The Lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
June 30, 2015

The Sea Star in Dogpatch. Yelp photo by Dan B.

Dogpatch bar ~THE SEA STAR~ has been sold to new owners. The bar, which was purchased by the Southern Pacific Brewing team in 2014, is now owned by Ryan Gilbert, Alicia Walton, and Tommy Shaw, who have worked at various places around town including Elixir, Bloodhound, Brass Tacks, Comstock Saloon, and Martuni’s. In addition to 12 rotating taps of beer and cider, there is a boilermaker menu, as well as approachable cocktails from Walton. The new owners will take over as of Thursday July 2nd, and then plan to do some light remodeling in the coming months. Oh, and the space is now pet-friendly. Woof. Hours are daily 4pm-2am, with happy hours from 4pm-7pm. 2289 3rd St. at 20th St., 510-552-5330.


Clock Bar. Photo from Facebook.

Explore the wines of Sicily’s Mount Etna at ~WILLIAM CROSS WINE MERCHANTS~ on Wednesday July 1st from 6pm to 9pm. You’ll try six wines from the volcanic region, from producers like Cottanera, Tenuta delle Terre Nere, Planeta, and Graci. The flight is $15 for all six tastes.

Want to explore food and beer pairings? Check out a European-inspired pairing with master cicerone Rich Higgins and chef Matt Sieger, both of the upcoming Bon Marchè. The tasting takes place on Saturday July 11th in ~THE HALL~, from 4pm to 6pm. You’ll learn about the basic tenets of beer tasting, classic styles of European beers, and how to pair beer with food. Check out the beers and the menu right here. Tickets are $48 per person and include five beer tastes and food pairings. 1028 Market St. at Golden Gate, 415-231-6267.

Michael Mina’s ~CLOCK BAR~ at the Westin St. Francis is launching a new bar menu from lead bartender Abby Martinie. From now on, the bar’s menu will change every season, with eight different cocktails, eight different wines, and six beers, all inspired by a theme (even the glassware will change). To kick the series off, the theme is San Francisco 1904, the year the St. Francis opened. This is the era when egg whites and bitters became common, and of course was a time of great prosperity for San Francisco—what goes around, comes around? Check out the drink list right here. 335 Powell St. at Geary, 415-397-3003.

June 23, 2015

Painting and testing piña coladas at Tsk Tsk. Photo via Facebook.

While we wait for ~HORSEFEATHER~ to open in the former Ziryab this fall, owners Justin Lew (creative director and director of operations for Future Bars Co.) and Ian Scalzo (beverage director of Future Bars Co.) have decided to open a temporary pop-up in its place called Tsk/Tsk (not unlike Mr. Lew’s Win Win Bar and Grand Sazerac Emporium, the temporary Tenderloin bar between the transition from Club 441 to Tradition). Hoodline originally spoke with the duo, who want to offer up a casual/lowbrow interim spot to hang out until they get approval and permits from the city on upcoming changes to the space.

And now some additional details have been released: Tsk/Tsk will open on Monday June 29th (UPDATE: NOW OPENING ON MONDAY JULY 6TH!), and the menu will feature some fun adult beverage options, from the Electric Margarita to a banana orgeat piña colada or sweet tea mint julep from the slushie machine (we can pretend it’s hot out, we’re good at that). There will also be boilermakers, beers, and more.

Rounding out the offerings will be some bar vittles that look like The Dude invented them in a dream, including a burger (or cheeseburger) on King’s Hawaiian bread with grilled pineapple, pickled jalapeño, and teriyaki sauce; waffle fries with smoked nacho dust (ground-up nacho-flavored Doritos with chipotle powder); and wings (buffalo, Korean/Gangnam, and Chinese salt-and-pepper style). Hours will be nightly 6pm-2am; some earlier, end-of-week happy hours may kick in soon. 528 Divisadero St. at Fell.

After Mission dive bar The Attic closed last year, it was taken over by new owner Caroline Brown. Uptown Almanac now reports that it has reopened as the blandly named ~24TH STREET BAR~. The new space is complete with Mason jars, exposed Edison bulbs, reclaimed wood, and uncomfortable metal stools. Sigh. At least the drink prices sound really approachable. 3336 24th St. at Osage, 415-282-2440.


