The Lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
April 19, 2016

Getting warmed up at Mighty. Photo via Facebook.


The Gangway. Yelp photo by Kevin Y.

This has been in the works for a while, and even though it isn’t a done deal just yet, the team behind Monarch is planning to take over ~MIGHTY~. Sean Manchester, who just celebrated the club’s 13th anniversary, confirmed things “are in the hands of the ABC right now,” so there’s no telling when the transfer can happen. Manchester doesn’t know if or what his continued involvement may be—he will continue to focus his attention on Chambers with his wife Isabel. I reached out to Monarch’s Christopher Smith (founder of Om Records, Up All Night) and didn’t hear a peep, so we’ll just have to wait and see what the fate of the club is. 119 Utah St. at 15th St.

We broke the news back in January that ~THE GANGWAY~, SF’s first and oldest gay bar (since 1961) was in process of being sold to “Breaking Chad, Inc.” (a couple of straight guys). Well, sorrynotsorry for the owner Jung Lee, but I’m happy to hear that deal fell through and now Jung reportedly has offers from other potential buyers. His first pick is “a male couple who own another bar already” and “they’ll keep the bar the same way.” Exhalllllllinnnnnngggggg. Slowly. Would love that to work out.

So, here’s hoping one of SF’s best dive gay bars lives on in all its quirky and tattered and daytime drinking glory. And here’s a little video history lesson for you so you can learn and love even more about this place (even though it is now happily incorrect stating that it was sold). 841 Larkin St. at Geary, 415-776-6828.

April 12, 2016

The Red Rooster at Horsefeather. Photo courtesy of Horsefeather.

At long last, the transformation of Ziryab into Tsk/Tsk and now ~HORSEFEATHER~ is complete—and the Divisadero Corridor has a swell new watering hole. The team is Justin Lew, Ian Scalzo (both previously of Future Bars), and chef Ryan Chinchilla (formerly Foreign Cinema and Blue Plate). Look for some inventive and well-executed cocktails with hand-cut ice that will change with the seasons, like the Red Rooster (pineapple, brown sugar, Ancho Reyes, lemon juice, riesling, soda, and Aperol). The new interior takes some inspiration from the American Arts and Crafts period (by James Lagoc of Local Produce Design), with tufted banquettes, quartersawn oak wood paneling, and let’s not forget that heated patio.

Sample items on the eclectic menu include summer veggies with quinoa, harissa, soft-cooked egg, and bread crumb salsa; halibut ceviche tostada with jalapeño crema, chermoula, and avocado and cucumber salsa; claypot chicken wings with fish sauce, caramel, fried garlic and ginger, and cilantro; and buttermilk-brined fried chicken with Thai cabbage slaw, mashed potato, and sriracha honey. Brunch items will include two sunny-side up eggs with crispy potato kale hash, shaved pork, arugula, saba, and a tortilla omelet with chermoula, harissa, and mâche.

Open Mon-Fri 5pm-2am, Sat-Sun 11am-2am, with late brunch that will be served until 4pm, yay. (Brunch will begin soon.) 528 Divisadero St. at Fell.


The new loungy Wildhawk. Photo: Matthew Millman.

Soft opening on Wednesday April 13th is ~WILDHAWK~, the bar from the PlumpJack Group that has taken over the former Lexington Club space. No, you won’t recognize it—that beloved little dingy corner bar’s days are long gone. So let’s just pour out some vermouth (that’s what the new bar is excited about) and take a look at what has taken over San Francisco’s last lesbian bar.

The team is a talented one, Jacques Bezuidenhout and Ken Luciano of Forgery, and they brought on the equally badass Karri Cormican (formerly of Comstock Saloon) to run daily ops. The cocktail list has 8-10 drinks, plus a page of 5 vermouth-forward ones, plus 10 vermouths to taste (hanging out in their own dedicated refrigerator). Chef Howard Ko (Balboa Cafe) put together a list of bar bites, like crudos, charcuterie, and Spanish-style canned sardines.

Jay Jeffers is behind the design, his first bar. Zebra barstools and wallpaper, in effect. Open Mon-Thu 5pm-12am, Fri 5pm-2am, Sat 2pm-2am, Sun 2pm-12am. 3464 19th St. at Lexington, 415-420-1516.


Here’s a quick-fire round of some boozy events for your consideration:

Authors Talia Baiocchi and Leslie Pariseau are in town to celebrate the launch of their new book, Spritz: Italy’s Most Iconic Aperitivo Cocktail, with Recipes. They are hosting an aperitivo event with Aperol on Thursday April 14th at ~15 ROMOLO~, 5:30pm-8pm. Tickets are $40, which includes cocktails and snacks from the book and a copy of Spritz. For every ticket sold, the Spritz Tour will donate $1 to Water for People, a nonprofit seeking to ensure that everyone has access to reliable and safe drinking water. 15 Romolo Pl. at Broadway.

