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A Night Out In Union Square

Union Square (credit: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

The complexion of Union Square changes dramatically when the sun goes down and stores lock up for the night. Perhaps you've got friends from out of town staying in a Union Square hotel, or you want to hang out before or after a show? Why not pocket your Uber or Lyft dollars and stay right in the 'hood for the evening. Enjoy a cabaret act, wine tasting underground, a cognac bar, an excellent glass of California wine or a cocktail with bar bites at happy hour.

Feinstein's at the Nikko
222 Mason St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 394-1111

In an intimate cabaret-style nightclub, performers from the worlds of Broadway, cabaret, comedy, drag, jazz, rhythm and blues take to the stage. Increasingly difficult to find in America's cities, this kind of performance venue is a noteworthy destination. Michael Feinstein, principal conductor of the Pasadena Pops, is widely known as the Ambassador of the Great American Songbook. There's nowhere better to enjoy your favorite, fabulous songs of the 20th century, from Ira and George Gershwin to Frank Sinatra to Marvin Hamlisch.

The European, San Francisco (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)


The European
490 Geary St.
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 345-2303

he Prohibition Era that inspired great song composers and lyricists plays out at this stylish bar and lounge in the century-old Warwick Hotel. House favorites such as the old fashioned, negroni, gimlet, cosmo or lemon drop hark back to speakeasy days, now spinning out new twists on those classic cocktails that emerged in the 1920s. Exotic liquors sourced from Europe are used in creations to pair with the bar food selections of braised pork sliders, oysters, house cut fries, steak bites and more. Weekday happy hour extends until 7 p.m., with bubbly cocktails at $6.

Bluestem Brasserie, San Francisco (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)


Bluestem Brasserie
1 Yerba Buena Lane
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 547-1111

Why order a gin gimlet when you can have one made with Genever's juniper berries? Bluestem's More Cowbell Gimlet is made using Diep9 Young Grain Genever, cucumber, mint, lemon, lime and St. Germain to revive the old-school spirit that was the precursor of gin. Try it at the bar accompanied by a plate of lamb meatball sliders during happy hour. Take advantage of Bluestem's open air terrace in warm weather, or ward off a chill with a cloud-inspired Karl the Fog, served with brandy, Benedictine, Frangelico, coffee liqueur and toasted marshmallow meringue.

E&O Kitchen and Bar, San Francisco (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)


E&O Kitchen and Bar
314 Sutter St.
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 693-0303

Happy hour is from 3-6 p.m. Monday through Saturday at this contemporary Asian-inspired spot, where the long bar under high ceilings is a great place for savory bites and creative cocktails. The bar team features specialty cocktails such as Sutter Punch with pineapple-infused Matusalem rum, pineapple gum and lime, and the Blushing Geisha with El Jimador tequila, sake, prickly pear and lime. At happy hour, beer is $4, wine is $6 and oysters and dumplings are $1. The super popular Indonesian corn fritter bites are $3.50 and the Pu Pu Platter is a crowd-pleaser with fritter bites, sliders, ribs, satay and ahi tartare for $22.

Gaspar Brasserie, San Francisco (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)


Gaspar Brasserie
185 Sutter St.
San Francisco, CA 94109
(415) 576-8800

The elegant staircase leads upstairs to where Bar Manager John Codd, formerly of The Slanted Door Group and 15 Romolo, has created a new concept Cognac Room at this downtown hot spot. San Francisco's largest collection of brandy-based cocktails are served in an exclusive feeling, dimly-lit space in a cross between Madison Avenue Mad Men and Left Bank Paris. If you're in the mood for cocktails, champagne or wine, pull up a leather stool or settle into a tufted banquette at a second bar on the main level, where vintage lighting and chandeliers reflect on hand-painted ceilings and polished brass bar rails.

Press Club, San Francisco (credit: Laurie Jo Miller Farr)


Press Club
20 Yerba Buena Lane
San Francisco, CA 94103
(415) 744-5000

The stairs here lead down to a posh wine bar. If you're into wine, head for the Press Club. Tucked in the lane at the foot of the Four Seasons Hotel, Press Club is one of the city's most sophisticated bar and lounge spaces. Seating is thoughtfully arranged in contemporary living room spaces that work equally well for groups of two or twelve. Presented as a sexy urban cellar tasting room with a most impressively curated selection, Sommelier and Wine Director Mauro Cirilli offers expanded options by the glass through the use of the clever Coravin wine access system.

Laurie Jo Miller Farr loves walkable cities. A tourism industry professional and transplanted New Yorker by way of half-a-lifetime in London, she's writing about the best of the bay and beyond for Yahoo, USA Today, eHow, and on

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