Meet Your Mixologist: Ryan Andrew, Paul K

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.

Paul K

199 Gough St., San Francisco; (415) 552-7132; www.paulkrestaurant.com

We’ve always been a big fan of Paul K, the homey-yet-chic Mediterranean-inspired restaurant in Hayes Valley where symphony and opera-bound folks can be found crammed at the bar in their finest gowns and Ted Baker suits. Though the food has always been outstanding, this is truly one of the more understated places to grab some of the best cocktails in The City. Ask anyone who has been there, and you’ll see their faces light up with recognition and then cloud over with regret as to why they aren’t there more often. We got to hang out with the restaurant’s esteemed bartender Ryan Andrew. 199 Gough St., San Francisco; (415) 552-7132; www.paulkrestaurant.com

Where are you from? All over the place. But I moved up here from Monterey for school. I was down there for six years for school, and then I took a year off to travel.

You were down there for school? Yes. I was studying international relations and decided I didn’t want to spend my life in a suit and tie, so I went back to what I love — music.

Wait, so you are back up here for school … again? I’m in audio engineering school at Expressions.

How’d you get into bartending? A buddy was managing [P.J.’s Oyster Bed] in the Sunset, and his bartender quit. I was hired and trained on the spot. It was rough the first few weeks. But he gave me free reign to do what I wanted.

The bartenders we’ve interviewed who don’t have a culinary background typically don’t embrace all the produce and flavors you have for your cocktail creations. The restaurant that inspired me was the Easy Lounge in Oakland. It’s on Lakeshore. Across from Lake Meritt is a farmers market where the bartender I knew would go to get fresh [ingredients]. They’d have blackberry and jalapeño-infused tequilas and make crazy drinks. I get bored, so the last thing I want to do is get bored on a job. It’s also nice having a kitchen here, so I can work with the chef. I’ve learned so much about cooking.

What do you like to cook best? Probably seared Ahi tuna with a glazed mango reduction. I eat a lot of seafood and cook mainly seafood.

You are obviously into music. What do you listen to? I grew up listening to nothing but hardcore hip-hop and death metal, but now I’m an engineer, so I listen to everything.

If you could serve a drink to anyone, who would it be? Joe Strummer.

What would you serve him? Straight whiskey on the rocks and a beer to chase it.

What do you typically order? Something as least complicated as possible. Don’t want to p— the bartender off. I’m a vodka Martini guy with Ketel One.

Do you have any pet peeves? If someone asks for a drink I don’t know and then asks if I am a bartender.

What’s the strangest cocktail you’ve ever made? One person ordered a drink with this jalapeño-infused vodka we had with pineapple juice, Campari and muddled mint. It was the worst thing I’ve ever tasted, but the lady loved it.

Featured recipe

Summer Fling
1 oz. Absolut vodka
1 oz. Absolut Peach vodka
Dash of lemon bitters
Splash of lemon juice
Fresh raspberries and peaches

Muddle together fresh raspberries and peach in a glass. Add vodkas, bitters and lemon juice. Shake together with ice, and strain into a sugar-rimmed martini glass.

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

Talika Fletcher, sister of Roger Allen, is consoled at a vigil to honor her brother, who was killed by Daly City Police on April 7, on Wednesday, April 14, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Supporters march for SF man killed by Daly City police

Struggle over fake gun ends in shooting of 44-year-old Roger Allen, DA says

Curfews on indoor dining have been lifted as The City continues to reopen business. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
City to allow expanded indoor dining, limited indoor concerts and small conferences

With new COVID-19 cases remaining stable, San Francisco will continue to expand… Continue reading

Johnny Cueto P was the starting pitcher for the San Francisco Giants against the Cinnanti Reds, Wednesday. (Sebastian Miño-Bucheli/Special to the S.F. Examiner)
Cueto leaves with injury as Giants take series from Reds

A latissimus dorsi injury to Johnny Cueto cast a dark cloud over… Continue reading

Kyle and Kristin Hart shown with their children. Kyle was shot and killed by police three days after the birth of their daughter, Ellie. (Courtesy of the Hart family)
Wife of Redwood City man killed by police files federal lawsuit

Kristin Hart calls for city to improve its response to those suffering a mental health crisis

Chase Center and the Golden State Warriors hosted a media Welcome Back conference to discuss the safety protocols and amenities when fans return for a basketball game on April 23rd at Chase Center on April 13, 2021 in San Francisco, California. (Photography by Chris Victorio | Special to the S.F. Examiner).
Golden State Warriors ready to welcome fans back to Chase Center

COVID-19 tests, app-based food ordering among new safety protocols announced this week

Most Read