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Cocktails at Mars Bar surprisingly down to earth

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Mars Bar & Restaurant: Earthlings beware. Mars Bar & Restaurant may be named after the Red Planet, but don’t go in expecting the “Star Trek” experience. Despite its totally space-age name, Mars Bar is bereft of any Martian theme, focusing instead on its less geeky attributes, such as a sweet patio, a rotating cast of DJs and a snazzy lunch menu. We happened to be out and about on our lunch hour, so we sidled up to bartender Chris James, who has been serving drinks at Mars for four years. When he’s not behind the bar, he stands in front of a band, playing guitar and singing slick rock melodies. Maybe you’ve caught him and the rest of Small Change Romeos at Slim’s or the Boom Boom Room — word on the street is they’re out of this world. 798 Brannan St., S.F.; (415) 621-6277, www.marsbarsf.com

Where are you from? Originally, I am from Portland, Maine.

What brought you out to the Bay Area? Chasing a dream I guess, still trying to find it. No, I’m a musician, actually, so I came out here to start a band.

Are you still in a band? I am. It’s called Small Change Romeos.

How’d you get into bartending? I just kind of fell into it, really. I started cracking crab down at Fisherman’s Wharf. That was the job I kind of had waiting for me when I moved out. That was part of the reason why I moved out here. It wasn’t a glamorous job, but I had a job. What ended up happening is I just started to move up through the restaurant.

If you could serve a drink to anyone, who would it be? It would have to be like a John Lennon kind of guy, or maybe Springsteen.

Any Bay Area musicians? Bonnie Raitt. I’d love to meet her.

What are three things you can’t live without? My family, my guitar and my computer.

What do you typically order if you are going to have a cocktail? A manhattan with Knob Creek. Or a scotch.

Do you have any Martian-themed drinks here? No. We actually try to stay away from the Martian connection.

What are you doing for Halloween? Taking the kids trick-or-treating.

What are their Halloween costumes? My son’s a cowboy, he’s 2½. My daughter will change her mind five times before she actually decides on something.

What’s the scariest drink you’ve ever made? I used to do this drink called the green goblin. I think the major ingredient was green Chartreuse. So it was pretty scary. It was a dare to drink.

What’s the most bizarre drink you’ve ever made? You know what one comes to mind, and I would have never thought to make it … somebody asked me for a London fog. Check this out: It’s kind of like a snakebite, but it’s lemonade on the bottom and Guinness on the top.

Did you try it? I did. It was pretty gross. But he had three or four, so it worked out.


The Red Delicious

– 1/2 shot of Calvados brandy or apple brandy
– 1/2 shot of Berentzen apple schnapps

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