The Lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
March 28, 2017

The cozy interior of Two Sisters Bar and Books. Photo via Two Sisters.

Regulars at ~TWO SISTERS BAR AND BOOKS~ will be sorry to learn the duo is moving on from their little San Francisco library/bar nest. They opened in 2011 and have become quite the hideout for the neighborhood. It ends up they have been looking for a place in the East Bay for the next phase of their dreams, so sisters Mikha Diaz and Alana O’Neal will be working on their next venture, ~LES ARCEAUX~. It will be a café and wine bar right on Shattuck Avenue, just north of the Downtown Berkeley BART station. They hope to be open by fall of this year and will continue their Monday Night Mixology classes there.

Diaz will also be planning a cocktail bar in the East Bay with Kathryn Kulczyk and Branden Cardelli, which they hope to have ready in 2018. Another update for next year as well: their bartender “Michael Cecconi is in the necessary permitting processes with the federal government to bring his line of bottled cocktails into your homes in 2018.” Cheers.

For now, the license is being transferred, and when it looks like they are about 30 days out, they will send a letter notifying their community and will post a note on their website. So go visit the sisters and their tight crew for a final Back 40 while you can. 579 Hayes St. at Laguna, 415-863-3655.


A look at the main bar from the upstairs mezzanine. Instagram photo via @tequilamockingbar.

Here are a couple of watering holes where you’ll be able to pull up a stool. First up, Dennis Leary (behind bars House of Shields, Natoma Cabana, Rx, and Cafe Terminus) is opening ~TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD~ in the former DaDa space in SoMa (which moved to Post Street). Considering Leary’s literary background, the pun is no surprise.

Look for straightforward cocktails and a good selection of tequila and mezcal, according to Eater. You can peep the agave-forward menu here. There will be 14 drafts! There are some brightly upholstered bar stools and an upstairs private booth, with eclectic pendant lights and an illuminated star behind the bar that you won’t miss. It opens Thursday March 30th, and hours will be Mon-Sat 2pm-2am. 86 2nd St. at Jessie, 415-797-9262.

Within a couple of months or so, ~THE RESIDENCE~ will be closing up, and new owners Justin Lew and Ian Scalzo (of the stylin’ Horsefeather on Divis) will be opening their bar, ~NOBLE SAVAGE~ (the name may change!), although there aren’t any details on the concept at this time. Hoodline reports that Residence co-owner Peter Paul Garcia is literally sailing off into the sunset (don’t call it a retirement!) and opening a sailing charter business in the Caribbean with his wife Erica. 718 14th St. at Church.

March 21, 2017

Entrance to Ruby Skye. Yelp photo by Andrew D.

After 17 years of EDM shows with saucer-eyed patrons, ~RUBY SKYE~ (or as I have called it, Boobie Sky) is closing in a month or so. Hoodline reports that Nate Valentine (Tipsy Pig, Harper & Rye, Padrecito, and Mamacita) is taking over the massive and historic space (the Native Sons of the Golden West Building). His partners are SnowBall Ventures founders Chad Donnelly and Scott Murphy (no, they aren’t coke dealers, they’re behind the SnowGlobe music festival in Lake Tahoe). They will be opening ~AUGUST HALL~ later this year, which will still be a nightclub, but “50 percent EDM/DJ nights, 45 percent rock bands and other live music, and a handful of comedy shows.” There will be an upstairs cocktail bar (the Green Room), and the downstairs Slide is going to be converted into a three-lane bowling alley (The Fifth Arrow), with food from Todd Shoberg, previously of Mill Valley’s Molina. 420 Mason St. at Geary.

After last week’s news that Speakeasy Ales & Lagers was closing its taproom and brewing operation, it ends up it will keep on brewing and selling beer for the next 45 days while a new owner is in line to buy the operation. So Big Daddy IPA is still here for you. [Via Hoodline.]

March 14, 2017

The patio at Anina in Hayes Valley. Photo via @aninabarsf.


Get ready for A Toast to Science: Spring Cocktails of the Farmers Market. Photo via CUESA.

Okay boozehounds, you have a new patio to hit in Hayes Valley, courtesy of the Brass Tacks crew. The bar ~ANINA~ has opened in the former Flipper’s space, and it’s all about a colorful, tropical, cheerful, airy look, with just cocktails (no food). And what a perfect week to be open. See if you can cut out of work and stake out a spot at one of their beer garden tables. Hours: Mon-Fri 2pm-2am, Sat-Sun 12pm-2am. 482 Hayes St. at Octavia.