Mezcal ready for tasting at Bartlett Hall. Photo from Facebook.

Union Square’s ~BARTLETT HALL~ is getting ready for a spiritous good time with their Mezcal y Tradición tasting on Sunday June 28th. From 2pm until 6pm there will be 20 different mezcals to taste and learn about, from Wahaka’s well-known, award-winning selections to smaller producers like Mezcal Vago. There will also be plenty of bites to keep you going, from places like Colibri, Mosto, and Uno Dos Tacos. 242 O’Farrell St. at Cyril Magnin, 415-433-4332.


The patio at Tiburon Wines, with a view of the wine wall inside. Photo from Facebook.

Anyone who knows Dr. Champagne, aka Jerry Horn, will be happy to hear he now has a place to call his own: Tiburon Wine. His new wine store and tasting room has room for 22 inside and 8 outside on their patio. Come by for a glass, a bottle, and bring some home too. You’ll find one of the best selections of French Champagne in Marin County, plus local wines too (and it’s not all fancy—you’ll find a bunch of easy-on-the-wallet wines to enjoy, from $10-$30). There will be special guests as well: look for an upcoming four-course pop-up in August, with Gordon Drysdale. Open daily 12pm-8pm. 84 Main St., Tiburon, 415-435-FIZZ.  

June 16, 2015

Some of the aperitivo delights that await you at Locanda! Photo via @tablehopper on Instagram.

The next time you’re wondering where to unwind at the end of the workday, or even on the weekend, you’ll want to check out ~LOCANDA~’s aperitivo hour, which is offered daily 5:30pm-7pm (so yeah, that’s actually 90 minutes!). Come by the bar area, and you’ll be able to partake in a classic Italian tradition, which means light cocktails with free bar snacks. You can order a variety of cocktails, like an Aperol Spritz, a Negroni, and their concoction, Church (Aperol, gin, Cocchi Americano, lemon), all for $8. There are also a variety of wines for $6 and a couple of beers for $4.

The best part is the complimentary snacks, like their oxtail supplì, “cacio e pepe” kettle chips, deviled eggs, and don’t miss the roasted peanuts with dried anchovies.

Down the street, news broke that ~AMNESIA~ will be getting new owners. After 15 years, Shawn Magee is moving on from his little soulful and jazzy and funky oasis, selling it to the owners of SoMa’s City Beer Store, plus two more partners. Magee’s heartfelt note on Facebook, which you really should read because it’s as charming as hell, mentions he will be doing some farewell shows and is happy the bar is going to be passed on to some very capable hands. Thanks for all the fun nights of music! 853 Valencia St. at 20th St., 415-970-0012.

June 9, 2015

One of the tasty brunch dishes you will find at West Coast Wine. Photo: ©

The 11th annual Pinot Days wine tasting is coming up on Saturday June 20th at City View at Metreon. The tasting offers pours from more than 80 pinot producers from California, Oregon, and internationally. The trade and media tasting is from 11:30am to 1:30pm, and you can register here. Then, the public tasting will be from 2pm to 5pm, with early entry at 1pm also available. Tickets are $75 per person or $100 for early entry. City View at Metreon, 135 4th St. at Howard.

As of this last weekend, ~WEST COAST WINE~ in Cow Hollow is now serving brunch on Saturdays and Sundays, 11am-2:30pm. And starting June 15th, they will be open seven days a week: new Monday hours will be 4pm-10pm, with happy hour from 4pm-6pm.

It’s also worth noting that on Tuesday June 16th, winemaker Alex Kanzler of Kanzler Vineyards wines will be pouring a flight (including his first-ever release of a Kanzler chardonnay, 2013, the new release 2013 pinot noir, and a barrel sample of the 2014 pinot noir), 6pm-9pm. And mark your calendar, because on Wednesday July 8th, winemaker Curt Schalchlin of Sans Liege Wines will be in the house from 6pm-9pm. 2165 Union St. at Fillmore, 415-376-9720.


Truck. Yelp photo by T. F.

Another gay dive bar bites the dust: according to SFist, scruffy Mission gay bar ~TRUCK~ is closing. Owner Paul Ringhofer-Miller has owned the place for eight years and says he is looking forward to planning events elsewhere, including at the Russian River. The exact closing date is yet to be determined, and there are lots of farewell parties happening this week, so head on down and say goodbye! I know we will all miss being overserved there.

