Daytime Drinking

A guide to the best midday cocktail spots

A three-martini lunch is impressive for quantity–but not creativity.

Even though many of the city's best destinations for superb cocktails are only open at night, if you're strategic, you can drink well at noon. Here, a road map to a tension-free (and unproductive) afternoon:

Rickhouse Thirsty Fi-Di workers hit this bar after the stock market closes. For a sturdy liquid lunch, try the Rye Maple Fizz ($9), made with Russell's Reserve rye, maple syrup, an egg white and a splash of soda. 246 Kearny St. (at Bush St.); 415-398-2827 or rickhousesf.com

The Slanted Door The upscale Vietnamese restaurant in the Ferry Building has always been the place to bring clients–or your parents–for a well-mixed cocktail with a waterfront view. Order the bold Vieux Carré ($10), a New Orleans classic made with Cognac, rye and two kinds of bitters. 1 Ferry Bldg. #3; 415-861-8032 or slanteddoor.com

Absinthe Hayes Valley's classic brasserie is open for lunch every day except Monday. Consider the daily drink specials on the chalkboard above the bar; if those don't appeal, choose the sprightly Galapagos ($9), made with pisco and lime leaf muddled in pepper syrup. 398 Hayes St. (at Gough St.); 415-551-1590 or absinthe.com

The Alembic This Haight restaurant (pictured) began serving lunch after the New Year, which means there's less of a wait for its one-of-a-kind cocktails. Try the Vasco da Gama ($10), made with Buffalo Trace bourbon, garam masala-spiced apple syrup and a touch of smoky Islay Scotch. 1725 Haight St. (at Cole St.); 415-666-0822 or alembicbar.com