The Lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
May 24, 2016
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Head on down to the Beer Basement! Photo via Facebook.

Folks who enjoy the well-stocked craft beer store Ales Unlimited in Pac Heights have a second place to enjoy Steve and Betty Smith’s selections—the former 222 Hyde in the Tenderloin is now the ~ALES UNLIMITED BEER BASEMENT~. Hoodline reports there are eight taps with rare beers and ciders and 40-plus bottles. The stand-up comedy shows will continue, once their live entertainment permit is all clear. Hours are 4pm-12am. 222 Hyde St. at Turk.

The Rhone Rangers are back, with a series of events celebrating American Rhone-style wines, from Friday June 10th to the grand tasting on Saturday June 11th. Golden Gate Club in the Presidio, 135 Fisher Loop.

And it looks like it’s mission accomplished: In Pursuit of Balance has announced the end of operations will come after their final tasting event in November.

May 17, 2016
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The Perfect Stranger at Loló. Photo: Brandon Tran.

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The Quesilo (yes, that’s Parmesan on top). Photo: Brandon Tran.

Fans of the wonder duo behind the bar at ~LOLÓ~, David Gallardo and Leon Vasquez, will be sorry to hear Gallardo is leaving SF to go travel the world and find a new nest in a few months. As a proper send-off, the gents have launched a new spring/summer cocktail menu, their last together, with 12 new cocktails on the 21-strong list.

Per usual, there is no lack of creativity, like the Perfect Stranger (Lo-Fi dry vermouth, Ford’s gin, oloroso sherry, jalapeño brine, and celery bitters, clarified with goat’s milk), inspired by a late-night staff meal when they realized the flavor of goat cheese and jalapeño would work well in a cocktail. And then there’s the Quesilo (bell pepper-infused gin, sherry, lemon, ruby port, egg white, topped with Parmesan cheese and black pepper)—yup, it sounds like cacio e pepe on top, the kind of drink you want to eat. And then you can have a good laugh over the names, like the Devil’s Dandruff and Mexican Zombie and Wet Dawg. Where’s the Vaya con Dios?

Champagne lovers, you’ll want to pop by the ~FERRY PLAZA WINE MERCHANT~ this Wednesday May 18th—the one and only Eugenio Jardim (whom any of you who attended the tablehopper Vietnamese and Vinho Verde supper will remember well!) will be pouring five special R.M. (Récoltant Manipulant, or grower-producer) Champagnes from the Esprit de Champagne portfolio. Click here for the lineup.

Come by 4:30pm-7:30pm and taste some very special cuvées he has selected. The flight is $32—anyone who purchases the flight can take 15 percent off any of the five wines you will assuredly fall in love with. One Ferry Building, Shop 23, Embarcadero at Market, 415-391-9400.

May 10, 2016
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A look at Laszlo’s new bar. Photo: Charlie Villyard.

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The bar looks so airy and spacious! Photo: Charlie Villyard.

Back in December, I let you know that ~LASZLO~ was getting an update after 15 years, moving away from its industrial and dark look. You ready to see this gorgeous new bar? It reopens on Thursday May 12th.

Foreign Cinema’s Gayle Pirie and John Clark used the same company that worked on Laszlo’s original build-out, Praxis Architects. The space has a much lighter and airy look, with new seating throughout, lighting, a new DJ platform, upgraded sound system, and seasonally driven cocktail menu by Foreign Cinema and Laszlo bar manager Nicky Beyries. Don’t forget the hidden-away tables on the mezzanine too!

You can still order food and brunch in the bar, plus there’s a new bar bites menu that includes FC’s superlative Madras fried chicken as a sandwich, whut? Open Mon-Wed 5pm-12am, Thu 5:30pm-2am, Fri 3pm-2am, Sat 11am-2am, Sun 11am-12am. 2526 Mission St. at 21st St., 415-401-0810.

April 19, 2016
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Getting warmed up at Mighty. Photo via Facebook.

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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
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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.

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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.

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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.