The Lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
June 26, 2018
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You can come in for a crash landing at the bar at Last Rites. Photo courtesy of Last Rites.

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Custom cocktail glassware at Last Rites. Photo courtesy of Last Rites.

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A selection of dishes and drinks at the new Curio. Photo: Hardy Wilson.

Newly open in the former The Residence is ~LAST RITES~, a Polynesian Noir hideaway from High Proof’s Justin Lew and Ian Scalzo (Horsefeather). Interior designer James Lagoc (Nopa, Bi-Rite, Horsefeather), designer-builder Brian Sullivan, and graphic designer-owner Justin Lew went to town on transforming the location so you feel like you are marooned in a tropical jungle (the bar is set in a repurposed airplane fuselage), replete with vintage plane jump seats at the bar, nine-foot stone idols, faux boulders, parachute fabric, and lots of foliage. You can totally live out your Indiana Jones fantasy here.

Tropical-inspired cocktails from Ian Scalzo and Forbidden Island alums Susan Eggette and Sevan Araneda are served in hand-cut repurposed bottles. There are more than 150 rums, and classics like a mai tai and large-format Fogcutter. And then there’s The Legend of Xtabay (pronounced eesh-ta-bai), with buttered popcorn rum, coconut cream, lemon, apricot liqueur, cocoa nib bitters, and pepper tincture, honoring the Mayan myth of a female demon who seduces men only to devour them. Seems like a good cocktail for our current times. Open daily 6pm-2am. 718 14th St. at Church, 707-825-1100.

An even darker concept is ~CURIO~, newly opened in the former Vestry space adjacent to The Chapel in the Mission, with designer Michael Brennan taking some inspiration from the building’s past history as a mortuary (from stopped clocks to skulls).

There are craft cocktails from Darren Crawford (Bourbon and Branch) and an extensive menu from Mario Tolentino (The Market, Betelnut), spanning a California sensibility plus Southern/Low Country cuisine. You’ll find the Shut the Front Door shellfish tower, a Holy Grail burger, and fried chicken Benedict and shrimp and grits on the weekend for brunch (plus there’s the outdoor courtyard). Dinner Sun-Thu 5pm-10pm and Fri-Sat 5pm-11pm, brunch Sat-San 10am-3pm, and a bar menu 3pm-5pm until dinner kicks in. The Courtyard is open until midnight, while the Afterlife Bar remains open later. 775 Valencia St. at 19th St., 415-551-7306.

In the coming soon department, it looks like Future Bars (Bourbon and Branch, Tradition, Rickhouse, among many other bars) is taking over the former Gitane (which is moving to a nearby location adjacent to the Galleria Park Hotel). No details on their plans just yet. 6 Claude Lane/239 Kearny St. at Bush

A reader let me know that it looks like the former ~TONIC~ (2360 Polk St.) has found a new location: the former SF Coin Laundry space at 895 Post St. (at Hyde) in Lower Nob Hill. ABC transfer documentation confirms it, and it sounds like they are targeting fall.

June 12, 2018
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The Alembic reopens, now with some books to accompany the new menu of cocktails. Photo courtesy of The Alembic.

Some brighter news over at ~THE ALEMBIC~, after we have all been reeling from the unexpected death of barman extraordinaire Daniel Hyatt (you can read my homage to him), who helped establish the bar’s reputation for being a place for brilliant cocktails when it opened 12 years ago.

The new owners, Mikha Diaz (previously Two Sisters Bar and Books in Hayes Valley) and Christin Evans (Booksmith, The Bindery), are the third generation of owners and have reopened the doors after six weeks of giving the space a refresh. Bar manager Kathryn Kulczyk (previously Two Sisters) is joined by their new chef, Dillon Barry (previously Johnson’s Saltbox), while Branden Cardelli (Two Sisters) is overseeing the beer program and operations.

The cocktail menu features house cocktails and seasonal cocktails (an homage to the menu’s past style), and they have Daniel Hyatt’s trademark Southern Exposure on there too (nicely done). You can look at the food menu here, and yes, the duck hearts remain, with some new, casual additions too.

And true to the original Two Sisters concept, the enjoyment of cocktails and books in the space is encouraged—there will be books for browsing and for sale, selected by The Booksmith’s awesome staff. 1725 Haight St. at Cole.

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The chic and new Verve Wine in Pacific Heights. Photo: Aaron Leitz.

Newly open in Pacific Heights is ~VERVE WINE~, a West Coast location of a Tribeca (New York) wine shop from Master Sommelier Dustin Wilson (Eleven Madison Park, RN74, and you may have seen him in Somm), wine merchant Derrick Mize, and sommelier Eric Railsback. Look for 500 labels from small producers, natural/non-manipulated wines, and New Californian and old-world wines too, plus access to their larger online inventory of 3,000 labels, which you can have shipped directly to your home. The experience is designed to appeal to all levels of wine drinkers, from beginner to cork dork. Open Mon-Sat 11am-9pm and Sun 12pm-6pm. 2358 Fillmore St. at Washington.

Coming up on Sunday July 15th is WINeFare: Women in Natural Wine Fair from The Vinguard, celebrating the many contributions women have made to the natural wine movement. Take a look at the lineup (including Donkey & Goat, Minimo, and Floraison Selections). There is also a charitable component to the event, with most of the proceeds benefiting the women and children of Soufra, a documentary film that follows the journey of Palestinian women from a Lebanese refugee camp who went on to start a catering business and food truck in Beirut. There will be a screening of the film at 12pm before the tasting begins for attendees who wish to purchase a ticket to the film. Any donations of more than $40 also get the cookbook, Soufra: Recipes from a Refugee Food Truck. The wine tasting is 2pm-5pm.

Ticket purchases and donations are tax deductible for this event. Tasting only: $30; tasting and film screening: $40; tasting, film and Soufra cookbook: $75. The Great Northern, 119 Utah St. at 15th St.

And up in Napa on Saturday July 28th is Bâtonnage, a daylong forum from founder Stevie Stacionis of Oakland’s Bay Grape wine shop, designed to open up the conversation surrounding women and wine, whether you’re a wine professional, consumer, and/or wine industry supporter. There’s an incredible lineup of participants, panels, and more, so check it out.