Swabbie Brett and I were in San Francisco to run the US Half-Marathon, and a trip to Smuggler’s Cove was going to be our reward. But come the evening it was time to visit rum paradise, he was so tired he had to bow out. His overwhelming lethargy was due in no small part to his overnight flight from Nigeria where he had just completed a challenging photo expedition. As always, and joined by Swabbies Laura and Diana, the Trader was undeterred and pressed on while Swabbie Brett stayed in the hotel room to dream of hyenas and political unrest. It turns out that going to a bar with two classy ladies instead of Swabbie Brett is much more fun.
Smuggler’s Cove was opened in 2009 by Martin Cate and has been racking up awards like nobody’s business. They stock over 200 varieties of rum and their is approach is an impressive triple threat—Traditional drinks of the Caribbean islands, Classic libations of Prohibition-era Cuba, and Exotic cocktails from Legendary Tiki bars. Their drink menu has over 70 cocktails, all made with housemade ingredients and fresh squeezed juices.
The Cove is three skinny stories high, the main bar being on the middle floor. There’s a second bar on the bottom floor (a tricked-out basement of sorts), and the top floor is seating only (a tricked-out attic of sorts). With the crates, ropes, and rum barrels, it really does feel like you’re in the belly of a creaky wooden clipper ship en route to exotic ports.
The main bar on the second floor. I love all the lived-in items they’ve packed in, including the female figurehead in the flowing dress.
The stairway from the main bar to the third story crow’s nest.
L to R: the Hawaiian Sunset, Pupule, and Halekulani. All amazing. For our second round we had the Zombie, Chi Chi Pache, and Mai Tai. And guess what? All amazing. Another thing I love about Smuggler’s Cove is the rich design details, and their menu is no exception:
All in all, an amazing place with a sense of fun, a grasp of history, and a no-nonsense approach to their cocktails—which are literal works of art. I can’t wait to go back once I get that lazy-ass Swabbie Brett out of bed.