Stuart Chase, 31, of San Francisco’s Sugar Lounge, has been bartending at the sumptuously sweet Sugar Lounge in Hayes Valley for four months and has been in the biz since he was 17 years old. Sugar Lounge earns rightful edge over the competition with its sweet selection of flavored sugars that garnish the rims of most of its martini glasses. Balancing out all that sweetness is a very nice assortment of savory Asian edibles that made us less apt to need to rush out to dinner, meaning we could kick backon one of its swank couches and act like a kid in a candy shop.
Sugar Lounge: 377 Hayes St., (415) 255-7144
Where are you from? Huntington Beach.
What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen while working at Sugar? Well, there was this 7-foot guy, a really skinny, tall guy. And he was acting like a robot for most of the night, inside the bar. And then outside, he got this 4-foot girl and just got her on his shoulders and started spinning her around. We thought she was going to fall off, but she didn’t.
What’s the saddest thing you’ve seen while working at this bar? I’ve seen breakups. It’s hard, especially when the girl starts crying. You have to be impartial in that situation.
How do you know when to approach them? I’ll give them a little bit of space, or I’ll wait for them to ask for a drink.
What’s the drink you’ve been making lately? I’ve been making a lot of cucumber martinis and cantaloupe martinis.
What’s the drink you’ve been drinking lately? I’m just a beer-and-tequila guy. I’m not into froufrou drinks.
What do you think about Gavin Newsom in rehab? No comment.
What have you learned about people since working in a bar? That most people are good. The quicker you are, the happier everyone’s going to be.
What’s your biggest pet peeve? When someone orders a drink and then they walk away, especially if you’re busy.
Has anyone ever told you your life story over drinks? Every bar you work at there is always a couple of regulars who will give your life story. [At Sugar Lounge] there’s a gentleman named Dr. H. He is a very eccentric, but lovable man and he has a collie dog, it’s like his partner in life. And he makes his way around the bars in San Francisco and he was a bartender, too, once. He’s staying in an hotel in the Marina, and he hates the Marina, but he’s looking for an apartment. He’s been looking for an apartment for a year.
Have you ever seen a really cool fight while working? I saw a bad one at Knuckles in the Hyatt at SFO. And actually, a cue stick came out!
What’s your drink of choice? Chimay Red.
Who makes the best drink, you or someone else? Tabitha, another bartender here, she’s my wife.
» 3 oz. of Absolut Mandarin vodka
» Splash of lime
» 1 count of Cointreau
» Top off with pomegranate juice
Shake it like a Polaroid picture and serve straight up in a sugar-rimmed martini glass.
In a saloon town such as San Francisco, the bartender plays a crucial role. Confessor, friend, sounding board — the man or woman behind the plank sees to it that our needs are met with elegance, grace and often wit. They see humanity at its best and most convivial, but also offer a nod and a welcome to the lonely. But what do they see when they look at us? What are the tricks of their trade? And what lessons have they learned along the way? In this new Examiner weekly feature, we talk to some of our local bartenders to find out.
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