It’s not that we have anything against restaurants that win James Beard awards and the average entrée costs $35. Our only complaint is the general stuffiness blanketing the bars of most fine-dining establishments. So it was utterly refreshing to have a seat at Jardinière’s elegant bar and have an overwhelmingly relaxed and congenial experience. Bay Area native Andrea Campos was our mixing mistress for the evening. She whet our appetite with two outstanding cocktails: a spicy-sweet Daiquiri de Mole and a killer concoction called the Jasmine. She also spoiled us with a few selections from the menu.
300 Grove St., San Francisco, (415) 861-5555, www.jardiniere.com
What are this bar’s top three requested cocktails? Cosmopolitans, Lemon Drops and Margaritas (aside from the traditional Martini).
What drink do you make the least? Death in the Afternoon. It’s some sort of Pastis and champagne beverage. Good for hangovers.
And what drink do you order most? It depends where I’m at; if it’s pre-dinner, post-dinner, hot or cold outside.
What’s a good pre-dinner cocktail? French 75s [gin, champagne, lemon juice, sugar]. They are bubbly, light andrefreshing and served in a pretty flute.
What about after-dinner? If it’s wintertime, a Manhattan or a Sazerac.
And on a warm day? I’m easy. A Campari and soda.
So what’s up with the new “lounge”? It’s settees and couches, and has a menu that’s finger-food friendly; things you can eat without a fork and knife.
What are your favorite things on that menu? The duck confit salad with the candied kumquats and dry-cured olives. That and the Maine Diver Scallops … until I became allergic to them.
Did you find that out the hard way? Unfortunately. We have a couple from Florida who flies out just for them.
OK, so I see Aaron Peskin over there, this bar must get its fair share of high-profile people. We get a lot of local celebrities. Willie Brown; Tom Ammiano is a frequent flyer here. Tom Sinkovitz and Pam Moore, although we don’t see Tom as much as we used to. Robin Williams loves us.
Who was the most exciting celebrity you served? Francis Ford Coppola. That was exciting and so unexpected.
What’s the cheese cave all about? It’s temperature and humidity controlled. You need a VIP pass to go back there. We want to keep as little people back there as possible. [The cave] is very near and dear to Traci’s heart.
Speaking of Traci Des Jardin, does the name of the restaurant mean garden, or is it a play on her name? It does mean garden and speaks to the seasonality and freshness of her menu. It’s also a play on her name.
Featured drink: Jasmine
» 1.5 ounces Hendrick’s gin
» ½ ounce Campari
» ¾ ounce lemon juice
Add ice and shake. Pour into a tumbler glass and garnish with a lemon twist.