Mark your calendar for the next Ferry Building cocktail event: A Toast to Science: Spring Cocktails of the Farmers Market, on Wednesday April 19th and in celebration of Earth Day and the March for Science. There will be spring cocktails and bites from 20-plus Bay Area bartenders and chefs, thanks to CUESA, the United States Bartenders’ Guild, and the Exploratorium. These events are always a blast, with unlimited cocktail tastes from top-notch bartenders, three full-sized drinks, and hors d’oeuvres. 5:30pm-8pm. Tickets: early bird $55; general admission $60; last minute $65. Ferry Building Grand Hall, 1 Ferry Building.

Also at the Ferry Building, we received word that ~FORT POINT~ has expanded, taking over the Marla Bakery space that was adjacent to the Fort Point kiosk. There are now an additional 30 seats, where you can enjoy brewery-fresh beer delivered daily from Crissy Field, as well as locally sourced hot dogs and pretzels from Acme Bread, Golden Gate Meat Company, and Firebrand Artisan Breads. Hours are Mon-Fri 11am-8pm, Sat 10am-8pm, and Sun 11am-6pm.

And some unexpected news was that local brewery ~SPEAKEASY ALES & LAGERS~ has ceased operations—the brewery and taproom are now closed, and what’s left of their beers on shelves is all that remains. We’ll have to see if another entity with some capital to spare takes over the facility or launches their own brand in the space. [Via Hoodline.]

March 7, 2017

The brother and sister in front of the soon-to-open Cultivar. Photo via Cultivar.

The Marina will be getting a wine bar this spring featuring small-production and coveted Napa Valley wines—with some European selections as well—called ~CULTIVAR~. Siblings Jody Harris and Gingy Harris Gable are SF natives. Their family started Caspar Estate in Napa, and Jody created Cultivar Wine. There will be 65 producers on the list, including Azur, Matthiasson, Relic, and Failla, along with Cultivar’s estate wines, which can be enjoyed on tap. Also on offer: wine by the bottle or keg for sale (Cultivar’s cabernet sauvignon, sauvignon blanc, merlot, or rosé), plus their estate-brewed beer.

There will be seasonal small plates, with a focus on vegetables and products from Caspar Estate’s one-acre certified organic garden—chef Kyle Young also oversees the garden. The 36-seat space is being designed by Sutro Architects and will feature a brass-top bar, walnut tabletops, and chocolate leather seating; it will double as a private event space for industry events. There are also temperature-controlled wine lockers for Caspar Estate and Cultivar wine club members. Expect a mid-March opening. 2379 Chestnut St. at Divisadero, 415-962-4200.

Tickets are now on sale for Cider Summit SF, returning to San Francisco on April 22nd. This will be the fourth year of the region’s largest cider festival, with top cidermakers and nearly 200 ciders from around the world. There will also be cider cocktails and apple spirits and food selections from vendors (at additional cost), including Whole Foods Market Truck and Slow Hand BBQ. Tickets: $35, and $45 for VIP tickets. Beginning April 1st, general admission tickets will be $40 in advance and $45 at the door, cash only, and VIP tickets will be $50. Civil War Parade Ground, adjacent to the Main Post, Presidio. 1pm-5pm.

Wednesday March 8th is a brandy party, Copper & Kings: Live at ~BAR AGRICOLE~ on their patio. If it sounds like a rock show, it’s because these distillers from Louisville use sonic aging, playing rock and roll to their barrels while they age. There will be unlimited food and drink, $50. Tickets. 6pm-9pm.

I was driving by ~LONDON MARKET~ on Divisadero Friday evening and noticed something very different—lots and lots of bottles. Ends up it’s now ~CORBEAUX’S LONDON MARKET~, a wine and spirits shop from Kyle Nadeau, who reportedly worked at D&M Liquors on Fillmore for nearly a decade, and his partner, Evan Krow. They’ll also be adding a deli in the back with cheese, charcuterie, and caviar. [Via The New Fillmore.] 2901 Sacramento St. at Divisadero.

February 28, 2017

The Liberal. Photo: ©


Nick Rossi and his Moderne Men. Photo: ©

Last week, I had such a swell evening at ~STOOKEY’S CLUB MODERNE~ that I wanted to be sure you have this swank little spot on your cocktail radar. Every last Thursday of the month, they have Nick Rossi and his Moderne Men come in, and there’s nothing quite like listening to some acoustic jazz from the early swing era while looking at couples in their vintage finery who occasionally get up from their barstools and do a little fox-trot, Charleston, or other fancy footwork. They start at 8pm and play until 10:30pm, and I got to take in three sets. Mark you calendar for March 30th for the next one (or just sign up for the Stookey’s newsletter for a reminder—link is on their homepage).

