Party Earth Review Yo-ho-ho and holy crap, there’s a lot of bottles of rum at Smuggler’s Cove! More than two hundred rums and seventy-plus rum-infused cocktails to be exact, from slow-sipping varieties to flower-laden frou... ... read full review
650 Gough Street
San Francisco, California 94102
BART: Civic Center MUNI F Line: Market Street & Gough Street
Western Addition, San Francisco –
Yo-ho-ho and holy crap, there’s a lot of bottles of rum at Smuggler’s Cove! More than two hundred rums and seventy-plus rum-infused cocktails to be exact, from slow-sipping varieties to flower-laden frou-frou drinks strong enough to take down a thoroughbred.
Dubbed one of the world’s best bars by Drinks International in 2011, this über popular drinking den could easily pass for a Pirates of the Caribbean set, with heavy wooden beams wrapped in thick ropes, scattered oak barrels and treasure chests, and a general excess of buccaneer’s booty strewn about.
Patrons – limited to just forty-nine at any given time – are a far cry from gritty swashbucklers, with older professionals sharing tables with rowdy college kids, boisterous groups of girls pounding flaming punches next to die-hard rum snobs, and plenty of folks drinking the custom-made beer, wine, and other non-rum libations.
The pervasive nautical theme continues in the second bar downstairs, while a mezzanine overlooking the main floor goes the tiki route, with bamboo stalks, wicker, and dried grass lining the walls. Busy every day, long lines are all but guaranteed on Friday and Saturday nights, so groups of friends looking to drink together are wise to show up at the same time.
An excellent place to drop anchor any night, Smuggler’s Cove is a kitsch-filled hotspot where patrons can safely go a little overboard.
Rum lovers, party-happy college kids, young professionals letting loose, lower key couples grabbing a drink before the crunch, and pre-and post-concert attendees from the nearby Performing Art Center venues, 20s to 50s.
Eclectic but barely audible playlist. Occasional live bands.
No food. The Rumbustion Society Club is free to join and allows patrons to work their way through all the venue’s rum to become “Masters of the Cove.” Happy Hour daily 5–6pm.
Beer $4–$7+, wine $6–$9+, cocktails $8–$16+.
Casual to business casual: band T-shirts, jeans, hoodies, baseball caps, shorts, Hawaiian shirts, collared shirts, summer dresses, some dressier wear on the theater crowd.
Friday and Saturday nights for potential 30-plus minute wait times but a bumping scene once inside, or earlier in the week to shiver the timbers with a few too many drinks but less of a crowd.
Swap pirates for knights at Edinburgh Castle (950 Geary Street), which offers tons of Scottish-themed décor, pool, live bands and comedy acts, and great daily Happy Hour specials.