The Lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
May 16, 2017
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Lucky 13, long may she reign. Photo from Facebook.

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Negroni Week returns June 3rd-12th.

Some booze news for you, starting with the unfortunate update that it looks like ~LUCKY 13~ is going to be replaced with condos after all. Ugh, that location has a lot of history! No word yet on timing, but here’s the paperwork on Hoodline. 2140 Market St. at 14th St., 415-487-1313.

Some good news: up the street, music has already returned to ~CAFE DU NORD~—Noise Pop is working with owner Dylan MacNiven and already filling up the calendar. SFist reports they are also making some changes inside and removing the wall that separated the private Viking Room from the main space. Drinks and bites will be available as well. 2174 Market St. at Sanchez.

Prepare thy liver: Negroni Week returns June 3rd-12th, courtesy of Campari and Imbibe Magazine, and dang, I am sorry to miss it. (I doubt I will find a bar serving Negronis in Koh Tao, but I sure as hell will try!) Now in its fifth year, the weeklong international charity initiative mean bars, restaurants, and vendors from around the world will be promoting their spin on the classic Negroni cocktail, all while raising money and awareness for great causes.

Some new things this year: participating businesses (you can still register through June 1st!) can now choose from a curated list of 42 charities, including many of the most popular charities from the last two years. There is also an up-front donation (recommended $100, minimum of $25) made directly through the Negroni Week website—the goal is a stronger impact for participating charities and benefiting them as much as possible. Participants can contribute additional funds that they’ve raised throughout the week at any time during Negroni Week on the website. Campari will be donating $10,000 to the U.S. charity that receives the top donation amount, and $1,500 to each U.S. charity participating in Negroni Week. Amazing.

Specials and fun treats will be coming to the city, and there’s even a Campari-branded red bicycle from PUBLIC, a Negroni-red Baggu tote, among other items, with various levels of proceeds donated to charity. Look for many upcoming events—like Locanda opening on a Tuesday night for a Negroni Lab, on Tuesday June 6th; stay up to date by following @CampariUSA and @Imbibe on Instagram and rocking the #NegroniWeek hashtag.

There’s also the third annual Team Negroni Bike Ride rolling through multiple cities and led by The Modern Mixologist Tony Abou-Ganim. Bartenders and spirits aficionados will be riding 40 miles in each of the various cities, including Chicago, Denver, Las Vegas, Miami, New York, Santa Fe, and San Francisco (on June 5th). You can join the charity rides to benefit the Helen David Relief Fund and support its mission to assist women in the bar industry who are fighting breast cancer. All riders who raise $250 or more will receive a Team Negroni cycling uniform. More here.

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A sampling of spring dishes and wine at Cultivar. Instagram photo by @cultivar_sf.

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Sons & Daughters. Photo courtesy of S&D.

A couple of months ago, I mentioned there was a new wine bar coming to Chestnut Street, ~CULTIVAR~, and it’s now open. You can read more in my original post, but expect small-batch wines, seasonal small plates, and 36 seats. Open Wed-Sun 3pm-11pm. 2379 Chestnut St. at Divisadero, 415-962-4200.

I also mentioned that London Market had morphed into ~MAISON CORBEAUX AT LONDON MARKET~, a wine and spirits shop from Kyle Nadeau, who reportedly worked at D&M Liquors on Fillmore for nearly a decade. It also ends up Maison Corbeaux Fine Wines & Spirits has changed its name from The Bank of Wine & Spirits and moved from its FiDi location on the ground floor of Wingtip—the last day in that location is May 19th. Swing by for the opportunity to “rob the bank” with a 15 percent discount on all in-store purchases at 550 Montgomery Street. Meanwhile, Maison Corbeaux at London Market is open daily 11am-7pm, with a vast selection of wines, beers, spirits, and more. A deli and coffee stand are in the works, plus a tasting bar. 2901 Sacramento St. at Divisadero.

One last bit of news: if you come by ~SONS & DAUGHTERS~, now exclusively under the ownership of chef Teague Moriarty, you’ll see a new wine director, Amy Currens. She was previously a Champagne specialist with Moët Hennessy and also served as wine and beverage director at Farmshop in Marin and wine director at Prospect. Moriarty just rolled out a new nine-course menu ($150), and you can rest assured her pairings ($89) are going to rock (with selections off her newly expanded list).

May 9, 2017
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Cheers to all of this. Instagram photo via @gingerssf.

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A sneak peek at the tables (from a few weeks ago). Instagram photo via @gingerssf.