As for the new owners, SFist caught the liquor license application for the new owners, and it looks like it will be called Wooden Nickel and the owners are Cassy Fritzen (a bartender at Zeitgeist), Shannon Lynn, and Nancy Chung. We’ll keep you updated on their plans for the place. 1900 Folsom St. at 15th St., 415-252-0306.

What do you do when your bar’s name receives a cease and desist order? Why, rename it ~CEASE & DESIST~, of course. At least, that’s what the team at The Buffalo Club did, according to Capp Street Crap. No word who exactly the order came from, but a quick Google search offer lots of opportunities for speculation. Fortunately, the mirror-ball buffalo head is allowed to stay. 2331 Mission St. at 19th St., 415-906-5571.

The former La Movida space on 24th Street has been taken over by the team from Place Pigalle, as previously reported on tablehopper, and now they’ve got a name. It’s going to be called ~BIG REC TAPROOM~ and looks like it will be focused on beer. 3066 24th St. at Treat, 888-477-9288.


Beer by Local Brewing Co. Photo from Facebook.

~LOCAL BREWING CO.~, a new brewery from Regan Long and Sarah Fenson, is now open on Bluxome Street in SoMa. As Lessley Anderson noted in The Chronicle, Local Brewing, which opened last Tuesday, is one of the only breweries in San Francisco where women are brewing the beer. Long and Fenson actually began home brewing more than 10 years ago, and the new brewery is the realization of what had become their obsession. The goal of Local Brewing, they say, is to create a brewery worthy of a special trip, but not so intimidating that only “beer geeks” will be able to enjoy themselves. They’re keeping their production close to the taproom, separated only by a small guardrail, so that people can see where the beer is made and maybe even learn a little bit about brewing during their visit.

There are currently 8 beers on tap, but eventually there will be 16 total taps. The current list includes two spins on IPA and an IRA, or India Red Ale, plus the Bluxome Black Lager and SF Lager, a common lager-style beer. They are also serving some simple snacks, like salads and sandwiches, to accompany the beer. Moving forward, they also plan to offer workshops and classes out of their warehouse space. Hours are Tue-Sun 2pm-10pm, closed Mondays. 69 Bluxome St. at 5th St., 415-932-6702.

June 2, 2015

The bar at Amante. Yelp photo by Renee E.

Some breaking bar news: Pete Mrabe (of Chubby Noodle and Don Pisto’s notoriety) is the new owner of ~AMANTE~ in North Beach. He was already operating Chubby Noodle in there, but will be changing the menu format since Chubby Noodle is moving to the former Pisto’s Tacos space (more on that in our earlier post here). Mrabe plans to update the cocktail menu—he’s hiring a consultant to create signature cocktails, and he’s fired up to get some quality ice in there too (but don’t worry, he’s not into anything too fancy, just what’s tasty and fun). We’ll keep you posted on his plans for the space. 570 Green St. at Columbus, 415-361-8850.

Meanwhile, the Financial District is going to have a new bar called ~THE TREASURY~ from former Bacar vets Arnold Eric Wong (also E&O), bartender Carlos Yturria (Lure + Till, Claude Lane, Absinthe), and Phil West (Range, Third Rail), and partner Steven Werney of Teutonic Construction (25 Lusk). Look for quickly prepared craft cocktails, local beer and wine on tap, and a menu with plenty of bar snacks. Scoop reports it will be opening in late fall (this is the same historic 1912 building where Blue Bottle Café is opening in a couple of weeks). We learned that Geremia Design (Hogwash, Coffee Bar, Churchill) is behind the “New York-style bar” interior, which will include “soaring ceilings, rich textures, and gilded details.” 115 Sansome St. at Bush.


Tequila ready for tasting at Hecho. Photo via Facebook.

Join ~NICO~ and wine importer Martine Saunier (founder of Martine’s Wines), plus current president Greg Castells, on Thursday June 4th for a screening of the new film A Year in Champagne and a special four-course dinner. Oh, and maybe some Champagne too (of course). The film spotlights Saunier as she travels throughout Champagne and meets with the producers she works with there, and this fun evening will include many of the wines featured in the film.

