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5929 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco

Few bars go beyond the business of serving drinks to actually contribute to movements. When Julio Bermejo took over the bar at his parents’ Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant, he swiftly replaced the mixto tequila with 100% agave. Fast-forward 30 years and that seems a prophetic move, but through his bar and tequila evangelism, Bermejo was one of the key architects of changing tequila’s fortunes globally.

Tommy’s collection of quality-end tequilas has snowballed since those early days, now passing 400 bottles – one of the biggest collections in the world. Thus, taking a place at the bar at Tommy’s for an informal tutored tasting has become something of a bar-industry pilgrimage. That and the chance to try the original Tommy’s Margarita, Bermejo’s agave-syrup twist on the Margarita, which has become a global classic. A third reason to visit is this bar’s sense of hospitality, where a customer arrives and leaves as a friend.

Image: Dr. Kern McNutt