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Award-Winning San Francisco Tiki Bartender Dead At 55



Beloved San Francisco bartender Steven Liles, who was best known for his thirteen years of serving Tiki drinks at Smuggler’s Cove, passed away this week at the age of 55. No cause of death was released.

Having been a staple in the bartending industry in San Francisco, even before he was hired at Smuggler’s Cove, he had worked at some of the most prominent bars around the city, such as Crustacean, Boulevard, Presidio Social Club, and others.

Liles also was a music fan, attending both punk and jazz shows, and an avid reader, collecting hundreds of books on cocktails, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. (The Chronicle and SFGATE are both owned by Hearst but have separate newsrooms.) His favorite drink was a Plymouth gin martini with a twist.

SF Gate

Steven was born in Compton, California, in 1968. After moving to San Francisco in 1998, Liles began his career in bartending. After he moved to San Francisco, he made the transition from serving coffee to mixology.

Martin Cate, the individual who hired Liles to work at Smuggler’s Cove, commented on his relationship with Liles.

“When he reached out to me and said, ‘I’d like to come over to the Cove,’ I thought it was a bit of a coup at the time to get him,” 

“It turned into a very good and very wonderful long relationship with the two of us.”

Sf GAte

Steven was featured in Imbibe Magazine in 2017 as Bartender of the Year, which was an intimidating title for Liles. Cate stated that through all of his success, Liles remained true to himself, and his love for his job.

“He’d say, ‘I’m just a journeyman bartender. That’s all I’ve ever wanted to do,’” Cate said. “… In this industry where people tend to fly in and out or advance quickly, he just was very happy behind the stick. He loved guests and he loved service.”


Rest in peace!


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