Nathaniel Y. Downes/Special to the S.F. ExaminerHana Roschuni serves a drink at The European

Nathaniel Y. Downes/Special to the S.F. ExaminerHana Roschuni serves a drink at The European

Celebrate tequila and new and old bars in SF this week

Thursday is National Tequila Day, and Alchemist near AT&T Park is celebrating the golden age of Mexican cinema with free throwback flicks and $6 Suerte tequila cocktails.

Suerte, which means “luck” in Spanish, is in some circles the lore behind how tequila was discovered — by a rabbit. Story has it that a farmer's wife discovered that a wild rabbit was getting tipsy from eating the nectar of fermented agave.


Since I'm talking history …

A lady at the bar where I work was interested in making the leap from vodka to gin, and she wanted something that screamed summertime and refreshing. The bartender shook her up a Southside (gin, mint, sugar and lemon).

The drink has a colorful history, not the least of which is the story that during Prohibition, gangsters like Al Capone on Chicago's South Side covered up bathtub gin (which probably tasted exactly as it sounds) with the other ingredients that comprise the drink.


On a recent visit to Rock Bar near my studio in Bernal Heights, I discovered that the space has been a bar since 1902 and has changed names 18 times. That has to be a record of some sort.

Several of the names show the ups and downs of business ownership and partnerships: Frank P. Caufield (1902), Mary Caufield (1910), Tiffany Inn (1934), Tiffany Club (1942), Geo & Walt's Place (1953), Walt's Place (1955), Tiffany's Lodge (1975), Esperanza's (1996), Rock Bar (2011).

We shall see how long the latest incarnation lasts.


When in Union Square, be sure to stop at the Redwood Room at the Clift Hotel — where the walls of the low-lit, high-ceiling, devilishly sexy room were paneled with the wood of a single redwood tree.

Ask for one of their Smokin' Guava Margaritas. The salty, sweet and smoky libation lingers then leaves you salivating for another sip.

Just around the corner is the underwater-themed bar and restaurant Farallon, which hosts happy hour everyday from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Slurp a half-dozen oysters for $6 while sipping on a Hemingway Daiquiri for the same price.


The all-star trio of Ryan Fitzgerald (Beretta alum and Del Maguey Mezcal brand ambassador), Todd Smith (founding bartender of Bourbon & Branch) and Erik Reichborn-Kjennerud (owner of Dalva and Hideout) have opened ABV on 16th Street in the Mission, taking over the former Tokyo Go Go space. The two-story space has been completely remodeled. The cocktail menu is organized by spirit, with drinks $10 and under.

Ethan Terry of Alembic is leading the way in yet another Union Square opening this month. Hawthorn Bar and Lounge joins Gaspar, The European and Bartlett Hall in a surge of recently opened restaurants and bars with craft cocktails. The focus of the posh, glitzy nightclub's drink menu is to drift away from the usual and raise the bar with a modern twist on club favorites. All mixed drinks are $10 to 13.

A couple of Terry's takes include the Mucho Melon Sour (Midori Sour) made with vodka, fresh cantaloupe-jalapeño juice, lemon juice, Chareau Aloe liqueur and egg white, and the Amaretto Soiree (Amaretto Sour) with bourbon, Oloroso sherry, Luxardo amaretto and fresh lemon juice.

When you're in the club paying $15 for a vodka and Red Bull, why not get something crafty for a little less?

FeaturesFood & DrinkFood and WineNational Tequila DayRock BarSan Francisco bars

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