Mixologist: At Bar Agricole, quality ingredients make the cocktail

Bar Agricole: The name, which means “farm bar” in French, conveys the owners’ philosophy and approach, stressing the importance of agrarian values by using premium products for the drinks and the food. Bar manager and co-owner Eric Johnson, whose 15 years of experience include such notable bars as Delarosa, Heaven’s Dog, Beretta, and Bourbon and Branch, speaks with passionate intensity about what distinguishes Bar Agricole. “We pay a lot of attention to where our ingredients come from,” he said. “It’s a fastidious point of view: Where do the pomegranates come from in the grenadine? It’s comforting and we’re prideful to serve someone the best.” Open for only a month, the exterior of this “modern, urban tavern” features historical corrugated metal and a 1,200-square-foot garden and patio, hidden behind the walls. Upon entering the futuristic, stark space, one is immediately struck by the shimmering skylight fixtures made from tubular glass that float down from the ceiling, conveying a sense of movement, like huge, luminous waves. They are remarkable and memorable, just like the cocktails. 355 11th St. (between Harrison and Folsom streets), San Francisco, (415) 355-9400, www.baragricole.com

What bartenders do you admire? Steven Aleshire, who worked at Mecca, showed me how important it is to be gracious. People do remember if you’re not.

There are a lot of exotic cocktails being served in city bars now. What’s your philosophy about it? Drink recipes were getting more convoluted, but it’s really not that complex. The real question is, does it really give you satisfaction as a guest? The simplest recipes have a huge amount of nuance — different types of limes and how you squeeze them. I try to use it as inspiration that can benefit the enjoyment of the drink.

What are your favorite bars? Heaven’s Dog. It represents perfectly the work that gets done there. Tommy’s in the Richmond. Owner-bartender Julio Bermejo opened up a world of possibilities to me and helped a lot of people. Harry’s Bar in Paris. Hence, the Parisian cocktail shakers that we use.

<strong>What’s your favorite drink? Tequila for spirits; Martinez for cocktails. The Martinez tends to be malleable enough to accept different types of base spirits. It’s the forefather of the martini.

What’s the most popular drink at Bar Agricole? The Presidente. It’s a Cuban drink that was one of the reigning cocktails of the Prohibition era. It can be luminescent on the palate. It’s very subtle, but when it all comes together it’s wonderful.

What makes a great bartender? Humility, attention to detail, doggedness. I had to learn 65 drinks when I worked at Bourbon and Branch.

What distinguishes Bar Agricole? The twinkle in the eye for this place came from our bartenders. It shows where we came from.

Star Daisy

  • 1 oz. gin
  • ¾ oz. Calvados (apple brandy)
  • ¾ oz. lemon juice
  • ½ oz. pomegranate grenadine

Shake ingredients together in cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a coupe (Champagne saucer) glass. Add a splash of soda water.

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