I recently asked eight of San Francisco’s top bartenders one simple question: “Where and what do you like to drink when you’re not at work?” Their responses may surprise you.
Brooke Arthur (Prospect)
Honestly, a big glass of white wine or a home made Brooklyn cocktail out of my home bar is what I crave the most.
Joel Teitelbaum (Zero Zero Bar Manager)
I really like to split up my cocktails these days between friends houses and the bars they work in. Everyone keeps the good stuff at home and makes cocktails from spirits that you don’t get when you’re out…Suze, Amer Picon (the real Amer Picon not the stuff from Torani). Ever had a Brooklyn Cocktail with the real Amer Picon? Simply divine. When I go out I like places that are doing seasonal and creative ingredients with spirits that also serve up some good food. SF has a bunch of places that make great cocktails and great food. Alembic has great bourbon, spot on classic cocktails and pickled quail eggs! Prospect has amazing cocktails and the food to match. Comstock Saloon in North Beach is awesome on both fronts as well. And of course NOPA for something cheeky and a burger at 1 am isn’t bad either.
Jason LoGrasso, aka Buffalo @ Cotogna
One of my favorite places in SF to unwind at the moment is Bloodhound. They have a really well thought spirits selection and rotating tap handles with local and imported goodies, which are served in chilled mason jars. (Awesome). They don’t take themselves too seriously, (ie, no 17 page cocktail menu) so deciding on a pickle jar of ale and a whiskey is all the thinking that I have to do. Here’s the kicker; there is often a high end food truck right outside the door or just down the block.
Another perennial favorite of mine, this time of year has to be, Kezar Pub in the Haight. There is a fireplace that cuts the freeze and fog, and about 300 televisions ( a few of which are usually East Coast hockey friendly for me). This is kind of a “Sporty” bar so its mostly about the ice cold draft beers and fried things.
Erick Castro (West Coast Brand Ambassador at Beefeater & Plymouth Gin)
My favorite places to drink, a couple favorite bars under the radar, I love Laszlo, it’s a killer bar out here in San Francisco for brunch. Jill used to work at Bourbon & Branch back in the day, but most people don’t know it. She makes amazing Bloody Marys and French 75s, but a lot of people don’t know she’s classically trained. She’s got a killer whiskey and tequila selection. She can make you anything you want, but if you’re there for a beer and a shot to work off the hangover from the night befoore, you’re in heaven.
Another really cool bar in town is called The Page, it’s over on Divis. It’s a little local dive. They have foosball and pool tables, and the owner’s into whiskey, so they have a killer whiskey selection. They have Pappy 12 year for $8.
When I’m at home, it tends to be beer and wines. I make cocktails every now and then, but I’m a wine lover. I’ve been getting into South American wines, because it seems like you can get a lot of wines from Argentina that are inexpensive and high quality.
Scott Beattie (Spoonbar – Healdsburg)
When I’m in Healdsburg, there’ a bar called the B&B, and another bar called John & Zeke’s. I usually drink Fernet Branca and Trumer Pilsner.
[In San Franicsco] I usually go to the better cocktail bars: Bourbon & Branch, Cantina, 15 Romolo and Rye. Those are probably my favorites. When I go to those places, whatever the bartender feels like making, I’ll drink it.
My favorite place to drink is probably Alembic. Great spirits selection, great cocktails, very good food. Nowhere else in the city can you get all three AND be listening to the Misfits, Nation of Ulysses or Pussy Galore.
I also like 15 Romolo (great cocktails), Zeitgeist (the yard! – duh), Bloodhound (Big Buck Hunter!) and my neighborhood hole, Minibar.
Daniel Hyatt (Alembic)
When I’m not working, you’d probably find me with a whiskey on ice at Thieves Tavern or the Phonebooth in the Mission.
Neyah White (Yamazaki Brand Ambassador)
The beer and shot combos at Comstock Saloon fix my wagon just fine.
This is the second in a series of “Off Duty Drinking” posts with bartenders and chefs.