June 15, 2012

June 15, 2012
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The bar at Tradition. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

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The “Dive Bar” snug. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

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Mugs for the “Tiki” menu section. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

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Bottles of house-barrel-aged spirits. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. © tablehopper.com.

A report by Dana Massey-Todd: The team that brought you Bourbon & Branch, Rickhouse, and Local Edition has now turned its focus to a new venture, ~TRADITION~, which recently had its soft opening and will open with its full cocktail menu and service on Tuesday June 19th.

Many of you will remember the space as the former home of ~MR. LEW’S WIN WIN BAR~ and ~CLUB 441~, but after extensive renovation the space is large, airy, and barely recognizable. The ceilings are high, and there is a mezzanine level in the back, so boozehounds have plenty of room to breathe, drink, and socialize.

This time around, they’ve decided to offer a crash course in the history of American cocktail traditions through the ideal medium: the cocktails themselves. The menu is divided into sections that each identify one of the disparate roots of contemporary American drinking. First, we have “The Big Easy,” which identifies New Orleans’ rich history as a drinking town and features the familiar Mr. Lew’s Sazerac. Then we have the “Speakeasy,” an obvious toast to the necessary innovations developed during Prohibition. This section features a Bathtub Gin Punch for four, which sounds like great fun. Island-hopping on, we salute the “Tiki” craze of the 1940s with a Scorpion Bowl for two (an inexpensive alternative to that tropical vacation you and your sweetie can’t quite make time for). There are also sections that nod to the Irish, Scottish, and English pubs and spirits that inform American bar culture. And, as we all learned in high school, we can’t talk about history, even fun, boozy history, without talking about class and money. Hence, “The Grand Hotel” and “Dive Bar” sections, which celebrate both the snobbiest (French 75) and trashiest (Frozen Margarita for five) sips in America. Each section will also have a corresponding beer, because one really can’t celebrate American drinking traditions without it.

In a further toast to American ingenuity, they will be blending and aging their own spirits in charred oak barrels washed with various other spirits. Some combinations to look out for are a rye aged in a Chartreuse-washed barrel and gin in a pinot noir barrel. They are also serving a housemade version of Pimm’s, and though the exact technique is a trade secret, I was told that the magic is all in the infusion. Some of these spirits may appear in cocktails, while others will be available on a rotating basis as a shot with a beer back called the “Industry Special.”

One side of the bar is available by reservation only and features a series of “snugs,” or cozy booths, which are decked out to correspond to each of the menu sections. The Grand Hotel snug seats larger groups under a fancy chandelier, while the Scottish Pub is actually two little snugs, each accommodating a party of two. The other side is more open, has high barstools, and is for walk-in patrons. The menu served on this side will likely be simpler than that available at the snugs, though these details were not solidified at the time of my visit. The mezzanine level also accommodates walk-ins, though in the future it may be available by reservation to large parties. The walls are covered in vintage alcohol advertisements, which should be excellent conversation starters. Keep your eyes peeled for Pierce Brosnan with ’80s hair.

As of Tuesday June 19th, the regular hours will be 5pm-2am, Monday through Saturday. You’ll be able to make reservations on their website if you’d like a reserved spot. Until Saturday June 16th, you can stop in for the soft opening after 6pm, though note that they will be closed Sunday June 17th and Monday June 18th. 441 Jones Street at O’Farrell, 415-474-2284.

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