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.
1539 Folsom St., San Francisco; (415) 278-9474; www.wishsf.com
Cocktails and wishful thinking often go hand-in-hand. And what better place to wish the night away then at Wish. That’s where we met up with 28-year-old bartender Gina Astesana, who originally hails from Truckee. Astesana is a graduate of San Francisco State, earning her degree in interior design. Rather than focusing on throw pillows and sconces, however, Astesana would like to redesign all of our living rooms, kitchens and bathrooms to be more sustainable and environmentally friendly.
What do you typically order when you’re out on the town? A good margarita.
Deceptively simple, yet so few people make ’em right. I like mine with fresh lime, a little dash of sugar, dash of Triple [Sec], splash of sour and more tequila than anything else.
I’ve only been to that main strip, but how many bars are there total in Truckee? That main strip is basically it. There are four bars on that strip … altogether, they probably have like six bars, though all the ski resorts have their own bars.
What’s the strangest cocktail you’ve ever made? A tequila shot. It wasn’t so much the drink as how the guy took the shot. He snorted the line of salt, took the shot of tequila, and squeezed the lime in his eye.
That’s pretty terrible. If you could serve a drink to anyone, who would it be? Jack Kerouac. He would be fun to get a little buzz on with.
Since the name of the bar is Wish, I have to ask. If you could have three wishes, what would they be? Something pertaining to making Styrofoam illegal. The second would be a golden ticket to travel anywhere for about a year. And the third: Obama gets elected.
What is the best method for making a wish come true: blowing an eyelash off your fingertip, a wishing well or a genie lamp? A wishing well.
The Cure’s album “Wish”: Yea or nay? Yea.
Because you are pursuing interior design, how would you design your home from the ground up? Everything sustainable; the smallest carbon footprint possible. It’s easier to do than most people think, a little more expensive, but in the long run it pays off.
What do you think about this whole green movement in the beverage world? I think it’s great. We have an organic pinot noir. I think everything should be headed in that direction. In factories, use solar panels to run your machines.
What’s the most green cocktail you could make? It wouldn’t use any ice then, because of the water. Hmmm. This would be really hard.
What if you could somehow reuse the water from the ice? Pending we were a super green bar that reused all our gray water, I would make the Gin Blossom. It’s fresh, and it’s got flowers.
Speaking of, are the edible flowers any good? They kind of taste like arugula.
Featured drink: Gin Blossom
– 1½ ounces Hendrick’s gin
– ½ ounce St. Germain elderflower liqueur
– 2 ounces orange juice
– ½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
Combine ingredients in a pint glass filled with ice. Shake together and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with an edible flower.