Two Sister’s Bar and Books
The best cocktail spot in Hayes Valley also just so happens to serve up incredibly delicious bar bites.
579 Hayes St. San Francisco, CA 94102
Perfect for whenever you need a quiet bar and a great cocktail. It’s an ideal date night spot, works really well for brunch as well, and is excellent for solo dining/drinking too.
Their happy hour is also an excellent deal. Don’t miss out on that extra special value Tuesday through Friday from 4 to 6 pm and Saturday or Sunday from 1 to 4 pm where you can snag $3 draft beers, $5 house wines, a $5 happy hour cocktails, or a $5 happy hour snack.
How It Was:
Two Sister’s Bar & Book definitely is my kind of brunch spot. That’s because it is also my kind of bar. There’s never a ridiculous line to get in during prime brunching time and it’s really darn delicious. This quiet Hayes Valley gem is pretty much always what I’m in the mood for when I find myself in the neighborhood — any time of day. The cocktails are outstanding, as is the concise menu, and the atmosphere is just cozy and adulty enough to be comfortable without feeling stuffy or boring.
What We Drank:
During happy hour, Two Sisters always has one cocktail on special that you can have for a mere $5. On this particular day, they were offering something called a Peachy Keen, which the bartender described as a Gin Sour with peach shrub. The shrub added an aggressive vinegary bite to the drink that I absolutely loved. This was an excellently, bold daytime drink and a great deal for only $5.
This house wine had a full berry fruit flavor. It was almost raspberry flavored at first, but with plenty of dry, spicy notes and complexity. For $5, this stout pour was a great deal during happy hour.
Offered for $5 as one of the rotating happy hour cocktail specials. It was made with bourbon, lemon, lime, and grenadine. The bartender described it as “a boozy watermelon jolly rancher”, which I thought was pretty spot on. I was pleasantly surprised by how well the sweet and the tart balanced in this drink.
This is a menu mainstay. It was a wonderfully strong whiskey drink. Quite bold, just a touch sweet and just a touch bitter. For a whiskey drinker like myself, it really does the trick and is a great deal at $10.
After telling the bar staff my usual go-tos (spirit forward, often scotch, whiskey, mezcal, or gin-based), one bartender suggested an off-menu option. She, like me, hates vodka, so this rendition of a classic vesper replaces vodka with gin leaving a bright, crisp, citrusy drink with plenty of satisfyingly complex body. I loved it.
This beautifully orange-hued drink was at first quite tart and citrusy — initially orangey from the twisted peel, but primarily tasted of lemon and lime. Quickly, it transitioned and mellowed into a super-smooth and extremely well-balanced concoction.
Green tea infused Singani is not the sort of ingredient you see in a lot of places, but believe me, this Bolivian liquor is going to be the next IT spirit. Its flavor lies somewhere in the gin/grappa territory and it works wonderfully in this citrus-centric preparation. This drink was very bright and refreshing. It would be especially perfect on a warm summer day.
What We Ate:
These are quite salty, crisp, and skinny potato chips. I think they might even make the chips in-house. They’re a great bar snack to pair with your well-made cocktails and frequently during their long, daytime happy hour you can get an order for only $5. The chips are quite tasty alone, but I find the provided dipping sauce totally irresistible. It reminds me of the dips I would make growing up — mixing a powdered Lipton’s French Onion soup packet with sour cream. It’s simple and wonderful.
So good! Unfortunately, they were out of capers on the day I ordered them, but they still had a full-flavored truffle overtone that paired perfectly with the cold egg white vessel a creamy yolk filling. I also found it interesting that they cut them 90 degrees off from the way you usually see them served.
French Onion Soup
This soup was perfect on a gray SF day. Super-comforting with a strongly beefy broth that came loaded with melty, stringy cheese, sweet rich caramelized onions, and submerged slices of bread. It came with a nice, little side salad too to round out the intense richness.
Let’s be honest, the drumstick is definitely everyone’s favorite chicken piece, so why not just cut to the chase, skip the other cuts, and eat only drumsticks. Well, that’s exactly what the kitchen at Two Sisters does and this bartender-recommended dish certainly lived up to his excitement.
The local Marin Farms dark meat chicken was moist, flavorful, and very nicely grilled leaving dark, charred spots speckling each piece’s exterior. It was braised and coated in a mustard sauce and they even did me the solid by trimming the skinny part of the stick down to the bone to leave a nice grip point.
But, really it was that spice-loaded creamy dipping sauce that really sold me on the dish. It was explosively flavorful, so good that once I had polished off the meat, I combined it with the platter’s garlic slaw for an additional opportunity to consume the stuff. Just killer.
These are really popular. Nearly every time I’ve been, I’ve seen someone order them. And they’re quite good. The patties come piping hot and cooked all the way through. You can taste the clean salmon flavor which is accented nicely by both the herby dill flavor and creamy green garlic aioli. The portion may look small, but its actually quite filling with the awesomely chewy bread and included side of salty potato chips helping to substantiate the dish.
Tangerine Pulled Pork
Man. This was crazy good. It came served as a nicely plated trio of pulled pork-topped rice and plantain cakes — crispy, thick, fritters texturally somewhere between arancini and a crab cake. The crisp radish slaw and cooling lime crema were a perfect pairing with this hearty, meaty dish. These Latin American inspired flavors were bold and intense, not exactly what you’d expect from a low-lit cocktail bar such as this, but this dish was absolutely incredible nonetheless.