Meanwhile, behind the stick, you can’t miss Solario, with his white jacket and dapper and waxed curled mustache, who is doing such a bang-up job with the cocktails, like making his own grenadine for the Clover Club. An updated spring menu is launching this week, with more than 20 cocktails to choose from.

This bourbon lover was smitten with the Liberal, with Old Grand-Dad 114 proof (whooooo), with Carpano Antica, Bigallet China-China, Regan’s orange bitters, served up with a cherry—this one will be taking over my Boulevardier as my new favorite. You can finish the night with the bullshot, a substantive and savory drink with gin, beef broth (!), and fresh lemon, with notes of celery from celery salt and celery bitters, with a little zip of Tapatio and Worcestershire sauce—it soundly gives the Bloody Mary a run for its money.

If you want to hop into a little portal to 1930s San Francisco and forget about self-driving cars running red lights and the Cheeto and other modern-day nightmares, here’s your spot. Although in a funny twist, the bar actually accepts Bitcoin, the first to do so. From Streamline Moderne to modern, here’s to thinking ahead while saluting the past. Cheers. Closed Sundays. 895 Bush St. at Taylor, 415-771-9695.


Celebrate Girl Scout Cookie Cocktail Week at The Alembic. Photo courtesy of The Alembic.

It’s Girl Scout Cookie season, and a couple of local places are getting into the Thin Mint spirit of things. First up, this week is ~THE ALEMBIC~’s 6th annual Girl Scout Cookie Cocktail Week, happening through Sunday March 5th! Head Barman Jacob Racusin has created four limited-time Girl Scout Cookie-inspired cocktails, which will be paired with two of the childhood classic cookies for $15. Also, on Wednesday March 1st, 10 percent of proceeds from the Girl Scout Cookie cocktails go to UP Academy.

Featured cocktails include: Apia-Colada (white rum, crème de cacao, coconut cream, and lime), paired with Samoas; The Cookie Monster (Eagle Rare bourbon, Amaro di Angostura, graham cracker, High Water Campfire Stout, and toasted marshmallow), paired with S’mores cookies; Ei Thai Iced Tea (house Thai iced tea and reposado tequila), paired with Tagalong cookies; and The Zinger (Redbreast 12 Year Irish Whiskey, St. George Bruto Americano, Red Zinger, peppermint tea, and mint), paired with Thin Mints.

Since 2013, Woods Beer Co. has brewed their homage beer series inspired by the classic cookies, which will be released on Friday March 10th. The five beers include Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout, Coconut Caramel Dubbel, Shortbread Golden Ale, Peanut Butter Cream Ale, and Chocolate Peppermint Porter. Starting Friday March 10th, swing by Woods Polk Station, Woods Bar & Brewery, and the newest Woods brewpub, Outbound, and order a beer, which comes with a cookie pairing, or there’s a Cadette Kit featuring all five beers online.

Okay, cookie monster, put down those Samoas and let’s pick up a wineglass instead. On Monday March 13th, anyone who is curious about New Zealand wines will want to head to a tasting held in conjunction with New Zealand Winegrowers and Farallon. The walk-around tasting includes 40 producers, including Akarua, Astrolabe, Babich, Brancott Estate, Carrick, Cloudy Bay, Craggy Range, Crown Range, Forrest, Giesen, Greywacke, Hillersden, Huia, Loveblock, Mission Estate, Mt. Beautiful, Nautilus, Palliser, Peregrine, Rockburn, Sacred Hill, Saint Clair, Seifried, Sophora, Spy Valley, Staete Landt, Tohu, Villa Maria, Vinultra, Whitehaven, and Wither Hills. There will also be fancy snacks by Farallon Restaurant. 6pm-8pm. $50 per person, available here. Gallery 308, Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture.

February 21, 2017

A peek into the new lobby of the Tilden Hotel. (Images of The Douglas Room are forthcoming.) Photo via Facebook.

The tradition of Mo Hodges and Brian Felley (Benjamin Cooper, Big) opening bars in old hotels runs deep, and here’s their third project to follow that path: ~THE DOUGLAS ROOM~. It’s opening in the former Fish & Farm/Mark Twain Hotel in Union Square, which has been transformed/”reboutiqued” into the chic and stylish Tilden Hotel. There are 45 seats total, including the bar, and it has a spiffy look. They are planning to open by the end of the week.

