Related Articles: Bars, All

Better Than Tap Water

Spirits, booze, drink, firewater, grog! Whatever you call it, you can have it in a variety of forms such as sake, wine or scotch. In San Francisco, these spirits could be a healthier imbiber considering that our tap water was recently graded as "poor" by the National Resources Defense Council.

True Sake
Sake is a wonderful alternative libation to tap water. Don't be alarmed by what appears to be a disco ball-size beehive that hangs over the entry way of True Sake. Upon closer examination, you'll see that it is a brown cedar ball. Originally green, the ball turns brown, thus signaling the end of the sake brewing process.

The cedar ball is always brown outside of True Sake where you will find plenty of fresh sake ready to drink. They are packaged in beautiful bottles with impressive labels that signify not only quality but also art.

President and tastemaker, Beau Timkin, selects the freshest seasonal sakes and goes to the "valley of shadows" to bring the best to his chilled sake store- the first of its kind in San Francisco. There are nearly 100 varieties with a range of sizes. Prices range from $4 to $180 per bottle.

The Wine House
At the bottom of Potrero Hill, stands a block warehouse with cool cement floors. The Wine House smells of yeasty, wooden wine crates which hail, from not only our neighboring wine valleys, but also from France, Italy, Australia and Spain.

The selection can be overwhelming but their website, eases the decision making with easy categories such as "Best Under $15" or "Best of Tanzer." The site also offers reviews and allows you to create your own wine portfolio. Parking is a cinch and the knowledgeable staff can provide all you to need to know about selecting that perfect red at the right price.

John Walker & Company
If you want something more than just wine, then you cannot miss John Walker & Company. Serving customers since 1933 (just when Prohibition ended), this shop not only has its own cellar for wines but also offers a stellar range of spirits from around the world. There is an array of vodka, gin, rum, whiskeys and scotch. There are also great vintages hidden in John Walker's oak walls and cabinets, such as the Cristal champagne. Depending on the size, prices range start at $5 and reach $500 for the rare selections.

For those who work in the Financial District, it is a very convenient stop. The very knowledgeable staff can help you find the right tonic to alleviate any stress and to lift any celebration.

So whatever suits your fancy, whether it be chilled sake, a syrah or a malted scotch, you can find it in San Francisco. This December marks the 70th anniversary of the end of Prohibition, so let us toast to that joyous occasion, our health and these alternatives to our city's tap water.

John Walker & Company
175 Sutter between Montgomery & Kearny
Hours: Monday - Friday (9 am - 6:30 pm), Saturday (12 noon - 5 pm)
Phone: 415.986.2707

True Sake
560 Hayes Street
Hours: Tuesday - Thursday (12 noon - 5:30 pm), Friday (12 noon - 6:30 pm)
Saturday (1 - 5:30 pm), Sunday (1 - 5 pm)
Phone: 415.355.9555, 800.949.3267

The Wine House
129 Carolina between 16th & 17th
Hours: Monday - Friday (10 am - 6 pm), Saturday (10 am - 5 pm)
Phone: 415.355.9463