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650 Gough Street, San Francisco, US
A TRIBUTE TO RUM as much as it is a tribute to itself, Smuggler’s Cove is fast becoming a global tiki reference point. It helps that it has tiki geography on its side - lying on the West Coast it surfs the same San Francisco waters that Trader Vic Bergeron famously chummed with his Hinky Dink’s in the 1930s - but it backs this up with a hell of a lot more.
The décor is not so much an homage to the tiki scene as an obsession with it. It’s as if a pirate who has spent his life on the high seas ended his travels, drank his weight in rum and expelled his entire being, from pieces of eight to his skull.
Rest assured, this is a compliment, because the place is an extraordinary treasure trove of trinkets with enough sea-faring knicks and knacks to scare a landlubber back to the mid-west.
But you won’t be distracted by the décor, because where the bar really delivers is in the drinks.
For the consumer it’s as mind-boggling as the décor, but bags more fun, with drinks full of strange ingredients, all promising an exceptional night of drinking. For the connoisseur the tributes to the tiki trade are easily recognised and, more importantly, the often complex concoctions are made with expert skill.