Sunday, March 11, 2007

When a cocktail feels right

I'm standing at a rather ornate door in a part of town that I'd been advised not to walk in. A guy on the street a about a block behind me looked me up and down and said "One block over, don't turn left." I'm armed with an address, a rather silly password, the promise of some of the best cocktails in San Francisco and an incredibly jet lagged girlfriend. The night promises to be a good one.

There's something ever so slightly odd about cocktail bars in London. They really don't seem to work terribly well. There's something about them that just jars with the natural tendencies of an Englishman, who much prefers comfy chairs, warm beer and salt and vinegar crisps. Well, this Englishman anyway. They feel forced if they are populated by London's beautiful ones or fusty and cheesy if they are in one of the international hotels. However, the Americans know a good cocktail bar and how to mix a good cocktail; it seems natural and effortless, somehow utterly right to be holding a martini in the US, the relaxed fomality works a treat.

Bourbon and Branch on Jones and O'Farrell is a beautiful space, from the unmarked entrance on Jones Street, the stamped metal ceiling and the Chihuly chandeliers to the large book lined library bar and dark wood fittings, it's got that lovely, slightly muted, almost hushed feel that all good cocktail bars should have. It's not there weren't people shouting, laughing and generally having a good time but there was a touch of secrecy to it, something of the private which always makes drinking a well made cocktail a little more exciting. The password to gain entry to the private party probably had something to do with it. As for the drinks, I'm not that much of a lounge lizard but the cocktails here were beautifully and skillfully put together with simple, elegant presentations with modern and classic sitting side by side very comfortably. I wish it was my local to be honest, but I doubt they'd let me watch the football scores on a Saturday afternoon and I sure as hell didn't spot any crisps behind the bar.


cookiecrumb said...

Well, the Chihulys!
If you can stand Chihulys.
(Dude, I got crisps at my house. C'mon over for a pint.)

Dagny said...

There's something magical, to me at least, about getting dressed up and sipping on a beautiful drink. Because I can do simple at home. When I go out, I want something different.

Sam said...

Nothing bout Bourbon & Branch seems natural and effortless to me, which is why I haven't been arsed to make a reservation yet.

I do have to say, I am lacking the Englishman gene, and SF bars are much more matched to my personal psyche than the pubs of London ever were. I am a cocktail and champagne girl and Barcardi Breezers don't really do it for me. (Although crisps - anytime mate!) Have fun in Napa x