About the series: In a saloon town such as San Francisco, the bartender plays a crucial role. Confessor, friend, sounding board — the man or woman behind the plank sees to it that our needs are met with elegance, grace and often wit. They see humanity at its best and most convivial, but also offer a nod and a welcome to the lonely. But what do they see when they look at us? What are the tricks of their trade? And what lessons have they learned along the way? In this Examiner weekly feature, we talk to some of our local bartenders to find out.
Annie’s Social Club
917 Folsom St., San Francisco, CA 94107
(415) 974-1585, www.anniesocialclub.com
Annie Whiteside, owner and mistress of Annie’s Social Club, is a San Francisco native and the brilliant mind behind the bar’s famous Punk Rock and Schlock Karaoke (though she gives credit of course to Spike Slawson of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes). But don’t let her rocker exterior fool you — she may look like like she spent her early 20s living and breathing London’s notorious punk scene (because she did), but within minutes of chatting, it’s clear Annie’s warmer than fresh chocolate chip cookies. She’s been helping San Francisco’s live music scene thrive by booking local bands nearly every night of the week. We even heard a rumor that Paris and Nicky Hilton once starred in a music video filmed at her bar! But don’t expect her to talk about it — unless you want your drink thrown at you.
How long have you been bartending? I’ve been in the bar business, well, I don’t want to give away my age, but over 20 years, closer to 30 years … but I’m only 26.
When was your first gig? When I was 7 years old. My grandfather was very good friends with Mo Howard of the Three Stooges. It was Thanksgiving and Mo threw me behind the bar. At that moment I decided this was my calling.
OK, what was your first paid gig? At the Matador on Broadway. I’ve also worked at the Paradise Lounge, Slim’s, Hotel Utah.
All right, word on the street is you have punk-rock karaoke here. Spike [Slawson] of Me First and the Gimme Gimmes had a party at the bar and wanted to have karaoke, and that’s just how it started. It became Punk Rock and Schlock once Eileen Murphy and Jodi Handley started putting discs in the karaoke machine.
Do you sing? Hell no. I’m a very shy person.
Speaking of shy people, what would you serve Paris Hilton? Oh, we don’t want to talk about that, she gets enough press already.
What’s the most unusual drink you’ve served here? Hmmmm … I know the most disgusting has been a mat shot. People will roll up the mat we use tocatch spills at the bar, have you roll it up and pour it into a glass.
Live music is an important part of Annie’s. You guys book bands nearly every night. Is music your other thing? I wouldn’t be doing this otherwise.
What’s the suckiest thing about your job? A guitar got stolen out of here. It was signed by all the members of X.
Where did you hang out when you didn’t have to always hang out in your bar? Bottom of the Hill, Toronado, Lucky 13 … and I like divey bars in the Mission.
What’s up with all the velvet paintings around here? I’ve been collecting them for a number of years. Then they … multiplied. Was it the Elvis or the Panther that was my first? If anyone out there has velvet paintings, I’m interested.
Annie, we have to say, you’re pretty cute. Do you get hit on a lot? Not enough.
» Strong pour of premium vodka
» Lots of fresh lime juice
» Very spicy ginger ale
Garnish with a lime and serve over ice