Wow, this is something I did not see coming. ~GINGER’S TROIS~ is back (does that make it Ginger’s Quatre?)! When I worked on Maiden Lane in the ’90s, I used to drink with the downtown hairdressers and the gays who worked with me at our ad agency at this quirky little dive bar on Kearny, with its strong dranks, funky little sunken bar, and parasols galore. It was a total campy hideaway. Future Bars bought and took over Ginger’s in 2008, and then opened Rickhouse in the location, and that was pretty much it for any more divey gay bars in the downtown area. Until now.

Bartender Michael Sedlacek has been with Future Bars for the past few years, and he was a little obsessed with the old Ginger’s sign in storage. He said people who haven’t been to the city in a long time would come by and ask where Ginger’s went, and even though he never went to the bar, he had an interest in it. So when Future Bars asked the team what they should do to convert the underutilized event space downstairs (Keeper’s Share), he pitched them on reopening Ginger’s. So that’s what we’ve got: a queer bar has returned to the FiDi, and almost everyone on staff is LGBT (except one person).

The cocktail menu pays homage to defunct SF gay bars, like Esta Noche and the Lexington (RIP!), and the drinks are approachable and just $9. Here’s hoping they bring the boozy cherries back. (Maybe not. LOL.) There are two wells at the bar and about 8-9 tables, plus some lounge seating and a pool table. You enter the bar on Hardie (yay, an alley entrance)—it’s actually the delivery entrance for their commissary, also downstairs. Doors open at 5pm Thu-Sat (will expand soon), until close. 86 Hardie Pl. at Kearny. [H/t to Eater for the great news.]

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The bar at Bar Agricole. Photo: Colin Price.

Your tolerance level is about to get a workout, so let’s dive in.

This coming Monday May 15th, ~BAR AGRICOLE~ is hosting their annual rum celebration, Agricolextravaganza. There will be tastes from special and rare Caribbean bottles, classic rum cocktails, and Afro-Caribbean snacks like ropa vieja empanadas and maduros (which is a sneak peek at the upcoming Obispo menu). You can also hang out and talk rum with Edward Hamilton, who knows a lot about the finest rums in the world and will be bringing some surprises. $55. 6pm-9pm.

Come by ~SCHROEDER’S~ on Saturdays for Hofbrauhaus Saturday, which is kind of like an Oktoberfest party, set to a David Hasselhoff and polka soundtrack (we’ll see how long that lasts until the staff goes crazy) and all staff will be dressed in a traditional hofbrau look. There’s a family-style menu for $29/person that includes starters (Little Gem salad, pretzel knots), bratwurst, and sides (kartoffel tots, sauerkraut, fried spaetzle, and braised red cabbage), but the entire table needs to order it. Your crew also needs to participate in the bottomless beer deal in order to get it: for an additional $29/person, your entire table can enjoy a 1 1/2-hour bottomless beer deal. You can try as many beers as you’d like from a selection of 11 of their taps, including Hofbrau Original Helles, Fort Point KSA, and Headlands Hawk Hill Hefeweizen. And anyone celebrating their birthday at Hofbrauhaus Saturday will receive a .5L of beer and a commemorative hofbrau stein to take home. Prost! 240 Front St. at Sacramento, 415-421-4778.

Beer lovers will like to know that during the month of May, you can come by ~THE RAMEN BAR~ and your first beer is just $0.25 with the purchase of an entrée after 4pm Mon-Fri. Limited to one per person, the special applies to all bottled beer and draft labels. 101 California St. at Davis, 415-684-1570.

Paul Einbund of ~THE MORRIS~ is launching a new monthly Cellar Series, and of course he’s kicking it off on Saturday May 20th with Chartreuse & Chartreuse Cocktails. As you may know, he has a deep collection and a lot to tell you about it. This workshop will be on Chartreuse and how to integrate the liqueur in cocktails. Check out future events on the site! Tickets are $75 per class, or all four classes for $275. Email to reserve. 

May 2, 2017
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The Cheshire Cat by Kate Bolton for the Mavericks menu at Lord George. Photo: Allison Webber.

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The Lord’s Platter at Lord George. Photo: © tablehopper.com.

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The Queen of Hearts by Kate Bolton for the Mavericks menu at Lord George. Photo: Allison Webber.

