This Union Street spot in Cow Hollow has housed many bars over the years and might be best known as the longtime home of Tarr & Feathers, which was famed for its daily live performances. In fact, bartender Zach Taylor says the current owners considered resurrecting the name in homage to the popular music venue. But they carried on the musical theme by naming it after The Clash’s “The Guns of Brixton” since one of the owners is a fan of the English punk-rockers. Clash posters also line the walls, and a newly added fireplace gives the bar a homey feel. Outside tables and the big glass windows opening onto the sidewalk give Brixton a European cafe feel. The crowd is mostly young locals, with the occasional U.K. tourist who’s drawn in by the name, which is a London neighborhood known for its lively club and music scene.
BAR info: 2140 Union St. • (415) 409-1114 • www.brixtonsf.com
How did you become a bartender? I’ve always had a predilection for trying different drinks. I was working with my brother at a restaurant bussing tables, and they encouraged me to become a bartender. I started as a barback, which is the best way to learn. I’ve been bartending six years and also worked at Palomino, Bocanova and Skates on the Bay.
What’s the history of this place, and how did the owners come up with the name? Owner Andy Wasserman is a huge Clash fan and loves one of their songs, “The Guns of Brixton.” It’s also the name of an area near southern London that’s famous for its music. It was almost named Tarr & Feathers in homage to the bar that used to be here, which was famous for its live music.
What bars do you like? Elixir and Beretta in the Mission. Smuggler’s Cove, where you get immersed in that whole tiki environment; you can get a drink easily and they do well-crafted cocktails. AQ because it changes the decor and menu based on the season.
What makes a good bartender? I like trying a little bit of everything; experience and knowledge allows me to try different things so I can apply it to my own drinks. I like to experiment as much as possible. Like the Mezcal Mule, a simple, fun drink I make with mezcal, lime juice and ginger beer.
What do you like about bartending? Just the experience of enabling people to have a good time, providing good service. Everybody comes in looking for something different. The drink menu is pretty diverse and accessible with a lot of handcrafted ingredients.
What has been your most memorable experience? A lady came in who had just finished chemotherapy treatment. She was absolutely miserable and complained about the horrible taste it left in her mouth, so I made her a margarita with a particular tequila she liked. She really enjoyed it, and her mood gradually got better and better. As a tip, she left me a shiny penny with a picture of Jerry Lewis on top, which she said was the mark of exceptional service. I was working on a new drink which I named the Shiny Penny, after her. I’ve also gotten $100 tips, but hers was the best.
Drink Special: Noble Apple
½ oz. Cyrus Noble bourbon
½ oz. Aperol
¾ oz. Schönauer Apfel schnapps
¼ oz. lemon juice
Shake ingredients together in cocktail shaker. Strain into martini glass. Garnish with orange peel.