It’s easy to miss this bar, tucked off the hallway entrance to Foreign Cinema, which is known for the classic films it projects on a wall in the restaurant’s courtyard. It has the look and feel of a neighborhood bar, a striking contrast to the elegant dining room down the hall. Russian propaganda posters and skateboards line the walls. There’s a cozy loft upstairs and nightly DJs. Bar manager Bryan Ranere, who’s been there since Foreign Cinema opened in 1999, was brought in because of his filmmaking and bartending background. Laszlo Bar, 2526 Mission St., San Francisco, (415) 401-0810, www.laszlobar.com
What was the inspiration for this drink? The owner has a fetishistic relationship with Russian Cold War accoutrement. We were changing the cocktail menu, and he wanted a Russia-themed cocktail. The vodka is neutral so the ginger shines through.
Where did the Laszlo name come from? In one of Fellini’s films he checked into a hotel using the name Laszlo. There was also a famous Hungarian cinematographer, Laszlo Kovacs. And French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo once played a character named Laszlo.
What’s the crowd atmosphere like here? The thing I like about Laszlo is the clientele is so diverse. Foreign Cinema has its own life, but we’re connected by that transformative hallway. We are in the Mission, and I want people to be able to get $4 beers and $6 cocktails. Iwant people to be able to walk in off Mission Street and feel comfortable. It’s really important to me that it’s a neighborhood bar. We get a lot of industry devotees, a lot of bartenders, neighborhood locals. People from L.A., New York, Europeans.
What other kinds of work have you done? I’m a filmmaker. I’m working on a documentary celebrating the 12th anniversary of Foreign Cinema, and I interviewed Alice Waters and Adam Savage of “Mythbusters,” who’s a regular. I worked in the film industry and made three short films, but it’s a very frustrating process. I didn’t really want to live in L.A., and I knew the guys who were opening Foreign Cinema. They said, “You’re a filmmaker and a bartender, you’ve got to work here.”
What are the advantages of working here? It’s great to come to work, see great cinema, ply your trade, make money and have fun. I pick what films will be shown, and we also have special screenings. We showed “The Way We Were” with Barbra Streisand and Robert Redford on Valentine’s Day. We have a film projector and a projectionist like in the movies. We show actual 35-millimeter prints, which are becoming harder to come by.
What bars do you like? Tosca because it’s a classic. Locanda in the Mission. Iron & Gold in Bernal Heights.
n ½ oz. Canton ginger liquor
n 2 oz. Stolichnaya vodka
n Juice of ½ lemon
n Peychaud’s bitters
Shake with ice in cocktail shaker. Strain into rocks glass filled with crushed ice. Float with Peychaud’s bitters. Garnish with lemon peel.What’s the history of this place? It’s been a shoe store and a taqueria. At first, we thought people would come for the movies, then it evolved into a food destination. Dining under the stars, art on the walls, the ambience is pretty eclectic.