Fans of Cognac who aren’t hemorrhaging all their money to Uncle Sam this Friday will want to check out this Cognac tasting hosted by Benedicte Hardy of Maison Hardy on Thursday April 14th at ~SCOMA’S~. A retail value of more than $1,000 in Cognacs will be tasted, 1 ounce each of VSOP, XO, 30 year, 50 year, 60 year, and 75 year. There will also be pairings with pâté, triple-crème cheese, and chocolates. Guests will also receive a signed 750ml bottle of the only triple-certified organic VSOP in the world. All bottles of Cognacs will be available for purchase the night of the event at just 10 percent over cost. 7pm. Tickets: $300 per person (inclusive of tax and gratuity).

Monday April 18th is a Heaven Hill dinner (including Rittenhouse rye and Larceny) at ~GASPAR BRASSERIE~: the four-course dinner will be paired with Heaven Hill cocktails. Tickets: just $65 (excluding tax and gratuity).

Fans of Italian wines, get your ticket for ~DONATO ENOTECA~’s Enoteca 100 Primavera Italian Wine Tasting on Saturday April 30th. This all-Barolo, Barbaresco, and nebbiolo wine tasting will have 50-plus bottles for you to try, plus delicious food and jazz. Donato throws quite a party, don’t miss it. 1pm-4pm. Tickets: $90, inclusive of tax and gratuity. 1041 Middlefield Rd., Redwood City, 650-701-1000.

March 22, 2016

It’s time for Fizz & Pop! Photo courtesy of CUESA.

Fans of the fabulous CUESA and United States Bartenders’ Guild cocktail events, you have another one to put on your calendar: Fizz & Pop: Spring Cocktails of the Farmers Market will be on Wednesday April 27th. Twenty-plus local bartenders and chefs will be creating bubbly drinks and bites inspired by the bounty of the spring farmers’ market (berries in effect!), with a pop soundtrack spanning the Beatles to Beyoncé. Some of the bartender talent includes Megan Daniel and Alex Smith of Whitechapel, Nora Furst of Lolinda, Tim Hagney of Maven, and Jessica Maria of the Hotsy Totsy Club. And here’s the best part: tablehopper readers get 15 percent off the $60 tickets with this link! Cheers to that. You’ll get three full-sized cocktails and unlimited sample-sized drinks. 5:30pm-8pm. The Ferry Building Grand Hall (second floor), 1 Ferry Building.

Craft beer fans, tickets are now on sale for the 33rd annual San Francisco International Beer Festival to be held May 21st at Fort Mason Center’s Festival Pavilion. There will be hundreds of beers from brewers like Magnolia Brewing Co., North Coast Brewing Co., San Francisco Brewing Co., Pine Street Brewery, and Carneros Brewing Co., plus international beers from Baja Brewing Co. and Cabo’s first craft brewery. There will also be talks and plenty of eats, with food from Mission Bowling Club, Rosamunde Sausage Grill, duck tacos from the GreenGrocer, Belcampo Meat Co., and Pizza Orgasmica. Tickets start at $75. 7pm-10pm. Festival Pavilion, Fort Mason Center.

March 15, 2016

Courtesy of @leosoysterbar on Instagram.


A few bits of booze news for you. First up, ~LEO’S OYSTER BAR~ in the FiDi has opened The Hideaway, a cocktail bar you’ll find when you walk through the back corridor behind the oyster bar. There are brass pendant lights, metallic leather banquettes, terra-cotta tiled floors, a cane and mahogany bar, and more of that fab tropical wallpaper Ken Fulk is using for the space. There are a few cocktails you can only get in the Hideaway, including a rotating Champagne cocktail, and there are a few large-format cocktails you can order for your group as well. You can order bites and more too. It opens Mon-Sat at 5:30pm. 568 Sacramento St. at Sansome, 415-872-9982.

Local barman and scribe Duggan McDonnell will be teaching a class based on his recent book, Drinking the Devil’s Acre: A Love Letter from San Francisco and Her Cocktails, at Cavallo Point Cooking School in Sausalito on Thursday April 7th. McDonnell will share insights, ever-engaging stories, and of course some cocktails from his book, while the Cavallo Point kitchen prepares a dinner menu inspired by the selected cocktails. The event runs 6pm-9pm, $125 per person (includes drinks, signed book, class, and dinner). 601 Murray Circle, Sausalito.

March 8, 2016

Some of the many Italian wines at Biondivino. Yelp photo by Kwan K.

Starting this month, ~BIONDIVINO~ will be closed on Mondays in order to offer by-appointment-only shopping experiences, as well as launch Istituto Biondivino, led by Vino Italiano author David Lynch (previously St. Vincent) and Biondivino owner Ceri Smith. These two are complete and utter Italophiles, so if you want to learn more about Italian wine, check out the lineup of classes, ranging from a deep dive on Chianti to Southern Italian wines. Classes are an hour long and $50 per person for the tasting/discussion, with discount pricing for “students” wishing to stock up on their favorites after the tasting.

Fans of cider will want to score early bird tickets for Cider Summit SF, which returns for its third year on April 23rd. You’ll be able to try more than 150 ciders (local, regional, and international) at the Civil War Parade Ground in the Presidio, and food will also be available for purchase from vendors, including Slow Hand BBQ. Early bird tickets are $35, and beginning April 1st, tickets will be $40 in advance (also available at SF area Whole Foods Markets) or $45 at the door, cash only. VIP tickets are available for $50 (for early access and two additional tasting tickets).