This week we decided to get intergalactic, if you will — to go to places no man has ever really gone before (at least not on a regular basis), to venture out to the mighty intersection that is Van Ness Avenue and Lombard Street.
Not quite the Marina, not quite Russian Hill, we were game for a new brand of entertainment.
That’s how we found Brandon Clements, the 28-year-old barkeep over at Mercury Appetizer Bar.
Serving Asian-inspired appetizers into the wee hours, come 1 a.m. you can curb your late-night cravings by ordering the pork and shrimp lumpia or pan-seared ginger beef.
We also dug the Lavender Martini and the Thai Basil Martini that Clements whipped up while we drank in the bar/lounge’s metallic, industrial atmosphere.
Mercury Appetizer Bar: 1434 Lombard St., (415) 922-1434, www.mercurysf.com
How did you get into the bartending biz?
The first job I had when I moved up here was a job at Max’s Opera Café. I was a singing waiter. I expressed an interest in getting behind the bar, so when I turned 21, I trained with Alan, who was 65 years old, who based his style on classic cocktails.
So I take it you are into music?
I was a theater major at San Francisco State and growing up I played a lot of saxophone and was in musicals.
Have you seen Disney’s “High School Musical?”
I’ve only seen clips of it on “The Soup,” and I think that’s as much as I needed to see.
Now everyone at Max’s has a song. What was yours?
“Where is the girl?” from “The Scarlet Pimpernel.”
How did you make your way to Mercury?
I left Max’s and went to Betelnut. I was there for three years and that’s where I met Dominic [Ainza]. Then I went over to Mecca and was the bar manager there for a couple years. Then Dominic opened this place and I came here. So now I’m still helping to manage the bar, and I’m also tending bar at Spruce — it’s a new restaurant on Spruce and Sacramento. Tim Stannard is the owner and I’m really trying to become his protégé.
Since this is the Mercury Bar, is Mercury your favorite planet?
Do high levels of mercury in certain fish concern you?
Not at all. I actually ask for extra mercury in my fish when I order it.
Freddie Mercury, a god — yes or no?
Oh my god, my mom was a huge Queen fan. I grew up to all those records.
If you could serve anyone a drink, alive or dead, who would it be?
Stevie Wonder. I’ve served a lot of famous people in restaurants and usually I could give a sh–. With him, I just feel like I would be tripping all over my tongue. Plus I’d be interested to know what he drinks. Hopefully, he wouldn’t order an Apple Martini.
We love hearing about famous people. Who have you served?
We had Bill Clinton when I worked at Betelnut. We had to go buy cans of Diet Coke. He wouldn’t drink it out of the gun.
What’s one of your pet peeves?
Just rudeness. I almost think people should get a card certifying that they know how to behave in a bar or restaurant. I think people get confused between the difference of service and servant. And I love giving people great service, but I’m not your servant.
Honey Lychee Daquiri
» 1 to 2 teaspoons of honey syrup
» Freshly squeezed lime juice
» 2 ounces of rum
» 1 teaspoon of lychee liqueur
Shake ingredients together. Serve straight up in a martini glass. Garnish with a lychee fruit.