The Best Booze Shopping in San Francisco

With such a marvelous bar scene, San Francisco residents make no exception when they drink at home. From natural wine stores to craft beer shops to whiskey-centric merchants, the city is packed with options for drinking well when drinking in. Often these stores double as grocers and provisions stores or are licensed as wine bars, so snacking and drinking through the options before making a decision isn’t out of the question.

  • 1

    Ales Unlimited

    This Pacific Heights store often has over 900 beers available, including plenty of rare releases, California suds and a great selection of Belgian and Trappist ales. The store prides itself on the the care they take to keep beers cool and fresh despite the massive stock they keep, so rest assured that what you're buying is in tip-top shape.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft beer
  • 2

    Arlequin Wine Merchants

    From the group behind Absinthe and Comstock Saloon, Arlequin does everything well, including monthly tasting classes and hosting visiting winemakers. They excel in French, but there's also a good selection of natural and California wines. The café offers a nice little menu plus lots of wine by the glass.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • vintage wine
    • French wine
    • champagne
  • 3

    Bay Grape

    Run by young husband-and-wife team Josiah Baldivino (of the Michael Mina Group) and Stevie Stacionis, Bay Grape is equal parts wine shop and tasting room. The selection ranges from cider to Belgian beer to natural wine to local sodas. Bottles can be consumed on the airy premises at the big communal table for a $5 corkage fee alongside cheese and charcuterie plates if you want to make an afternoon of it (and you should).

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    KNOWN FOR

    • champagne
    • charcuterie
  • 4

    Beer Revolution

    Oakland's defacto craft beer shop, Beer Revolution always has 50 taps and hundreds of bottles passing through the packed store. Rare, weird and local—Beer Revolution has them all listed on a big blackboard above the bar, and they'll only charge you a buck to drink any of the bottles you pick up on premise.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft beer
    • outdoor / patio
  • 5

    Biondivino

    Owner of Biondivino, Ceri Smith, is a San Francisco institution herself. With eight years under her belt at the Russian Hill store, Smith recently took the position of co-wine director of the re-imagined Tosca Cafe, swiftly earning the title of Food & Wine's Sommeliers of the Year. Back at her shop, the shelves are filled with Italian classics and some more esoteric offerings, as well as a lot of champagne. If you're looking to explore Italy's avant-garde, with a side of grower champagne, Biondivino is your spot and Smith is your girl.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • champagne
    • natural wine
    • Italian wine
  • 6

    Cask

    Part of the whiskey-loving Future Bars group (Bourbon & Branch and Rickhouse), Cask has one of the deepest brown spirits selections in the city. It's also the place to stock up on vermouths, quinquinas, aperitif liqeurs and all the weird modifiers a cocktail nerd needs to recreate the classics. Cask carries wine, but this is a shrine to American whiskey first and foremost. (There are two other locations, including one in Berkeley.)

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    KNOWN FOR

    • lots of whiskey
  • 7

    City Beer Store

    Built on the premise of a wine bar, the City Beer Store offers a number of taps from which to sample craft beer, but also offers retail like many San Francisco venues. Aside from the short draft list, there are dozens of bottles and a low corkage fee if you wish to drink one at the bar. The selection is heavy on West Coast brews, but includes lots of other North American producers, from Colorado to Maine.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • craft beer
  • 8

    Healthy Spirits

    With two locations in San Francisco, Healthy Spirits is the city's go-to for rare Belgian beers and brown spirits. The shop is stacked, floor to ceiling, with Trappist ales, lambics and Geuze. And if you're visiting from out of town, this is the place to stock up on imports beers not widely distributed outside of California.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • lots of whiskey
    • craft beer
  • 9

    K & L Wine Merchants

    One of America's most extensive and value-driven wine and spirits stores, there's very little you won't find here—and at great prices—including rare spirits releases, back-vintage wine from Burgundy, the Mosel, and more. From monthly wine clubs to excellent service, K & L is a jack of all trades.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • low wine markups
    • good wine
    • vintage wine
    • lots of whiskey
  • 10

    Little Vine

    Little Vine is the kind of provisions shop every neighborhood covets. Stocked, European-style, with cheese, chocolate, charcuterie and—most importantly—wine, the tiny place operates as the essential corner store for last-minute dinner parties and cocktail hour spreads. The store also offers killer sandwiches that rotate daily and act as the perfect browsing food while gathering essentials. Owners Jay Esopenko and Melissa Gugni also own Union Larder in Russian Hill, a sort of larger version of Little Vine.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • charcuterie
    • cheese selection
  • 11

    Ruby Wine

    A tiny haven for organic, biodynamic and natural wines, Ruby is a wine person's dream. Though the space is limited, there is a wealth of bottles from all over the world, featuring mostly French and a few New California producers. While they have a small selection of high end wines, the store's bread and butter is wines that fall under $30.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • low wine markups
    • vintage wine
  • 12

    Terroir

    A wine bar-cum-wine merchant, Terroir is on par with San Francisco's original back-to-the-land movement, specializing in wines from small producers that focus on natural and biodynamic practices. Though the list leans French—with lots of Jura and Loire in the mix—more California producers are showing up by the year. It's a nerdy list with serious focus, but the staff is helpful and will taste you on anything open if you show interest.

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    KNOWN FOR

    • natural wine
    • bar food
    • wine shop

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