The duo are working with two ex-Rx bartenders, Michael Carlisi and Keith Bracewell, who will be the managing staff. While the craft cocktails at Benjamin Cooper are known for changing up a fair amount, the ones at The Douglas Room will be holding steady. You can take a look at the preview menu of original cocktails here. They’re as clever as always, like the Tele Novela (Partida tequila, celery, strawberry, Chareau, aquavit, kümmel, verjus, lemon) and the Tennessee Pillow (Jack Daniels No. 7, Lo-Fi sweet vermouth, lemon, egg white, dill). Wine, beer, sherry, and more will also be available.

There’s not only a bar but a full kitchen as well, so Hodges and Felley are working with chefs Glen Schwartz (398 Brasserie) and Tim Malloy (who is back from Seattle, previously at Local’s Corner) on a cheeky menu that pays homage to some East Coast favorites, including an Italian hoagie (ham, capicola, mortadella, Genoa salami, lettuce, tomato, onion, mayonnaise) on an Amoroso roll that’s flown in from Phildelphia; ditto the Philly cheesesteak Whiz Wit, with rib-eye, caramelized onions, and Cheese Whiz on an Amoroso roll.

You’ll find some Cali seasonality in the Dougie Fresh Salad, and the tagliatelle with green garlic, fava greens and beans, and a farm egg. Even the bar snacks are a touch upscale (and truly reflect the bar provenance), with sweetbread nuggets made with Ancho Reyes BBQ sauce (that sounds hella genius) and Hudson Valley duck wings with Cointreau and Calabrian chile. Burger, check. Baked oysters too. You can take a peek at a preview of the food menu here.

Good news: the kitchen will be open until 1am nightly, with bar hours from 5pm-2am. Hours will eventually be expanded to include lunch and weekend brunch as well. 345 Taylor St. at O’Farrell.

February 14, 2017

The iconic Old Ship Saloon sign. Yelp photo by Rachel H.

We keep hearing so many stories of our treasured old-school SF dives being bought, sold, gutted, razed, made over, and basically having any scrap of their former soul sucked out of them. But fortunately, SF’s oldest bar, the ~OLD SHIP SALOON~, which is being sold by longtime owner Bill Duffy, will end up in good hands.

When I saw the ABC license transfer hit the wires with Eric Passetti’s name on it, I was like, huh, this is interesting. (Passetti is a partner with Dennis Leary in local businesses like Natoma Cabana, Terminus, Rx.) I received a call back from Erik Hopfinger, who is the consulting chef for the new iteration of the Old Ship and will potentially be joining partners Marc Bruschera and Tod Alsman (R Bar, Wreck Room). (You can read more on how Duffy decided to pass the torch here.)

He mentioned that once the transfer goes through in 30-45 days, they will be closing for a deep clean and to reconfigure the bar, but it’s more like “putting new rims” on a car, Hopfinger stated. They also plan to add some outside tables and take advantage of the sunlight they get down there.

As for the menu, it’s going to maintain a tavern feeling, with a burger, of course, and salads and some healthy eats as well. Hopfinger said he’d like to offer a staff meal for people in the industry (shot, beer, late-night dinner), and they really want to be a local staff bar for folks who work nearby, serving until 1am. Local workers in the area will be able to pick up a brown bag lunch, with a sandwich, soup, and cookie combo, or stick around for a fast-casual lunch. Hopfinger is also researching old-school cookbooks so they can pay homage to the bar’s history, which dates back to 1851. He said to expect some pickled items on the menu. We can also get excited to try some of Alsman’s charcuterie and bacon; it ends up he is quite the aficionado.

Stand by for future updates in about a month or so. I’ll be able to share more about the bar program then as well. 298 Pacific Ave. at Battery, 415-788-2222.


The amber onyx bar at Rusted Mule. Photo via Facebook.

Over in Polk Gulch, the fomer Sudachi is now the ~RUSTED MULE~, a project from Kristian Cosentino (Dirty Water), Richard Vila (Poquito), Christina Mae Henderson, and Chris Mansury. It’s a huge space, with room for 140 people, and has three lounges plus a mezzanine for private groups. Hoodline reports it has a “soft steampunk” look, with original brick walls and pieces from local artists. The amber onyx bar is where you’ll find “fun and throwback drinks,” mules on tap (made with lime and ginger beer), and plenty of wine and beer. Chef Glen Schwartz (Dirty Water) is behind the pub-style menu, with fun snacks to start (carrot corn dogs, why not?) and will be ramping up in the next couple of weeks. 5pm-2am daily. 1217 Sutter St. at Polk.