For a popular neighborhood populated with great bars, Sweetie’s stands out because it’s not crawling with tourists. Even though it is only three blocks east of Columbus Avenue, Sweetie’s is more akin to a far-flung bar in the Outer Sunset, where the customers are locals and everyone knows your name. With an easy-going demeanor and a hearty laugh, Ian Reynolds is a perfect fit for that kind of bar. He can also make you a thin-crust pizza. Because Sweetie’s serves food, kids are welcome. So are dogs. Sweetie’s is connected to a large community room, which has catered to art exhibits, memorial services and even Reynolds’ wedding reception. The bar closes early — so don’t go there for last call. It’s open until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights, and 10:30 p.m. the rest of the week. The bar is named for the owner’s father and opened in 1998. 475 Francisco St., San Francisco, (415) 433-2343
How long have you been a bartender? I’ve been here since 2002 and have been tending since 1995 at places like the Elite Cafe and Florio and in New Hampshire. I’m from Hudson, which is about an hour north of Boston.
Why did you become a bartender? I started as a bartender in college. I thought I wanted to be a teacher — until I taught. It turns out people were more happy to see me and I made more money.
Where do you like to drink? It depends on what time of the day and what day of the week it is. I like Tony Nik’s in the afternoon. I also like Vesuvio’s in the afternoon, and when we close, I go to La Rocca’s or Red Jack.
What’s the crowd like here? We get a lot of locals, and we get a few tourists, too. It’s super-friendly and a mellower kind of place. Someone said it was a good place to escape the “Woo!” people. Most of the regulars live in the neighborhood and they like what they like. Some have their special seats. It’s rare that people just stumble in.
Is this a sports bar? I always have the game on, and the Giants trump pretty much everything.
Do you attract a literary and art crowd? We used to have poetry readings, but they like coffee more than drinking, so that wasn’t good for us. A lot of the guys here work or live on the boats.
How do people find this place? People who live in the neighborhood come in and by word of mouth. It’s sort of like U.K. pub culture — it’s pretty tight. But it’s not exclusionary. The regulars are very friendly and give you tips on where to eat and where to go.
What’s your style as a bartender? With a small bar like this, I have to be aware of absolutely everything. I’m a big-picture guy — I want to make our guests feel comfortable.
What's the strangest thing you’ve seen as a bartender? I’ve seen a lot of crazy stuff. I’ve got to write a book. There was one time a guy riding a horse walked right into the bar. It was during Fleet Week. He was wearing Western gear and he said, “Take a picture.”</p>
Are you a local? I live in the neighborhood and walk through the neighborhood. I love the commute and I try to make it a point to walk through Washington Square.
The Mind Eraser
- 1½ shots of Kahlua
- 1½ shots of Ketel One Vodka
- A splash of soda
Fill a glass with ice and pour in Kahlua and then vodka. Top with soda. Do not stir, as this is a layered drink. Put two straws in the bottom.