About the series: 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.
The Irish Bank
10 Mark Lane, (415) 788-7152
The Irish Bank Sure, he’s good-looking and a bit of a charmer, but what we loved about bartender Daragh Sandford was his forthright personality — so much so that we wanted to rename him Frank. The 28-year-old hails from Dublin, Ireland, and is an international student studying broadcasting at San Francisco State.
How long have you been bartending at Irish Bank? One and a half years. I’ve been in the States four and a half years.
So what brought you out here? I fell in love with an American girl and I followed her out here. I followed love.
How long have you been bartending overall? For 12 years; since I was 16 years old.
How’d you fall into it? I was washing dishes at a restaurant in Dublin and the chefs got too lazy to pour their own drinks, so I started doing it for them.
What is your signature cocktail? I’m a bit of a tequila freak. I make a really good margarita with 100 percent agave tequila, Grand Marnier and a little secret ingredient.
When you aren’t making drinks, what are you drinking? Whiskey or American bourbon, such as 16-year-old [A.H.] Hirsch bourbon. We sell it here in the bar. Or a good local brew, Lagunitas IPA. Liberty Ale is fantastic.
What’s the strangest proposition you’ve received while bartending? “Can I have sex with your girlfriend?” And she’d never even met her.
Your biggest pet peeve? People who don’t tip. End of story. Tip. A please and a thank you maybe. It makes our job so much easier.
The drink you serve most? Besides Guinness, a million Irish coffees. We have the best in The City. We make them in a particular way and it’s a pretty heavy pour.
That’s funny, because we were just at the Buena Vista Café and they say they make the best Irish coffee. The problem with the Buena Vista is the portions. The size is smaller so there is less whiskey and the coffee is weak. We use Caffe Trieste so ours is super strong.
Have you seen any good bar fights? Not here, at other places. Like the bar in Prague [where Sandford used to work]. There was this big Englishman, Ashley, who used to come around. Well, these four or five Marines from Germany come into the bar and they get into it. Ashley, he beats the s— out of all of them. The Marines! We manage to get him out of the bar at 2:15 a.m. and there are 10 Marines out there waiting for him. The Brit managed to hold his own, but I’ve seen one or two teeth and lots of busted noses.
What’s the difference between American customers and Irish customers? American customers laugh at my jokes a bit more. The Irish are dryer and dirtier. It’s all in jest, but it’s still there. But then American customers can be more polite.
Has anyone told you their life story over drinks? I had a guy in his 40s who had to break up with a 25-year-old girl. You don’t want to say anything, so you just buy him a drink and listen to his crap for the next hour or so or until he’s too drunk to talk.
Have you told anyone your life story over drinks? Oh, no. I just lie through my teeth. Never let the truth get in the way of a good story. People hear what they wanna hear.
» 4 count of Knappogue Castle Whiskey
» Dash of the bitters (not too much because the whiskey is not old)
» A little sweet vermouth (not too much)
» A little cherry for color, splash of maraschino juice.
Shake (not too much). Pour into chilled glass.