December 5, 2017

December 5, 2017

Tartine’s new director of bar operations, Julian Cox.

Some exciting news at ~TARTINE MANUFACTORY~: they have landed a Type 47 liquor license and will be launching a full bar program in the spring. Overseeing the boozy magic will be Julian Cox, Tartine’s new director of bar operations. Cox was most recently director of beverage for Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises in Chicago, and previously was making a name for himself in Los Angeles at Rivera, Redbird, Bestia, Otium, and Sotto. In 2014, Food & Wine named him one of the 10 most influential bartenders in the past 10 years.

As for Tartine, he plans to create a bar program based around the seasonality and deep sourcing that guides the culinary side: “I’m looking forward to taking advantage of the amazing regional produce and discovering new distilleries we can highlight at the bar.” Look for small producers, housemade bitters, cordials, and tinctures, plus fresh juices and some experimental zhoosh with dehydrated ingredients. He’ll also be using blocks of ice from a Clinebell machine, so expect some impressive ice too.


The bar at Starbelly will soon be serving cocktails with liquor (and not just wine). Photo via Facebook.

Another SF establishment that will soon be slinging drinks is ~STARBELLY~ in the Castro, which has been serving beer and wine and wine-based cocktails for the past eight-plus years. But come January (or so they’re hoping and aiming for), actual boozy cocktails will be on the list as well—they bought the license from the closed Forbes Island.

The team is currently tasting through the list and drinks—they will continue to follow their cocktail style of refreshing and citrus-based drinks, with fresh fruit and herbs. The Pimm’s Cup will now get a little bit of actual liquor, along with other drinks that will be more fortified, and there will be some amaro as well. 3583 16th St. at Market.


Just a small section of the long bar at Junior. Instagram photo via @juniorbarsf.


The spacious bar area at The Snug. Photo: Jonathan Racusin.


The Prickly Pear at The Snug. Photo: Jonathan Racusin.


The main floor and stage area at Emporium. Photo: ©


The upstairs skydeck at Emporium, with a second bar and pool tables. Photo: ©

Another week, another new bar. Wait, make that two. And an arcade.

Now open on 24th Street in the former Jack’s Club is ~JUNIOR~ from Matty Conway, Anthony Healy-London, and Josh McAdam (Brass Tacks), who joined up with David Ruiz (most recently the bar manager at Padrecito). It’s spacious, and Sayre Ziskin (who designed Brass Tacks and Anina) did a gorgeous job, with a colorful painted ceiling and wall murals, groovy light fixtures, large windows, and plenty of seating. Take a look at Ruiz’s menu here, which has a range of cocktails for $12 and plenty of beers to keep you happy. And they open early! Hours are Mon-Fri 2pm-2am and Sat-Sun 12pm-2am. 2545 24th St. at Utah.

Last week, I swung by the preopening party for ~THE SNUG~, which is now open on Fillmore and Clay in Pacific Heights. Partners Zack Schwab, Shane Matthews, Brian Shin, and Jacob Racusin (The Alembic) wanted to create a neighborhood bar, offering well-made cocktails, plus craft beers and bar food that is definitely a level above the usual.

The cocktail list features creative spins on classic recipes, highlighting housemade ingredients and seasonality. There are a couple of exclusive bourbon selections, cocktails on tap, and 14 taps of beers and ciders, plus a cask ale and plenty of bottles highlighting sours, stouts, and strong ales.

Chef Brian Shin (Alinea, Corton, Benu, In Situ) is making some creative and well-executed bar food, from Korean fried chicken wings to a Spam musubi lettuce wrap with housemade Spam. He also is utilizing the space’s tandoori oven (it was previously Mehfil Indian Cuisine), with dishes like sesame naan and shiitake hummus. Check out the menu here.

The space has an approachable and clean look, with a long bar top (31 feet of Douglas fir!) and plenty of other wood elements, from the round swivel bar seats to the high-top tables with room for six each across from the bar. The front area flanking the street has low industrial/metal stools, which won’t be the coziest in the winter, but you’ll just need to drink more; there’s also an upstairs mezzanine with more seating. Britt Hull of Tide Design Co. is behind the design. Open Sun-Thu 4pm-12am and Fri-Sat 4pm-2am; kitchen until 11pm. Brunch and outdoor seating will come next. 2301 Fillmore St. at Clay.

