Mike Koozmin/The S.f. ExaminerBar owner Jon Gasparini mixes gin and bitters at a newly established commissary kitchen used to prep components for his bar service.

Mike Koozmin/The S.f. ExaminerBar owner Jon Gasparini mixes gin and bitters at a newly established commissary kitchen used to prep components for his bar service.

Commissary kitchen concept comes to SF cocktail world

When people think of a commissary kitchen, they often envision a space for caterers to prepare food for an upcoming event.

Lo and behold, the commissary space has come to the bar world in the form of spaces used to prep the components for an event's liquid libation.

For owners Greg Lindgren and Jon Gasparini of Rye, 15 Romolo, Rosewood and cocktail service Rye on the Road, a commissary space serves a variety of purposes. Potential clients can come into the flagship space in South of Market and see commercial juicers pressing out grapefruits, big blocks of ice being cut and bartenders using the space to create. And since most bars don't have the extra space to crank out the product for three bars and an on-the-go cocktail service, a commissary space is necessary.

“It's more cost-effective, it's interesting, it's delicious, noteworthy, and interesting for our guests,” Gasparini said. “When you come into our space, all that should be very transparent and evident.”

Sarah Shaw, who runs the commissary space at the bottom of Rickhouse, has to keep track of more than 100 products that include syrups, tinctures, infusions, fruit garnishes and seven seasonal bitters for Futurebars' five bars and the upcoming Devil's Acre set to open soon in North Beach.

When coconut water is on the menu, Shaw and her team are husking, cracking and draining coconuts that morning to be delivered for the evening service.

And when the weekend hits, they are juicing some 1,000 limes.

Before the commissary opened in May of last year, prep staffs were hired for each bar, which created some inconsistencies.

“Now we've consolidated everything, which is great knowing that I'm a little neurotic when it comes to consistency” Shaw said. “With the commissary, we can keep up with a consistent product and volume.”

At Alta in Mid-Market, bar manager Ashley Miller is even going as far as to replicate the green and yellow alcohol Chartreuse, the recipe for which is a highly guarded secret. Since accepting her role with the Daniel Patterson Group, Miller's bar stock must match the Michelin standards of sister restaurant Coi in North Beach.

When you step into Alta, you will see that almost no major liquor brands are used to create the cocktails. They make their own version of Campari edged with chamomile. Their own Chartreuse. Their own orange liqueur, that takes the place of Cointreau and Curacao.

“There are a bunch of things we've been experimenting with, and that's where the dedicated space at Plum Bar is needed,” Miller said. “We don't have any of that space here at Alta, so even trying to think of having 50 ingredients out at the same time while you're trying to make two different types of bitters, and this and that, syrups and a cordial is mind boggling.”

I stopped by one afternoon to speak with Miller, who poured me a shallow puddle of her version of green Chartreuse, which wasn't meant to mimic it exactly but has a similarly rich spice and herbal depth that the Carthusian monks of France have been guarding for nearly 300 years.

The only secret she would reveal is that they colored the green chartreuse with a case of spinach. This type of experimentation could only be done through a dedicated commissary space in Oakland to work on such projects.

The elevated production of elevated drinking.

bar commissarycommissaryFeaturesFood & DrinkFood and WineSan Francisco bars

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Giants second baseman Donovan Solano scores on a double in the seventh inning against the Dodgers at Oracle Park on July 29. (Chris Victorio/Special to The Examiner)
Will the Giants make the playoffs? Kris Bryant may be the answer

By Chris Haft Special to The Examiner You’d be hard-pressed to find… Continue reading

Tiffany Carter, owner of Boug Cali West Coast Creole Shack in San Francisco’s La Cocina Marketplace, was dismayed by gentrification she found when she returned to her hometown to start a business. (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
SF Black Wallstreet: Helping residents build wealth, reclaim spaces they’ve had to leave

Tiffany Carter moved back to her hometown of San Francisco five years… Continue reading

A prescribed fire at Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks was conducted in June 2016 to reduce hazardous fuel loading, increase watershed health, and restore the natural fire cycle in the Redwood Canyon area ecosystem. (Photo courtesy Rebecca Paterson/National Park Service)
Experts, UC scientists discuss wildfires in the state’s riskiest regions

Wildfires are nothing new in California’s history, but the magnitude and frequencies… Continue reading

Fourth-grade students at Lucerne Valley Elementary School don masks and Western wear for a “Walk Through California” history day during in-person instruction. (Courtesy of Krystal Nelson)
Confusion over mask mandate for California schools sparks tension between districts and parents

By Diana Lambert EdSource Shifting rules around mask mandates at schools are… Continue reading

In his extensive filming of The City during the pandemic, Eric Goodfield said he has been “observing how the environment affects the behavior of people.” (Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)
Filmmaker Eric Goodfield fixes lens on SF’s COVID days

140 days of shooting in The City made for ‘greatest adventure’

Most Read