Haight Street crowds head out in droves to the Alembic (1725 Haight St., 415/666-0822, www.alembicbar.com , Mon.–Thurs. 5 p.m.–2 a.m., Fri.–Sun. noon–2 a.m.) for artisan cocktails laced with American spirits. On par with the whiskey and bourbon menu is the cuisine: Wash down truffle mac-and-cheese with a Sazerac.
The restored Beach Chalet Brewery (1000 Great Hwy., 415/386-8439, Sun.–Thurs. 9 a.m.–10 p.m., Fri.–Sat. until 11 p.m.) is now an attractive brewpub and restaurant. Directly across from Ocean Beach 
, you can sip a pale ale while watching the sunset. Check out the historic murals downstairs.
In the neighboring Sunset district, bars profligate along 9th and Irving, a quick jaunt from the park. The Blackthorne Tavern (834 Irving St., 415/564-6627, www.blackthornsf.com , Mon.–Thurs. 4 p.m.–2 a.m., Fri.–Sat 3 p.m.–midnight, Sun. 12:30 p.m.–2 a.m.) is an honest-to-goodness Irish tavern owned by genuine Irish immigrants. You can get a pint of Guinness here, play a game of pool or darts, and get to know a mostly local crowd. This neighborhood tavern has a small, funkily shaped bar and a big open seating area that invites folks in and makes them feel at home. Lots of evening activities find their way to the Blackthorne—you might stop in and find trivia night, a live football game, a karaoke setup, or a live band. Join in the fun with the usually manageable crowds to get the best laidback local-style experience.
Another Inner Sunset watering hole, the Mucky Duck (1315 9th Ave., 415/661-4340, www.muckyduckpub.com , daily 11 a.m.–2 a.m.) offers fun, beer, and a really silly name. This low-key bar, often described as a dive, serves Pabst Blue Ribbon and Guinness on tap. It also serves up decorative bras on the ceiling and a “boobie memory” game along the back wall (not kidding). A mixed, mainly local crowd includes kids in their twenties and folks in their forties.
In the infamous Haight , the club scene is actually an eclectic mix of everything from trendy to retro. Milk (1840 Haight St., 415/387-6455, www.milksf.com , nightly 7 p.m.–2 a.m., cover varies) counts itself among the trendy. It’s tiny. It’s often empty on weekdays and packed solid on weekends. The music ranges from reggae to hip hop to ’80s tunes depending on the night and the DJ. Don’t expect much of a tourist crowd here; Milk attracts more locals than out-of-towners, but if that’s what you’re looking for in your visit to the City, a night of Milk might be just what the doctor ordered.