Marlena's Now Transformed Into Brass Tacks


The interior at Brass Tacks. Photo: Dana Massey-Todd. ©

A report by Dana Massey-Todd. As previously reported on tablehhopper, beloved gay bar ~MARLENA’S~ is no more and in its place is ~BRASS TACKS~. Marlena’s owner Garry “Marlena” McLain has retired after 23 years and the place has been reopened by Matt Conway (of Comstock and Absinthe), Anthony Healy-London (Churchill, Bloodhound, and Double Dutch), and Josh McAdam. The first question on everyone’s lips, of course, is how will the quirky and fabulous spirit of Marlena’s live on? The answer seems to be in Marlena herself; McLain was seated at the bar having a grand old time the evening I stopped in during the friends and family opening. McLain was adamant that he wants the new crew to be successful, and has every intention of enjoying at least part of his retirement on the stools at Brass Tacks. For a great tribute to the bar and its fabulous patrons, check out the audio documentary Marlena’s Curtain Call from KALW right here.

So since that’s out of the way, let’s talk drinks, shall we? You’ll find a well-crafted list of cocktails, many with classic film-inspired names, like the Il Buono, Il Brutto, Il Cattivo (that’s mezcal, Averna, cacao, and hellfire bitters) or the To Wong Fu (brandy, Cocchi Americano, pamplemousse, lemon, Smith & Cross). Take a peek at the menu here. Ingredients will change seasonally, like the fruit syrups and other garnishes, while other cocktails might be swapped out according to the time of year. It’s not all fancy cocktails either; there are eight beers on tap and four wine taps. Opening beer choices include Brekle’s Brown from Anchor, Nitro Stout from Drake’s, and Stone IPA; selections will change frequently. For now, only three wine taps are up and running but the fourth will be added shortly. They’ve currently got a red (Vinum Red Dirt from Paso Robles), a white (Vinum White Elephant from Napa), and a rosé (Cultivar Rosé from Napa), and all glasses clock in at a wallet-friendly $8.

The newly revamped space has a long walnut bar, with beautifully chevroned floors and a sexy chandelier that bears a resemblance to ice in a cocktail glass. In the back area is some lounge-style seating for groups, and in front you can snag a stool at the large window that opens to the street outside for prime people watching on a nice day; it’s Marlena’s favorite perch. Hours are 2pm-2am Mon-Fri and 12pm-2am Sat-Sun. 488 A Hayes St. at Octavia.