The evening starts at 6pm with movie snacks and Champagne to enjoy during the show. Then, midway through the film, chef Nicolas Delaroque will serve a four-course menu paired with even more Champagne (including the rare Gonet-Médeville Champ D’Alouette 2002). The dinner menu will be determined the day of the event for optimal seasonality, but you can check out the wines and snacks here. Tickets are $165 per person and include food, Champagne pairings, tax, and tip. 3228 Sacramento St. at Lyon, 415-359-1000.

Downtown’s ~CLIFT HOTEL~ is celebrating 100 years in business this month. To celebrate, they’re throwing a cocktail party at the Redwood Room on Thursday June 4th from 8pm to 2am, featuring cocktails from many of San Francisco’s best bartenders. Look for drinks from Nora Furst (Lolinda), Shawn Vergara (Blackbird), and Daniel Godinez (15 Romolo), which will be available at the cocktail party and will then become part of the regular drink menu. The party also includes live entertainment and bites. Plus, 15 precent of all drink sales from the month of June will be donated to the San Francisco Museum and Historical Society. Cheers! 495 Geary St. at Taylor, 415-775-4700.

On Monday June 8th, head to ~HECHO~ to learn everything you need to know about tequila from bar manager Amar Dillon. Every month, Dillon will be offering a Monday class with different tequilas. You’ll have a chance to sample blancos, reposados, and even some mezcal. Tickets to the class are $45 and include an hour-long class, tastings, and plenty of appetizer bites to keep you sippin’. The class is 7pm-8pm. 2200 Market St. at 15th St., 415-231-6267.


The future home of Armstrong Brewing, currently under construction. Photo from Facebook.

South San Francisco is about to get a new brewery (well, kind of), called ~ARMSTRONG BREWING~. The brewery is actually moving to a new location on Grand Avenue, after several years brewing in a location that closed last year. The new space is opening this summer, hopefully at the end of July, depending on permits and construction. Once they do open, look for six different beers on tap that will rotate out every two weeks or so to keep things interesting. This is the list of beers that are planned for the opening. There will also be food inspired by the beer gardens of Germany, along the lines of sausages and pretzels. Follow along on Facebook for more details on their exact opening date. Hours will be Wed-Sat 5pm-11pm, Sun 12:00pm-9pm. 415 Grand Ave. at Maple, 415-745-2739.

May 27, 2015

House Rules. Photo by Hardy Wilson, courtesy House Rules.


The burger. Photo by Hardy Wilson, courtesy House Rules.

Opening tonight on Polk Street (previously Uno Dos Tacos) is ~HOUSE RULES~, a Russian Hill bar and restaurant from Rick Howard and Noelle Calixto (Campus in the Marina and Eddie Rickenbacker’s in the FiDi). Chef Scott Youkilis (Hog & Rocks) is behind the menu, which includes bar bites, plus dinner and weekend brunch dishes. You’ll find bar snacks like dirty martini deviled eggs, lobster salad sliders, and potato skins con queso, plus there are burgers, sandwiches (like grilled fish), and salads.

As for the cocktails, the new bar consulting company from Anderson Pugash (owner of Palm House and Bergerac) and Anthony Parks (former beverage director of Palm House and Bergerac), Fifty/Fifty, put together a list of 10 house cocktails, including the Frenemy (reposado tequila, Lichi-Li, Dolin blanc, habanero grapefruit bitters). There are also brunch cocktails as well.

Michael Brennan designed the 49-seat space, which has 25 seats at the bar and 12 outside. The look is contemporary meets classic, with lots of wood, leather, and brick, rich colors, and a fireplace. And, of course, there’s some Brennan funkiness with a classroom vignette above the door. Open Tue-Fri from 5pm-2am and Sat-Sun 11am-2am. 2227 Polk St. at Vallejo, 415-722-9109.


The Cognac Room bar. Photo by R. Brad Knipstein Photography.


