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.
450 Powell St., (415) 395-8555
Out of nowhere, the weather has cruelly changed from a lovely (and rather extended) Indian Summer to the teeth-chattering blustery blitz that now greets us every time we step outside. Sadly, the thought of ice cubes clinking in our glass now invokes the tiniest grimace. Thankfully, Jacques Bezuidenhout has rescued us from an almost-near dry spell. The 34-year-old originally from South Africa had us as cozy as a fireplace with his Heated Affair, a delicious take on the traditional hot cider that he’s concocted for the Bar Drake, the new meeting place inside the historic Sir Francis Drake hotel. Instead of rum, Bezuidenhout uses tequila, effectively winterizing our insides and turning out a darn good drink. All this cold never tasted so good!
On your card it says you are a sangoma. What is that? A Zulu word from Africa. It means witch doctor.
What do you cure? Anything from a hangover to a soon-to-be hangover, though the funny thing with tequila is I don’t get hangovers.
Do you know who Sir Francis Drake, the namesake of this bar, is? I’m roughly brushing up on my American history. He was one of the people who discovered America. And he was also a pirate? They used to call him El Draque.
Good job. He also is rumored to have had an affair with Queen Elizabeth I. How did youget into bartending? I was working at bars in South Africa. Then I moved to London and it was in London I started seeing more of the craft behind it.
Why did you go to London? I moved to London to go travel. It’s very easy to slug your way around the world as a bartender.
Are there any major differences between English and American drinkers? I don’t think so anymore. Right now, [London] has one of the best bar scenes in the world.
What was it like before? People would order port, sherry, scotch, beer. Oh, the way you can tell a European from an American, is if you order a Martini (in London) they’ll give you a Martini dry vermouth on the rocks.
So prior to coming here, you were upstairs at the Starlight Room. How’s Harry Denton? He’s very good.
What’s he like to drink? He loves to have people drink chartreuse. It’s his favorite. I can’t complain. You don’t see many people drinking chartreuse.
What made you decide to replace the rum in a traditional hot cider with tequila? I’ve always been a huge fan of 100 percent pure agave tequila. I just tried it one day and it worked really well. There are so many great other applications for tequila in other cocktails; to get a little bit of that agave fruit to come through.
This is for the holiday season only though, yes? Yeah. This time of year, people just feel like a warm cocktail.
» 2 oz. Partida tequila
» 2 oz. Anejo tequila
» 6 oz. hot winter spiced organic apple cider
Top with a generous layer of heavy cream.
Sprinkle freshly grated nutmeg over top.