Meet your mixologist: Gabe Cothes

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.

Last fall, the owners of Town Hall opened their second blockbuster — bustling downtown favorite Salt House. A stylish set packs the communal table at the bar for after-work drinks, then digs into plates of oysters and pepper-rubbed steak for dinner. Most nights, spirited Santa Cruz native Gabe Cothes tends the bar. “People here are into the classic cocktails, like martinis,” he tells us. We resisted the urge to order ours shaken, not stirred.

Salt House

545 Mission St., San Francisco

415-543-8900, www.salthousesf.com

So how long have you been at Salt House? About eight months, since we opened.

What’s with the name Salt House? When the owners were looking for a concept, they visited a gastropub in England named Salt House and loved the feel of it, so they wanted to bring that back to S.F.

Keeping on the salt theme, do you have a favorite salt-rimmed cocktail? The Salty Dog. It’s justa classic.

Where else have you bartended? Before Salt House, I was working for a furniture company, but before that I’d worked at Fly Trap and Ristorante Umbria. I’ve been tending bar since college.

Can you predict what drink customers are going to order? Yes.

How often are you right? All the time. Women who’ve been working all day like a glass of white wine; it’s the wonderful old-school Herb Caen types who order the martinis.

So what’s your poison? During the day, it’s always Citron and soda. At night during the summer, vodka rocks or tequila with a little lime. In the winter, I switch to darker alcohol like Maker’s Mark.

What drinks do you mix for friends? If it’s a barbecue, definitely margaritas. I also make my friends guinea pigs for new drinks.

Where might we spot you on a night off? Either catching live music or nursing a hangover. Recently I saw The Good, The Bad and The Queen at the Regency.

Any bars you frequent? The House of Shields, 540 Club, the patio at Zeitgeist. Anywhere where there’s a familiar face, really.

Who would you most like to share a cocktail with? George Hamilton.

Why? Because I can’t think of anyone better.

What’s the worst pickup line you’ve heard at a bar? I can’t think of one that I haven’t used myself.

So do you think Paris Hilton should go to jail? She deserves community service. She’d look good in an orange jumpsuit.

What do you think about Britney’s comeback? I can’t get enough of her. iPod, ringtone, you name it.

Featured Recipe

Old Cubano

» Combine 1.5 ounces rum, ¾ ounce lime juice, a dash of bitters, ¾ ounce simple syrup and a handful of mint leaves in a shaker.

» Shake vigorously.

» Strain into a champagne flute.

» Top with ½ ounce brut champagne or sparkling wine and garnish with a lime twist (optional).

entertainmentFeaturesFood & DrinkFood and Wine

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

Diners at Teeth, a bar in the Mission District, on July 9, 2021. Teeth began using digital menus based on QR code technology in August. (Ulysses Ortega/The New York Times)
The football stadium at UC Berkeley, on Saturday, Sept. 26, 2020. George Kliavkoff, a former top executive at MGM Resorts International, took over the conference at the start of the month. (Jim Wilson/The New York Times)
What’s Ahead for the Pac-12? New commissioner weighs in

‘Every decision we make is up for discussion. There are no sacred cows.’

The sidewalk on Egbert Avenue in the Bayview recently was cluttered with car parts, tires and other junk. <ins>(Kevin N. Hume/The Examiner)</ins>
New surveillance effort aims to crack down on illegal dumping

’We want to make sure we catch people who are trashing our streets’

As the world reeled, tech titans supplied the tools that made life and work possible. Now the companies are awash in money and questions about what it means to win amid so much loss. (Nicolas Ortega/The New York Times)
How tech won the pandemic and now may never lose

By David Streitfeld New York Times In April 2020, with 2,000 Americans… Continue reading

Most Read