The Calvados Negroni. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©


Pineapple Apricot Tropical. Photo: Dana Eastland. ©

A report by associate editor Dana Eastland. ~GASPAR BRASSERIE~ just celebrated their first anniversary, and to celebrate they are relaunching the upstairs bar, The Cognac Room, which offers a wide selection of brandy, Cognac, Armagnac, Calvados, eau-de-vie, pisco, and grappa. They’ve brought on lead bartender John Codd to create an extensive menu of brandy-based cocktails, and I recently had the chance to meet with him and sample a few of his drinks. Codd previously worked at The Slanted Door and The Coachman, and before that he was at 15 Romolo. His new cocktails include eight signature drinks created for the Cognac Room, along with 40 other brandy-based cocktail classics that have been gently updated.

The menu is organized into six categories: Cognac, brandy, Armagnac, Calvados, pisco, and eau-de-vie and grappa. In addition, the menu opens with the signature cocktails; you can see the whole menu right here. It’s an extensive menu, and the knowledgeable staff does a great job of walking you through the various brandy varieties. To start, begin with the Calvados Negroni, made with Calvados in place of gin just in time for Negroni Week. Or, for something a bit lighter, consider the French 75, with Cognac, lemon, and sparkling wine.

The exploration continues with the Cognac category, where the Champs-Élysées features Cognac along with Chartreuse, lemon, and Angostura and orange bitters. As you move into pisco territory, the Pineapple Apricot Tropical with pisco, lime, pineapple gum, orchard apricot, and Angostura bitters offers a refreshing break from the ubiquitous pisco sour (don’t worry, they’ve got a version of that, too, and it’s delicious).

In addition to the cocktail options, general manager John Allen has created a large spirit list organized by region, with selections from all over the world. For those curious about brandy, there will be flights of different varieties available, including pisco and Armagnac. As for food, Gaspar’s menu will be available at the bar, though it’s a pretty sexy, dimly lit space for a full meal—I’d stick with appetizers and smaller dishes. Chef Chris Jones is working on a special bar menu of smaller plates, as well, including a delicate truffled egg custard served in an eggshell.

The space was designed by owner Franck LeClerc and architect Elmer Lin of Consortium Design, and has a great old-school vibe. For more details on the design, check out this tablehopper piece about its opening. Hours are Sun-Tue 4pm-10pm and Wed-Sat 4pm-11pm, with a happy hour Mon-Fri 4pm-6pm.


Chardonnay and pinot noir heaven. Photo courtesy of Patz & Hall.

This Friday May 29th, head to the ~FERRY PLAZA WINE MERCHANT~ for a night of tasting Hitachino Nest beers. The special tasting runs from 4:30pm to 7:30pm, and importer Michael Hartman will be on hand, talking about the beers and sharing limited-edition pours. The special flight for the evening includes five different beers, including the XH shochu cask-aged beer and Hitachino Nest Commemorative Ale. In addition, anyone who purchases the flight will get 15 percent off any retail purchase of beers in the flight, sweet. Flights are $16 per person, no reservations or tickets required. 1 Ferry Building, Shop 23, at Embarcadero, 415-391-9400.

~LOCANDA~ is hosting Italian winemaker Bruno de Conciliis of Viticoltori de Conciliis on Wednesday June 3rd. His wines will be paired with dishes inspired by the Amalfi Coast and Campania. The menu will be available à la carte, and wine director Sally Kim will be available to help with pairings. Reservations can be made by calling the restaurant.

Don’t forget the very special wine tasting co-hosted by tablehopper with Patz & Hall on Friday June 12th at 6:30pm. It’s at Naked Kitchen and includes a dynamic wine tasting led by Patz & Hall co-founders James Hall and Heather Patz, who will explore the intricacies of terroir and the diversity of chardonnay and pinot noir through a side-by-side comparison of five single-vineyard wines. There will also be charcuterie, custom-made with Patz & Hall wines by noted local charcutier Peter Temkin (Show Dogs, Foreign Cinema), plus local Sonoma cheeses. Tickets are available on Sosh and cost $65 per person, all inclusive. Don’t miss it, and see you there!


The exterior of the Bubble Lounge. Photo from Yelp.

After 17 years of business downtown, ~THE BUBBLE LOUNGE~ has closed. Scoop reports that owner Eric Benn plans to keep the space and reopen it with a different concept. The lounge opened in late 1997 and has been serving Champagne and sparkling wine ever since. They have a full liquor license, so it will be interesting to see what happens when they reopen. 714 Montgomery St. at Washington.

