A report by Dana Eastland. As previously mentioned on tablehopper, Jeff Lyon and Phil West (both of Range) are opening a new bar in the former Retox space in Dogpatch called THIRD RAIL. The name comes from a cocktail Lyon created at Range and was a working name for the place, until they realized they liked it and it fit well with the neighborhood’s history (and present) as a hub of transportation and shipping generally, and train travel specifically.
We got a sneak peek of the bar’s design—courtesy of the folks at Paxton Gate Design/Build, who also did Flour + Water, Central Kitchen, and Le Marais Bakery—at a preview party, and it carries the transportation motif as well. The space is long and a bit narrow (ahem, like a railcar), and banquettes are being installed to mimic the feel of train compartments. A large clock and Art Deco arches (inspired by the Golden Gate Bridge) over the bar also echo the transit vibe. The location won’t be opening until December, so the space is still pretty raw: seating still needs to be installed, and most of the furniture is yet to arrive.
That said, the cocktail menu was ready for sampling. The goal is to offer quality cocktails, but in a setting where a beer or a vodka tonic is also available. To that end, four beers will be available on tap, along with three red wines and a white. As for the cocktail list, it’s divided into four sections: seasonal, citrus, aperitif, and spiritous. The categories are intended to be approachable, so someone without much knowledge of craft cocktail culture would still find it easy to order something they like.
In the spiritous department, look for Don Draper-approved offerings, including the Ol’ 55 (Laird’s applejack, oloroso sherry, Amaro Nonino, orange bitters), which is satisfyingly boozy and warming. The namesake Third Rail falls in the citrus category, and is made with Buffalo Trace bourbon, Lillet, honey, lemon, orange bitters, and it’s rather light for a bourbon-based beverage. For a look at all the drinks, check out the cocktail list here. The bar doesn’t have a kitchen, but in lieu of traditional bar snacks like nuts, olives, and cheese, they’ll be offering jerky by the ounce. You’ll find multiple flavors of beef jerky on offer, plus a vegetarian version made with trumpet mushrooms—the details are still being worked out. The opening is planned for December, but an exact date hasn’t been announced yet. Once open, hours will be 3pm-2am daily. 628 20th St. at 3rd St., 415-252-7966.