown Seville oranges. Seville oranges are named after the city in Spain, which felt on brand for this Spanish-style taberna.

How does it taste? Like sunshine in a cup. Like the literal combination of orange and wine. Despite being over ice, it was warming from the orange and tangy. Every time I took another sip, it was like the citrus filled my nostrils with fresh bursts of its zest. Excellent with the vinegared white anchovies and potato chips.

El Chato, 2301 Bryant St., elchatosf.com


copper penny at bar piccino

Copper Penny at Bar Piccino

The Copper Penny cocktail at Piccino’s new-ish bar, Bar Piccino, is beautifully complex yet focused. The list of ingredients includes blanco tequila, passionfruit, lemon and coffee. If you’re in a post-dinner haze where you want to go out, but need a pick-me-up that’s not quite espresso (or espresso martini), try this out. The light essence of coffee is a gentle kick to the senses, and the tequila, tangy passionfruit and citrus all come through clearly. It’s the elegant cocktail you’ll want to sip on while watching the sunset at the beach, but is only served at Bar Piccino.

Bar Piccino, 1003 Minnesota St., barpiccino.com


hot chocolate with cardamom marshmellow at loquat

Oat Milk Hot Chocolate with Cardamom Marshmallow at Loquat

Loquat, which just opened in the former 20th Century Cafe space, is creating some noteworthy bevvies (beverages), besides the obvious (and deliciously on point) main pastry focus. One morning, I tried out the hot chocolate because I guess I wanted to feel fully full of coziness and nostalgia. It delivered.

I was given the choice of cow’s or oat milk. I went with oat, which I imagine gave the drink a little lighter body and obviously slightly oatier flavor. The temperature was perfectly hot and sippable, but not scalding. As it cooled, the smooth texture came through and the dark chocolate they used had a hint of citrus. It’s a chocolatey mystery that I don’t plan on investigating. The mugs and plates are all beautiful, seemingly hand-painted with casual brushes and blots, in neutral tones.

The real kicker of this drink is the perfectly cubed cardamom marshmallow that sits atop. It’s speckled with the spice that gives the marshmallow and overall drink notes of pine and mint. Its sweet flesh very, very slowly melts into the chocolate, giving you plenty of time to attack with your spoon. The day I went, my hot chocolate came with another treat, a small piece of halva, a sesame-based candy, that I nibbled on between sips and bites of babka.

Loquat, 198 Gough St., loquatsf.com

bottle of stagiare sufficiently whelming at bar part time

2021 Stagiaire “Sufficiently Whelming” at Bar Part Time

When you walk into Bar Part Time, you’ll notice this is not your average wine bar, natural or otherwise — and it’s not trying to be. On the weekends it will most definitely feel like a club; a lengthy standing room only bar and sexy booths across the way lead you to a crowded dance floor and a revered DJ in the back. Yet, earlier in the week or most early evenings there’s often plenty of space for catching up and tasting wine from the fridge or the glass list.

I recently went here on one of those buzzy weekend nights and picked out a bottle from the fridge with a label more art-y than info-y, which turned out to be totally fine. Actually, it was phenomenally good.

It was a bottle of Stagiaire’s 2021 blend of sauvignon blanc and chardonnay from vines planted in the 1940s in Redwood Valley. “The wine opens up somewhat flinty, smoky … then there’s citrus, kind of on the lime side. Key lime pie … and coconut water, that vineyard always gives me coconut water,” Brent Mayeaux, the winemaker, told me and I couldn’t agree more. It’s a wine concentrated with flavor and a sturdy yet light body that has this elegantly natural focus. “It’s one of the best white wines I’ve made honestly, ha ha, but it’s too ‘clean’ to be cool on the natty scene,” he said, which is where I disagree. I felt quite cool drinking it, but I guess I’m not your average natural wine drinker.

Bar Part Time, 496 14th St., barparttime.com


yuzu americano at breadbelly

Sparkling Yuzu Americano at Breadbelly

The pastry and sandwiches are often the focus of everyone’s attention (and for good reason!) when they come to Breadbelly, but the drinks are also incredibly interesting and delicious. One weekend, I drove to their Richmond District outpost for croissants and a sandwich. I ordered the Sesame Horchata and this Sparkling Yuzu Americano. They sound like siblings on a menu, but they couldn’t be more independent from each other. Maybe it’s because I’ve been adding thin peels of citrus to my Chemex coffee filter in the morning, but while the horchata was deliciously rich, sweet and nutty, the yuzu americano was my clear favorite. It had that typical hint of yuzu tartness, but was mostly really fragrant with mandarin orange and grapefruit, and had this simple, refreshing quality thanks to ice and chilled espresso.

Breadbelly, 1401 Clement St., breadbellysf.com