San Francisco hardly had a dearth of great cocktail bars, but Bar Agricole still managed to generate more than a year of sustained excitement leading up to its SoMa opening. Bartender and owner Thad Vogler, previously of Heaven’s Dog, and Eric Johnson, previously with bars like Bourbon & Bourbon and Beretta, are the bar’s cornerstones.
The space is eco-conscious to the max, with an interesting design that includes a stylish photo-backed bar, chandeliers crafted from a series of glimmering tubes and an outdoor courtyard ringed with what will soon house a compelling edible garden. If Bar Agricole could achieve uranium level LEED certification for their building practices, they might, but since that designation doesn’t exist, they’ll probably have to settle for platinum status.
During my visit, Vogler was humble, referring to Bar Agricole’s drinks “old cocktails from old books.” Maybe so, but they’re crafted using impeccably sourced base spirits and in Vogler’s hands, achieved near ideal balance. The cocktails are all reasonably priced at $9 and judiciously portioned, both factors that limit drunkenness and encourage variety.
- ROUND ONE
Since the name Agricole refers to rums made using pure sugarcane juice, as opposed to molasses, my first cocktail was the Rhum Punch with aged agricole, lemon, cane and aromatic bitters. This was one of the few times that the drinks weren’t the focus, since I was catching up with old friends, so there are no detailed notes, but the overall impression of each cocktail was positive.
- ROUND TWO
If you don’t like or want cocktails, Bar Agricole also offers some interesting beers, including Ichtagems red ale and Gageleer “Bog” ale, brewed with a bitter European herb. Tempting seasonal dishes from chef Brandon Jew included grilled sardines & avocado, corn pudding with ham and a plum & pluot tart. If we didn’t just finish a multi-course meal at Zero Zero, those dishes would have ended up in front of us. Longtime Slanted Door sommelier Mark Ellenbogen assembled the wine list. A couple hours isn’t nearly enough to capture the essence of Bar Agricole, but it was long enough to realize that I will return many times to further explore every facet.