Tradition pays homage to America’s history of bar culture

Beth Laberge/Special to the S.F. ExaminerThe pause that refreshes: Kimberly Gooden

Tradition This is a candlelit spot where brunette bartenders in denim collars and suspenders mix cocktails for experienced drinkers. The walls are adorned with vintage posters of Seagram’s 7, Four Roses bourbon and Cutty Sark. Brought to you by the owners of Bourbon and Branch, Rickhouse and Local Edition, Tradition looks back on American bar archetypes — the Irish, the speakeasy, the dive and the tiki. It also spent a spell as Mr. Lew’s before its current iteration. Tradition also houses a barrel-aging program, developing original products and blends by storing them in barrels once used for pinot noir, apple brandy or cognac. Half the bar is open to walk-in customers and offers a limited menu. The other half, available by reservation only, has eight drink menus. A ladder behind the bar leads up to a library of whiskeys and exotic Caribbean rums. For the serious drinker looking for an intimate table, private booths can be reserved. We spoke with bartender Kimberly Gooden.

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All brunettes behind the bar — coincidence or dream come true?

I’d have to say coincidence. Our former manager who just left was a stunning blonde.

What’s your craziest bar story?

The first bar I worked at was in a rough neighborhood in D.C. We hosted an art event upstairs. My bar downstairs was dead. After the show, everyone came down with the same shocked look on their face. I guess the artist circumcised himself with a dull knife. He was whisked away in an ambulance, but he took a shot before he left.

What do you like your man to drink?

I like him to drink whiskey. Simple.

What do you like about your job?

I simply like the act of making a drink. I like to see that satisfied person who likes what I make them. And I love being able to sleep in in the morning.

Where do you go out to drink?

I don’t go out to drink as often as I’d like. I live in the Mission, so I go to the Latin American Club. Killer margaritas. Also, the Lone Palm when I wanna class it up a little.

What do you do when you’re not pouring drinks?

I’m the copy editor of a magazine called Radio Silence. My husband’s the editor-in-chief. He started it a year ago. It’s a magazine about literature and rock ’n’ roll.

You’re stuck on a deserted island with one drink — what is it?

Honestly, I’d wanna be stuck with a pinot noir. Lighter-bodied and earthy. Wait, do I get water?

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