Five Best Cocktails In San Francisco 2012

A guide to the year's best cocktails

As we scoured the Bay Area's bars in search of Tasting Table's best cocktails of 2012, one fact became clear to us: Our bartenders are driving that awful word "mixologist" into the ground.

Bartending involves far more than stirring and shaking, after all. Service is still key. So is time spent in the kitchen: Making tinctures, syrups and bitters are just part of the bartender's toolkit. And the city's best bartenders can layer on complex flavors with the lightest of touches.

Tasting Table's five favorite cocktails of 2012 replace Malibu with housemade coconut marmalade, for instance, and work ginger's bite and the suave bitterness of Vergano Americano into a quaffable, balanced beverage.

Better still, we've coaxed recipes out of the cocktails' inventors. Make the drinks at home or try them in their place of origin.

Once you've worked your way through these five drinks, move on to making the best cocktails from Chicago, New York, D.C., Los Angeles, Miami and all points between.

That's enough drinking to keep you occupied until the New Year's resolutions kick in.