Meet Your Mixologist: Josh Longo, XYZ Bar

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.


181 Third St. (Mezzanine Level), San Francisco; (415) 817-7836,

Every now and then, we understand it’s necessary to cleanse our bodies of toxins and pollutants and get back in touch with nature. We’d never do it if it meant giving up our nightly cocktail. Thankfully, bartender Josh Longo and the rest of the gang at the XYZ Bar in the W Hotel have concocted the perfect solution to this dilemma. It’s called the Eco-Licious program. Monday through Friday from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., the bar rolls out a menu that lists only organic cocktails and farm-to-table nibbles. We’re talking biodynamic wines, organic beers and a few organic cocktails. Meanwhile, we can snack on yummy eco-tots (yep, fancy tater tots), pizzas and tuna tartar. Good for us and good for the environment. Never have we been more proud of our buzz.

Where are you from originally? My mom and dad.

Touché! No, seriously. I was born in Chicago, raised in Fiji and grew up in Hawaii. Tough upbringing, I know.

Why are you here in San Francisco? It’s the only city I can live in. My dad was living in Sacramento, and I was visiting on my way back from school. I was trying to move to San Diego for the surf, and I just couldn’t fit in. Every time I came here, though, I had such a great time.

What did you go to school for? I’m a chiropractor Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in Presidio Heights. [Bartending] strokes my alter ego. It’s a different kind of healing I do here.

What place on the body do you crack most? First, it’s called “adjusting.” And it would have to be the upper cervicles and your head carriage. I treat everything. A joint’s a joint.

Let’s talk about this joint, XYZ. I’m curious: Any drinks you know that begin with either X, Y or Z? Not really.

What do you typically order when you go out? Depends on the occasion. Usually a Ketel One vodka martini with a twist. I like everything except black licorice.

If you could serve a drink to anyone in the world, who would it be? My mom.

Aww. I don’t see her enough. She’s in Fiji.

What would you serve her? A beautiful glass of pinot noir. It sounds really tacky, but I miss my mom a lot. She raised me by herself.

What was it like growing up in Fiji? Amazing! Running around barefoot, no TV. We’d always cook for everyone. We’d go fishing and cook each other lunch; cook up some breadfruit. All you have to do is wrap it in tinfoil and it’s amazing.

Do you take transit to work? Yes. I take the BART from Glen Park station.

We have this theory here, that transit could really improve with on-board bars. So, what would you serve, if you could, on the BART from Glen Park station? Silver top-shelf margarita. It’s a train, so I’m thinking silver bullet.

Speaking of traveling, if you could be sipping a cocktail anywhere in the world, where would it be? Greece. It’s the only place I haven’t visited. Traveling and concerts — that’s where I like to be.

Where’s the best place you’ve been so far? Southern Italy for a family reunion. My dad’s family is from Italy.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years? Probably back in Hawaii, but it’s going to be kicking and screaming. I’m getting married on the Big Island in October, on the water. I’m going to miss The City though, boo hoo!

Featured recipe

Strawberry-Basil Up

2 oz. Belvedere vodka

1 oz. Strawberry puree

6 basil leaves

Splash of simple syrup

½ oz. Fresh-squeezed lemon juice

Muddle the basil leaves with the strawberry puree. Add the vodka, simple syrup and lemon. Shake it up. Pour into a martini glass.

FeaturesFood & DrinkFood and WineLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at

Just Posted

A ban on smoking or vaping in multi-unit buildings has drawn opposition from cannabis advocates, who say it would leave users with no legal place to consume a legal substance. (Shutterstock)
Cannabis group slams Yee’s proposed apartment smoking ban as ‘classist’

Legislation would impose fines of $1,000 a day on repeat violators

The most dangerous behaviors by drivers include failing to yield right-of-way at crosswalks, unsafe speeding and failing to stop at red lights or stop signs. <ins>(Ekevara Kitpowsong/Special to S.F. Examiner)</ins>
Hetch Hetchy in Yosemite, which supplies water to San Francisco, is among the concerns of the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, which is undergoing a change of leadership. <ins>(Courtesy SFPUC)</ins>
Changes in leadership at SFPUC spark concern, hope for future water policy

Will agency’s new commissioner continue to support Big Ag?

Supervisor Shamann Walton joined with community members to speak out against rising homicides, which have taken a heavy toll in the Bayview-Hunters Point in 2020. (Samantha Laurey/ Special to S.F Examiner)
SF homicides surpass 2019 total with month left in year

Police attribute rise to COVID-19, shootings and deadly gang violence

A screenshot from SFPD body worn camera
New videos show police shooting man armed with knife, frying pan

Police say Antonio Estrada set fire to apartment building before shooting

Most Read