The Lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
March 20, 2018

The handcrafted bar at Howells. Photos courtesy of Howells.


Looking down on the bar from the mezzanine.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a sneak peek of ~HOWELLS~ wine bar, which just opened in the former Mezes in the Marina. You’ll recognize Nate Welch behind the bar; he managed the California Wine Merchant for a decade and has now partnered with some other folks on this project (Sameet Mehta and Adam Weiner). There’s a spacious and beautiful bar (25 feet!), built by Welch’s father-in-law, Don McCall. It’s rustic and so handcrafted, made of walnut and roof metal from a old barn that suffered in the Butte Fire of 2015, with hickory frames, wood dowels, and a resin top. (McCall is quite the craftsman—he has been working on the bar since September!) The space has bright blue vinyl bar chairs with tufted backs, and there are skylights, Deco-style brass sconces, an unusual chandelier made of sticks, and a pressed tin ceiling that is actually made of acoustic tiles.

It’s a handsome space, and there’s also a mezzanine with more seating and a private cellar room you can rent for tastings of high-end and rare wines, with room for six to eight people. There are also plans to open the back patio soon for brunch.

The main wine list has 20 by the glass, featuring a variety of Californian, old-world, and Southern Hemisphere wines. There’s quite a cellar list of high-end wines too.

Chef Sarah Galloway (formerly Spruce, Trestle, Stones Throw, Mason Pacific) is offering a Cali comfort menu that spans cheese and charcuterie options, plus sandwiches, salads, and some Midwestern dishes (with a touch of Cali) like stuffed peppers and beef stroganoff. Dishes will range around $8-$16, but you can also splurge on some caviar from The Caviar Co.

While the block doesn’t seem to be wanting for wine options, they have created a space and vibe that is a bit different than the others, and they want guests to come by for dinner, or a glass before or after. Opening hours will be daily 4pm-12am and until 2am Thu-Sat. 2373 Chestnut St. at Divisadero, 415-814-2150.


The Deco vibes of the Rumpus Room on 6th Street. Yelp photo via business owner.


Surf’s up! The new Mavericks menu at Lord George is all about spring break. Photo courtesy of Lord George.

With so many high-concept bars opening these days, it makes me happy to see a classic, Deco-inspired bar that has the same kind of feels as Dalva open up, and it has a cheeky name to boot. Meet ~THE RUMPUS ROOM~, newly open in SoMa in the former Matador/Showdown (and as I fondly but blurrily remember, The Arrow Bar), and I’m sure some old-timers could tell us many more names since the location has continuously operated as a bar since 1935. It has some Deco decor, and there’s even a Photo-matica photo booth.

Hoodline reports the owner is longtime bartender Roxzanna De Marco (Amnesia, Southern Pacific Brewing), and she obviously knows what the people want: $5 well drinks (and she loves tequila, so it’s a good one), with most draft beers at $6 and a draft Budweiser at $3. There’s a cocktail menu, a Moscow Mule on tap, and happy hour runs from 12pm-5pm, when most drinks are $1 cheaper. Look for some DJ nights too. Open 12pm-2am. 10 6th St. at Market, 415-780-5651.

It’s about that time, when ~LORD GEORGE~ launches their next guest Mavericks menu—this time it’s Brian Means (previously bar director for Michael Mina and currently at PCH), who has designed a spring break-themed cocktail menu (complete with handwritten postcards!) filled with tropical flavors. Peep the menu here, it runs until July 1st (and the bar donates 50 cents of every Mavericks cocktail sold to the guest bartender’s charity of choice). 555 2nd St. at Brannan, 415-660-7633.

The Bay Area Anti-Temperance Society and the California Cocktail Club—plus The Speakeasy—are hosting an event on Thursday March 22nd to celebrate the 85th anniversary of the end of Prohibition, and you’ll be on the U.S.S. Potomac in Oakland! Of course, there will be cocktails, plus music and tours. More details and tickets here.

February 6, 2018

The bar at the new Del Mar in the Marina. Photo: Del Mar.


The communal table at Del Mar. Photo: Del Mar.


The new Almanac Barrel House and Taproom in Alameda. Photo courtesy of Almanac.

Over in the Marina, the former HiFi Lounge has been reconcepted and redesigned into ~DEL MAR~, a tropical oasis. Partners Max Young (Mr. Smith’s, The Bamboo Hut, McNally’s Irish Pub, and The Reel Fish Shop and Grill) and Michael Wilbert (Mr. Smith’s) spent four months redesigning the space, which now includes hand-built swings and swing chairs (making it hard to tell how tipsy you really are), custom jungle print wallpaper, a spray-painted surf mural by local artist Camer1, and a bar and back bar refaced with shou sugi ban cypress from Delta Millworks in Austin, Texas (each piece of wood was specifically milled, burned, and then painted by hand). Of course there’s a tropical-inspired cocktail menu to match, including a 12-year aged rum mai tai and a Venezuelan rum old-fashioned, plus bowls for sharing and a daily slushie. Happy hour starts tomorrow (February 7th), running 5pm-8pm, plus DJs and dancing on the weekends. Sunday afternoons will be coming in the spring. 2125 Lombard St. at Fillmore.

A name change in the local spirits world: with the sale of Anchor Brewing to Sapporo Holdings Limited, Anchor Distilling Co. is now Hotaling & Co. (the company relinquished the rights to the Anchor trademark). For those of you who know your SF history, the Hotaling name should be familiar: A.P. Hotaling, who came to San Francisco during the Gold Rush, was the largest liquor wholesaler in the West, and amazingly his whiskey warehouse didn’t burn down in the 1906 quake and fire—there is both a rhyme and a special Old Potrero release named Hotaling’s in honor of the booze miracle. You can read more (and learn the rhyme) in the press release here. Dennis Carr remains the company’s president and CEO, and Hotaling & Co. will also remain under the ownership of London’s Berry Bros. & Rudd and Tony Foglio.

Big news in beer land: Jesse Friedman and Damian Fagan of Almanac Beer Co. just opened their brand-new 30,000-square-foot production brewery, barrel house, taproom, and HQ in Alameda. The Almanac Barrel House and Taproom will serve barrel-aged and fresh beers on-site (where they are brewed). There’s an indoor beer hall and an outdoor beer garden overlooking San Francisco Bay. Food is currently not available, but they will have food trucks most days, and outside food and deliveries are welcome. Kids are also welcome (supervised!) and so are dogs (on the outdoor patio only). Open Wed-Sat 12pm-8pm and Sun 12pm-6pm. 651B W Tower Ave. at Pan Am Way, Alameda Island.

(Also worth noting: last week, I featured Admiral Maltings and The Rake, which are just next door—and actually brought Almanac on board to share the space—so you can make it a double play.)