I know I’m not the only one missing Kate Bolton’s smiling face behind the bar at Maven as she makes you a killer cocktail (Portland, you are lucky to have her!). But there’s a second best solution happening right now at ~LORD GEORGE~ in South Park, and it’s her Alice in Wonderland-themed cocktail menu for owners Miles Palliser and Ezra Berman’s Mavericks series (their new seasonal guest bartender series). The cocktails are creative, delicious, and if you’re lucky, you’ll be sitting at Mike Zengle’s station, who will fill you in on as much as you’d like on what you’re drinking and how your cocktail was made.

I recommend starting with the Through the Looking Glass (fino sherry, amontillado sherry, dry vermouth, blanc vermouth, with housemade lavender and orange bitters), a perfect pairing with their well-shucked oysters on the half shell. You can always pony up for the Lord’s Platter, which will make everyone around you say, “Oh my Lord!” You get a three-tiered platter styled with 24 oysters, 12 Gulf prawns, and a silky tuna tartare (which is more like a tasty poke), $119. Get a group together (or just a few of you) and do it up.

The White Rabbit is another beauty to start with (Lillet blanc, yellow Chartreuse, sherry, mint, lime, egg white), and I say pair it with chef Nick Adams’s foie gras torchon. The Dee & Dum is like a mojito, with dueling rums (overproof Jamaican and Guatemalan rums), velvet falernum, grilled strawberry syrup, shaken with basil, and lime, with a torched orange. You’ll chuckle when you see the Drink Me (a “wee” bottled serving of whiskey, cherry, absinthe, and bitters), and the cherry is a reference to the cherry tart mentioned in the movie.

It’s a really well-thought-out menu, and mighty tasty. There are 11 drinks in all, and the bar will donate 50 cents of every Maverick cocktail sold to the guest bartender’s charity of choice. Sweet! Kate’s menu runs through June 30th, so don’t be late, for a very important date! 555 2nd St. at South Park, 415-660-7633. 

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Blood and Sour Fizz, paired with agedashi celery root. Photo: Wes Rowe Photography.

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Seaweed and avocado salad. Photo: Wes Rowe Photography.

Prepare thy livers, the next wave of Over Proof at ~ABV~ is starting, Double Back, and it’s going to focus on whiskey! As you may recall, ABV is rotating different concepts each quarter. For Double Back, guests will be sipping whiskeys of the world (from Scotland, Japan, and the U.S.), both straight up and in cocktails, with snacks paired to boot. The look is meant to evoke a saloon-type whisky bar in Tokyo, and chef Colin will be preparing a menu with some Japanese influences.

Double Back runs May 3rd-July 28th. Seatings will be 7pm on Wednesday and 7pm and 9pm Thu, Fri, and Sat. $60 plus tax and tip, and tickets can be found here

April 25, 2017
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Want to learn more about what’s in your glass? Good idea. Here are a few opportunities coming up, starting with The School of Booze from Anchor Distilling Company on Sunday May 7th. This day class will be at The City Club, and your ticket includes four Educational Drinking seminars to learn more about what’s in the glass, and some snacks too. You’ll get to attend Gin: A Historical & Stylistic Perspective, with Anchor Distilling’s Executive Director of Education Alan Kropf; Spirits, Before & After, with award-winning writer and bartender St. John Frizell; The Spirits of History: Woven Through Wormwood, with John Troia, owner of Tempus Fugit Spirits; and Whisk(e)y Exposed, with Andrew Friedman, founder of the Washington State Bartenders’ Guild. 1pm-4pm. Tickets are $60 (or $110 for two, with a free jar of Luxardo cherries). The City Club of San Francisco, 155 Sansome St. at Pine.

How is bourbon made? What defines the different styles of sake? What makes the wines of Bordeaux so revered? If you have wondered these questions, you may be interested in Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) Week’s open house events in San Francisco and Napa, showcasing “Grape to Grain” education experience for the “beverage curious.”

Thursday May 4th is at the Napa Valley Wine Academy CA (6pm-8pm), with an open house and alumni get-together with sparkling wines and nibbles. Mingle, meet WSET instructors and alumni, and enjoy bubbles and bites. $10 registration fee (includes nibbles and wine tasting). 2501 Oak Street, Napa.

Then on Thursday May 11th, come by the Grape Experience Wine & Spirit School (6pm-8pm) for the WSET Open House event, which will present WSET wine, spirits, and sake courses along with a tasting of some great wines using the WSET Systematic Approach to Tasting. Participants will be able to meet instructors, see materials and even sign up for an upcoming course. Book here. Holiday Inn, 1500 Van Ness Ave. at Pine.

April 18, 2017
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Cala and Amarás mezcal are hosting a series of mezcal dinners on last Mondays. Instagram photo via @calasf.

