Mission: fresh-air beer

Outdoor alcoholic outposts
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Listen up, troops: Spring is here and decent weather may be on the radar. It's time to escape from the barracks and attack life with a blitzkrieg of beer and BBQ. Below is a list of checkpoints that are reported to condone and encourage the outdoor consumption of alcohol.

Good luck, soldier. Now get out there and knock 'em back!

Big guns

ZEITGEIST

The HQ of patio bars — the grand pooh-bah, the big cheese. Hands down the biggest, baddest patio west of the bay. Although owing to the line of porta-potties, it's probably one of the stinkiest. This is your safe station, no matter what company you're signed up with. Zeitgeist's commissary will stock you up on burgers and fries, and its Bloody Marys will keep you flying.

199 Valencia, SF. (415) 255-7505, myspace.com/zeitgeistsf

EL RIO

Outer Mission hideaway El Rio is big enough for large outfits but romantic enough for a date while on leave. A portion of the yard is sheltered by a tent for rainy-day ops — and there's nothing to stop you from lighting up. Mmmm — gotta love the smell of cigarettes in the midafternoon.

3158 Mission, SF. (415) 282-3325 www.elriosf.com

PILSNER INN

Few cantinas can muster as many features as the Pilsner Inn. Twenty-four beers on tap, two pool leagues, and a lush, landscaped garden patio with two koi ponds should be enough to make anyone stand at attention. A strong contingent here flies the rainbow flag, but the Pilsner welcomes troops from all outfits to its relaxed environs.

225 Church, SF. (415) 621-7058, www.pilsnerinn.com

Smaller outposts

PAPA TOBY'S REVOLUTION CAFÉ

This little Mission spot will flash you back to life as a guerrilla fighter in Cuba or Guatemala. A beer and wine café with a secluded backwoods feel and a heated streetside patio, Papa Toby's Revolution Café offers a variety of troop entertainment, from free trade to tango lessons. With enough alcohol here, you may be able to brainwash your copilot into believing he or she is the reincarnation of Che Guevara.

3248 22nd St., SF. (415) 642-0474

FINNEGAN'S WAKE

An enclave of Cole Valley regulars is keeping Finnegan's Wake top secret. The back patio is a mini-Zeitgeist, equipped with a grill and picnic tables. Surrounded by apartments, this little retreat goes on lockdown after 21:00 hours, making this site good for daytime expeditions only.

937 Cole, SF. (415) 731-6119

GOLD CANE COCKTAIL LOUNGE

The patio of this Haight Street joint has a nicely elevated rear portion — high ground, easy to defend from marauding tourists and the like. And if you can't successfully pilot your hand-rolled smokable through the crowd, you've no business flying so high, soldier.

1569 Haight, SF. (415) 626-1112

MAD DOG IN THE FOG

Bright red and green paint often makes the Mad Dog in the Fog's vibrant little patio hard to handle without a pint or two. Local hostiles have managed to shut down maneuvers here after 22:00, so your best bet is to set up a happy-hour camp during the soccer off-season — around World Cup time, soccer insurgents outfitted in reversible jerseys and knee-high socks seize the position.

530 Haight, SF. (415) 626-7279

THE AXIS OF BURGERS

Taken together, Flippers restaurant and Marlena's bar in Hayes Valley can provide a prime afternoon drinking and lounging target. Flippers serves burgers, beer, and wine. Its patio is outfitted with a variety of flora: lilies, trees, and lawn. Right next door, with a full bar, Marlena's has a minimal cagelike smoking facility with just three benches gated off from the street.

Flippers Gourmet Burgers, 482 Hayes, SF. (415) 552-8880

Marlena's, 488 Hayes, SF.

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