Spotlight travel

Sipping Spotlight: San Francisco’s Smuggler’s Cove

Nothing beats a Tiki bar

Smuggler’s Cove is one of those bars that you have to experience to fully understand. Stepping inside is like transporting yourself into an entirely new world. There’s both a waterfall and a pond, a wealth of pirate paraphernalia, and more than 500 rums from around the world.

In fact Smuggler’s Cove boasts the largest rum selection in the United States, of which they use to make cocktails from over three centuries of rum history. The bar has a strong local following of tiki geeks and rum lovers who are there to run through the entirety of the bars menu, and are rewarded for their loyalty with both cocktail and rum-tasting affinity clubs, earning them access to secret menus of additional rare sippers. The very few who manage to pass the Master of the Cove level, with 300 rums sampled, are taken as the bar’s guests on a rum distillery trip with owner Martin Cate.


If it all sounds ridiculously over the top, it’s because it is. But, Tiki is all about flair, and a bar that can boast both a wild concept and world class cocktail program is hard to find. This leave Smuggler’s Cove incredibly busy. A consistent lineup outside is a mix of both travellers and locals, all vying for a spot at the bar.

Since launching in 2009, the bar has been showered with accolades, including the World’s 50 Best. It continues to be one of the finest examples of modern day Tiki, and should be on anyone’s list to go visit at least once in their lifetime.


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