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Family Craft with Fort Point Beer and New York chefs Jeremiah Stone and Fabian Von Hauske of Contra and Wildair.

Here are some fun wine, mezcal, and beer dinners for you to check out. Coming up on Sunday April 23rd is a Palmina Wines dinner with winemaker Steve Clifton at ~RICH TABLE~. Chef Evan Rich is busting out his spin on an Italian “red sauce” menu (think roasted sweetbread picatta, Monterey squid Fra Diavolo, and eggplant Parmesan). $65 four-course menu, with optional $55 wine pairings from Palmina. Reservations are available online at OpenTable.com, or by emailing info@richtablesf.com, from 5pm-10:30pm.

~CALA~ is continuing their Monday mezcal dinners on the last Monday of each month, so the next one is this Monday April 24th. Cala and Amarás mezcal host a five-course dinner paired with a selection of mezcales led by bar manager Marsilio Gabuardi. The menu is designed specifically to pair with the unique expression of each mezcal. This month’s dinner will feature Amarás Mezcal with the opportunity to taste some of their unreleased selection of mezcales. (Mezcal Amarás reinvests 15% of their gross profits to improve ecological, economic, and social sustainability in the mezcal producing regions where the companies works.) It’s a small group, just 12 spots (tickets here). $125. 7pm-10pm.

You may want to hop on these tickets soon: on May 17th and 18th, chefs Jeremiah Stone and Fabian Von Hauske of New York’s Contra and Wildair will be joining Fort Point Beer Company in putting on a special dinner. It’s part of a national food and beer series called Family Craft, brought to you by October, a new craft beer site from Pitchfork. 6pm and 8:30pm seatings. $125 for multi-course dinner with beer pairings (tax and gratuity included). Tickets here.

April 4, 2017
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The glam bar, with just five seats. All photos: © tablehopper.com.

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The main room, with the new skylights.

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Wayfare Tavern classics like deviled eggs and prime steak tartare are on the menu.

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A peek into the private room in the former gold vault.

The historic 1907 building that houses ~WAYFARE TAVERN~ has revealed a new flourish on the fourth floor: ~THE SEQUOIA~. Former offices were converted into this upstairs bar with a vintage SF gentleman’s club feeling, complete with tables that have checkerboard and backgammon designs on them (you can also play dominoes). There’s a bar with five seats, where you can perch next to Adam “Boots” Brogan, who is the lead bartender and can tell you all about the inspiration behind The Night Owl (it’s like a cross between a Vieux Carré, Boulevardier, and Sazerac, made with rye, Cognac, Campari, Bénédictine, absinthe, sweet vermouth, and bitters, and it’s deeeeelicious).

Ken Fulk is behind the design, which includes hand-painted wallpaper in the former gold vault room that looks like malachite—there’s room for about 5 or 6 in that private little spot (and a bunch of whiskey). They also took all the plaster off the walls, revealing some beautiful brick. And they added a skylight, so if you get there after work you’ll be able to admire some beautiful skyscrapers (and natural light coming in). There are a variety of tables with bistro chairs and banquettes, plus a spacious corner booth for a large group and wingback chairs in the corner. The leopard carpet is another nice touch. Rawr. The project took about two years to complete.

You can order quite the spread of Wayfare Tavern favorites off the menu, from the tarragon-spiked deviled eggs ($14) to the much-adored prime beef tartare ($17), which comes with housemade chips. You can also enjoy seafood like oysters (be sure to check the price on those before you order, just a heads-up), shrimp cocktail ($23), and a chilled Maine lobster ($20 for half, $35 whole), or saddle up for a heartier main, including the famed Tavern burger ($22)—get an egg on that bad boy—and the fried chicken ($28), always juicy with its buttermilk brine. Here’s the menu—love the vintage design of it.

The cocktail list ($14) includes some classics, like an Aviation or the lesser-known Scofflaw, or more recent creations, like a Secret Crush (brut rosé, Campari, sugar, bitters) from New York’s Employees Only. They all feature swank touches, including elegant engraved glassware and little brass ball-tipped cocktail picks. There is a selection of wines by the glass and three beers on tap, as well.

For now, The Sequoia is open Thu-Sat only, 5pm-11pm. You can make a reservation online at thesequoia.com through Resy, and then when you arrive, take the elevator to the left of Wayfare Tavern to the fourth floor. They are renting out the 40-seat space for parties (it’s so perfect) and can fit up to 80 for a standing reception. 558 1/2 Sacramento St. at Leidesdorff.