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Top 5 Bars for Book Lovers in San Francisco
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Top 5 Bars for Book Lovers in San Francisco

Picture of Ashley Overbeek
Updated: 16 December 2016
While on the surface an odd pairing, bars and books have come together on every corner of San Francisco. From a speakeasy using real books from the Prohibition era to line the walls, to a cocktail bar in SoMa with drinks named after protagonists in literary classics, to a wine bar in Japantown where you really can curl up with a good book on a lazy afternoon, we find the five bars that will truly compliment your literary side.
The Bar at Two Sisters Books and Bar | © Reading on the Road
The Bar at Two Sisters Books and Bar | © Reading on the Road

Nestled in the heart of Japantown, The Social Study is a cozy place to grab a wine and snuggle in with a book. Small and intimate with books lining the walls, The Social Study is a multifaceted wine bar, with a relaxed atmosphere during the day and a boisterous, dance-y vibe after 7:30pm on weekends. Try a wine and cheese plate during the day or stop by for a drink and a DJ set spinning 90’s beats after the sun sets.

The Social Study, 1795 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 (415) 292-7417

Inside Novela SF | © 2012-2015 Tom Coll Construction
Inside Novela SF | © 2012-2015 Tom Coll Construction

Dress to impress and come early to snag a table at this classy Financial District/SoMa establishment. This literary themed bar is decked out with backlit books covering the walls and a strong Great Gatsby brand of 1920’s opulence. The Gatsby theme carries forward to Novela’s menu—each cocktail is named after a protagonist from a classic novel, and the bar’s ‘Jay Gatsby’ – a mix of bourbon, calisaya, amaretto, and scotch – is one of their best sellers.

Novela, 662 Mission St, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 (415) 896-6500

The Library Bar inside Hotel Rex | © JONATHANGALES.co.uk
The Library Bar inside Hotel Rex | © Jonathan Gales

The aptly named Library Bar inside Hotel Rex serves as the perfect backdrop for the Books and Booze Happy Hour Book Swap. Founded in 2012, the Book Swap meets once or twice a month to exchange books over drinks. Their meet up dates are listed on their website. Simply show up with a book or two at 7:45 and add it to the communal pile. Participants in the book swap are then each given a number at random that will determine when he or she can come up and grab a book from the pile.

Library Bar Inside Hotel Rex, 562 Sutter St, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 (415) 433-4434

Conceptualized during a train ride through Russia and subsequent voyages to coffeeshops, bars, and bookstores throughout the world, Two Sisters Bar and Books is a pipe dream turned reality for the eponymous two sisters who founded it. This quaint, Victorian-style Hayes Valley staple has some of the best Old Fashioneds in the city, though stop at the ATM before for this cash only bar. The venue also boasts an in-house book club on the last Wednesday of every month, from 6-8pm, even featuring a $5 thematically appropriate cocktail.

Two Sisters Bar and Books, 579 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 (415) 863-3655

The Wilson and Wilson Bar Room inside Bourbon and Branch | © Flicker / Jennifer Morrow
The Wilson and Wilson Bar Room inside Bourbon and Branch | © Jennifer Morrow/Flickercommons

Bourbon and Branch

In true speakeasy fashion, patrons at Bourbon and Branch are required to knock on the bar’s unmarked wooden door and provide the secret password (it’s ‘books’). After reciting the correct code, Bourbon and Branch ‘bootleggers‘ whisk customers to the main Library Bar, lined from floor to ceiling with books from the darkly glamorous Prohibition era. Sticking with the theme of covert debauchery, the bar serves only alcohol and has a no cellphone policy.

Bourbon and Branch, 501 Jones St, San Francisco, CA, USA, +1 (415) 346-1735