Open Every Day
5:00PM-1:15AM

650 Gough Street
(at McAllister)
San Francisco, CA

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I book out Smuggler’s Cove for a private party?
Smuggler’s Cove is available for private events on either our mezzanine (The Hut, 12 to 20 people) or downstairs bar (The Boathouse, 30 to 45 people) Sunday through Wednesday nights. Events must start by 6pm and can go as long as you like. Fees are based on a per hour minimum sales requirement depending on the area reserved. If the sales minimum is met, then there is no room fee, otherwise the difference will be charged. All private events will also have a 20% gratuity added. Private events are welcome to bring in outside food. Unfortunately we cannot accomodate private events or any kind of bookings on Thursdays, Fridays or Saturdays. We are also unable to reserve or book individual tables. Often times, if you can bring your whole group at once when we open, you can simply take over an area and enjoy a semi-private space at no additional cost. Total buyouts can be made with a special arrangement. Please contact us at info@smugglerscovesf.com for availability and more information.
Why is there a doorman and a line? (Who do you think you are?)
The main reason for running a line on busy nights is that our rated occupancy is for just 49 people. While we know that lots of San Francisco bars pack in people, we’ve been in those bars and they are often uncomfortably crowded. Our goal is that once you make your way inside, you will have room to breathe, talk to and be able to hear your friends, and enjoy your cocktails. The doorman is also there for your security, as well as ours, and to help us maintain quiet outside because we want to be a good neighbor.

We also believe in a fair line. That means first come, first served. Period. If you show up an hour after your date or friends do, you will not be allowed in before the other people in line who have been waiting. We do head counts and let as many people in as we can, but once we are at capacity, someone must leave for someone else to go in. If you want to bring a group to Smuggler’s Cove, we suggest you keep your group fairly small, get to the bar early, and that you all show up at roughly the same time. Explain to folks joining you that if they come late, they might have to wait in line.
Why do the drinks take longer at Smuggler’s Cove than some of the other bars I go to?
We work to get drinks to you as fast as humanly possible, but we also do not want to compromise on quality. In many cases the historic and contemporary rum cocktails we serve, especially exotic (tropical) recipes, are complicated. These drinks have as many as 8-11 ingredients that must be finely balanced, which means measuring each ingredient (not just turning 8 bottles upside down and hoping for the best!). What we hear time and again is “These drinks are worth the wait!” We hope you’ll find that to be the case—that there is a flavor combination you’ve never had before, or you’ll find that drink that you just can’t get anywhere else. We want this to be a fun drinking adventure, not the same ol’ same old.
Why don’t you hire more bartenders? Why is there only one bartender per bar?
We would love to hire more bartenders, and to be able to get your drinks to you even more quickly. Our street level bar is simply too small to have more than one bartender physically working there. The downstairs bar, while certainly big enough for two bartenders to stand behind it, only has room for one bartending station (one sink, one ice well, etc.). We experimented with two bartenders downstairs several times, but what we found is that at the end of the night, the two downstairs bartenders had made the same number of drinks as having one bartender in the same space. Bartending is about ergonomics—having more bartenders working does not equal faster drinks if the space isn’t built for it.

We have listened to customer feedback about the wait for drinks, however, and on busy nights we now have two barbacks working. They can often pour beers, sipping rums, water, and close your tab, freeing up the bartenders to get drinks out faster.
Why is the music so quiet?
We are striving for a fun, easygoing, cocktail atmosphere, and music lends an important element to the space. As such, we have carefully chosen music to fit the mood, the era, and the cultures from which these drinks were created. However, we don’t want to blast you out of the room, or make you scream to be heard, and we also want to be considerate neighbors in our residential building. That means we have music on as background, but not front and center in the space.
I’m not into rum—do you have other kinds of drinks?
As much as we love rum, we know it isn’t for everyone, and offer a carefully chosen selection of other spirits for drinking neat or in a classic cocktail. If you still want the fun of an exotic cocktail, we devote an entire page of our cocktail menu to exotic cocktails made with gin, whiskey, tequila, and other spirits, and our bartenders can also make a tasty exotic cocktail without any alcohol at all. We also feature a custom-made beer called Smuggler’s Brew from San Francisco’s own Thirsty Bear Brewery, as well as other draft beer choices. We have a custom-made red wine from Judd’s Hill Winery in Napa, The Smuggler’s Jug, as well as a house white wine. We think we have something for just about everyone, so if you don’t see what you’re looking for, be sure to ask your bartender!
Does Smuggler’s Cove serve food?
Smuggler’s Cove does not have a kitchen or any kind of prep space. There are several fantastic places in our neighborhood to grab a bite before or after your trip to Smuggler’s Cove—if you want some ideas, ask your bartender or a manager and we’ll be happy to help.
Can I bring in outside food?
We strongly prefer that you do not bring in outside food. Unfortunately, the added trash and smell that are created is more than our little space can handle. There are several fantastic places in our neighborhood to grab a bite before or after your trip to Smuggler’s Cove—if you want some ideas, ask your bartender or a manager and we’ll be happy to help.
A group of 20 of us are planning to meet at Smuggler’s Cove—will that be a problem?
We are a small space with a capacity of 49 people. Depending on the night, it is very likely that everyone in your party will not be able to get in right away. On busy nights, we often have to run a line outside. If some of your group shows up an hour after others do, we can’t let them in before the other people in line who have been waiting. We do head counts and let as many people in as we can, but once we are at capacity, someone must leave for someone else to go in. If you want to bring a group to Smuggler’s Cove, we suggest you keep your group fairly small, get to the bar early, and that you try to show up at roughly the same time. Explain to folks joining you that if they come late, they might have to wait in line.