And after being vacant for almost as long as I have lived in the Western Addition, and three years of construction, the Harding Theater on Divisadero was saved from demolition and is now open again and home to ~EMPORIUM~, an arcade bar and event venue. The space is massive (more than 12,000 feet) and dates back to 1926—you’ll note some original architectural details, like the molding along the ceiling. There’s room for 900 guests, with a stage, original balcony level with some seating, and a skydeck with a second bar and pool tables.

There are more than 50 games, including Skee-Ball, air hockey, pinball, vintage arcade games like Pac-Man, plus Killer Queen and more. The 30-foot movie screen and 19-foot-tall projection screen will come in handy for viewings and big games, and there are plenty of display screens for private events too. Live music, DJs, and more will be programmed as well.

The cocktail list is still being tweaked, but there are a couple on tap, along with all-American craft beers—20 taps overall. They will be rotating beers often, but some initial selections include Social Kitchen & Brewery pils, Altamont Maui Waui IPA, Fieldwork Sensee Party Hazy IPA, and High Water Campfire nitro stout. There are also canned beers too. Interestingly there isn’t a food offering/kitchen, but outside food is allowed in.

The project is from Danny and Doug Marks, who also have three locations in Chicago. 21 and over. Business hours this week are Mon-Thu 4pm-2am, Fri 3pm-2am, Sat-Sun 12pm-2am. 616 Divisadero St. at Hayes.


It’s Champagne o’clock. Photo: ©

‘Tis the season (to be drinking), and let’s start with my favorite seasonal event, the Grower-Producer Champagne Tasting event at ~ARLEQUIN WINE MERCHANT~. There will be more than 45 grower Champagnes, including pours of Agrapart, Tarlant, Vesselle, Egly-Ouriet, Soutiran, Bérêche, J. Lassalle, Collin, Chartogne-Taillet, and Marie Courtin. And when you choose your favorites to buy, you get 10 percent off the retail price! $75. Thu Dec 14th. 5:30pm-8pm. (You can also say hello to the new beverage director Phillip Acquafresca, formerly of Cask and Slanted Door.)

More Champagne: if you have some family in from out of town and they want a view and some bubbles, ~EPIC STEAK~ is hosting their Champagne Hour every Wednesday from 5pm-7pm (so it’s actually two hours), pouring Veuve Clicquot at 50 percent off—and they’ll saber a bottle at kickoff time. So that glass of Veuve Yellow Label is just $13 instead of $26 (or get a bottle for $52), and a bottle of Grand Dame 2006 is $150 (original price: $300).

Need something stronger? Tonight, Tuesday December 5th, ~CAPO’S~ is hosting their fifth anniversary on National Repeal Day. There will be live music, actors in 1920s looks, standing passed bites at the bar, and the first 33 people will receive a free flask to commemorate the year 1933, when Prohibition came to an end. 4pm-10pm. (Capo’s is also collaborating with the nearby The Speakeasy.)

This event has been rescheduled to Thursday January 18th. On Thursday December 7th, Reza Esmaili is hosting a hands-on tequila and whiskey mixing class, partnering with Casa Noble Tequila and High West Whiskey. You’ll enjoy cocktails, bites, and learn some tips and techniques behind the bar. 6:30pm-8:30pm. $59, tickets here. At ~TRACE~ upstairs at W San Francisco, 181 3rd St. at Howard.

~MONK’S KETTLE~ is celebrating their 10 year anniversary (Sat December 9th-Mon December 18th) with a series of events called Ten Days for a Decade; check out the party lineup here. They will also be giving a take-home beer glass to all patrons that week, until they run out.

Another spot celebrating 10 years is ~THE TRAPPIST~ in Oakland on Saturday December 9th. Ten of their favorite brewer friends have each made a special for beer (including Jackie O’s in Ohio and Allagash from Maine), which they will be releasing at the event on draft (and several are also available in either bottle or can). Details here. 12pm to close.

Beer lovers will also want to note SF Beer Week is running from February 9th-18th, and tickets for some of the events are on sale now (like the gala, which always sells out).

On Wednesday December 13th, the ~ARGUELLO~ team is hosting a night of boozin’ and tequila education (er, tasting) with El Tesoro. For $65, you get a welcome beverage, bites, an interactive cocktail salt-making session, and four one-ounce tasting pours. Tickets here. And don’t forget to drink water!

If you want a festive backdrop to your holiday beverages, be sure to check out my piece from last week.