Drinks from San Francisco’s Sleazy Past

It's hard to picture a goldminer drinking anything but rotgut out of a jug. And yet, goldminers and cocktails are interestingly linked in San Francisco history. When the 1848 Sierra Nevada gold strike flooded San Francisco with new money and people trying to make some, a rough and wild red-light district sprang up to accommodate the influx. Known as the Barbary Coast, it was a seedy, dilapidated nine-block-long neighborhood packed with whorehouses, opium and gambling dens, and bars. Using exotic ingredients coming into San Francisco's port from all over the world, bartenders invented new drinks. Many of those cocktails are now being revived and tweaked by the city's modern bartenders. We asked four of them to share their favorite Barbary Coast–inspired recipes in time for New Year's. Here's what they came up with.