May 19, 2015

Lounge seating at Resolute. Photo: ©


The antique brass beer tower and fun wood-handled taps. Photo: ©


The exterior. Photo: ©

Last week I swung by the newly opened ~RESOLUTE~, a new wine (and beer) bar and shop that opened right next door to Rye in the TenderNob. Owners Justin Beem and Daniel Brooker (previously at wine shop Vin Debut) are fired up to offer hard-to-find wines from tiny wineries, excellent wines, and new wines, with a few exclusives too (don’t expect any big names here—it’s primarily about smaller producers). You’ll be able to explore the wines on tap in glasses or flights (and bottles too), and if you find something you really love, you’ll be able to buy it! There are 4 sparkling wines by the glass (nice), with a range of 8 whites ($10-$17 BTG) and 16 reds ($10-$30). I loved the range of styles and descriptions for each wine—you’ll find plenty to explore, and you can have as much education as you’d like as well.

Same story with their selection of beers—look for some smaller producers on draft (six in all), and be sure to check out the beer tap handles, which are in varying shades of wood that correspond with the darkness of the beer (there are ciders as well). There will be some good cheeses (from local picks to Mahon from Minorca, Spain) and charcuterie (from Creminelli and Olympia Provisions) as well. The cheese plate was well composed and quite delicious.

They brought on Zero Ten Design (led by John Rojas) as the architect and interior design team, and they did quite a stellar job to create a chic yet comfortable space (it used to be two retail spaces, which they were able to join as one space when they knocked the dividing wall down). The first thing you’ll notice is punch of color around the bar area in cornflower blue, with a sexy high-gloss finish. The 15-seat L-shaped bar features a Calacatta marble top, and the eye-catching antique brass beer tower gleams. There’s a lounge area that features low-slung seating and brass and stone tables, with a banquette that wraps around the perimeter and little “pouf” stools you can move around as needed. Other cool design touches include the glowing circular pendant lights and walnut lattice screens. Yeah, you couldn’t find a better first date/getting to know you spot.

Hours are conveniently Mon-Thu 4pm-12am, Fri 4pm-2am, Sat 12pm-2am, Sun 12pm-12am. 678 Geary St. at Leavenworth, 415-825-0741.


Jacques Bezuidenhout and Ken Luciano behind the bar at Forgery. Photo courtesy PlumpJack Group.

The PlumpJack Group has opened a new bar in Mid-Market, called ~FORGERY~, which we mentioned a month ago. Jacques Bezuidenhout and Ken Luciano are running the show in partnership with the group. The pair previously managed beverages at Kimpton Hotels and are offering a list of fun, approachable cocktails along with beer and wine. The drinks menu has a global bent, with spirits and flavors from around the world, divided into house originals and classics (some with a twist). There are also some “tribute” cocktails, including the margarita from Tommy’s and the Green Beast from Bar 1805 in Ibiza.

The space has an industrial vibe—it used to function as glassblowing studio and a historic printing press—and they’ve kept that style, with exposed brick, concrete floors, and high ceilings with 15-foot-high windows. The bar is made of dark mahogany, and the walls are lined with leather banquettes. The space is also adjacent to a nightclub that will open in the coming months and is currently available for private parties. Hours are currently Tue-Thu 4pm-12am, Fri 4pm-2am, Sat 6pm-2am, closed Sun-Mon; expanded hours are coming in June. 1525 Mission St. at 11th St., 415-796-2325.


The bar at Comstock Saloon. Photo: © 2010 Liza Gershman.

On Wednesday May 20th ~COMSTOCK SALOON~ is celebrating five years of business with a hootenanny party. From 12pm to 2am, Comstock alums will be behind the bar and in the kitchen, preparing some of the saloon’s classic dishes and drinks. Dishes include a pretzel with pimento cheese ($6), an andouille Scotch egg ($12), lamb meatballs with ricotta salata and garlic bread ($15), crisp chicken livers ($12), and Carlo’s hot chicken wings ($14); here’s the menu. Bourbon pudding, oh you know it. As for drinks, they promise lots of boots and cold-ass beer and many of Comstock’s classic cocktails. Beginning at 4pm, there will be live music and entertainment too. Happy birthday, Comstock, and thanks for the five years of hangovers!