Let’s be frank. Actually, let’s be Fran. In this cocktail-centric metropolis, the chances of sipping on a superlative Harvey Wallbanger or a provocative NOLA-inspired Sazerac made from the hands of a fully-tattooed male with an affinity for Rollie Fingers is a fair sight more likely than savoring a boozy palliative shaken by a member of the fairer species.
I (clearly) have no qualms about guzzling toothsome moonshine from the XY chromosomes at Bloodhound or Bourbon and Branch, but when barkeeps from Venus go toe-to-toe with the boys, my soul all but melts into a Spinal Tap-esque puddle of goop. Ah, gender equality. This week, we’ve got mad props for the wise women of classy intoxicants.
This former-bank-turned-restaurant has evolved into a realtor’s nocturnal emission. While anyone living in the ‘hood for longer than a half decade is quick to point out that you’re actually hobnobbing in the Western Addition, it didn’t take long — the joint’s been open for five years now — for Divisadero denizens to become familiar with their new acronym, and the piquant potables of bartender Kitty Gallisa.
On any given evening on the corner of Hayes and Diviz (perhaps a tad less often these days since Gallisa’s been busy with her Hapa Ramen project), you’ll find her mixing and muddling to a local crowd of fervent followers. From White Dog manhattans, to Aston Martins, to the surprisingly delightful nonalcoholic quince lemonade, rest assured that when she’s slingin’ drinks, you’re in for a treat.
560 Divisadero, SF. (415) 864-8643, www.nopasf.com
For many, 15 Romolo is one of the best reasons to saunter into the neon trees of North Beach. Among the many attractions at this Barbary-Coast-staple-turned-hipster-hideaway is a menu of seasonal, locally sourced bar bites and carnival fare that will engage and inspire, as well as a truly remarkable cocktail program aided by the affable New York City transplant (and recent Bar Star winner!) Morgan Young.
The sassy, inked up 20-something came onto the scene last summer, and her immediate impact as a force to be reckoned with was felt shortly thereafter. While she’s clearly able to mix up a fine, traditional Mad Men-era cocktail, if you’re torn on what to order just give her a base alcohol of preference and she’ll handle the dirty work of creating a luscious libation while you munch on smoked pulled pork sliders, burgers made with 100 percent grass fed beef, and some of the best chicken ‘n’ biscuits you’ll find west of the Mason-Dixon line.
And if you’re in a vivacious mood, ask Morgan for her signature Pebbles champagne cocktail with orange Curacao, peach bitters, rosé, sugar cubes, and a grapefruit twist. It’s like a party in your mouth, and everyone on Broadway and Columbus is invited.
15 Romolo Place. www.15romolo.com (415) 398-1359
HOTSY TOTSY CLUB
This one’s a bit of a trek, but if you have a pal with a whip who owes you a huge favor, burn a lifeline by scoring a lift to the Totsy. What was once a gritty, since-1939 rathskeller reserved solely for self-medicating WWI veterans has morphed into the coolest hang in all of Albany (actually a lot bigger feat than you’d think).
With free shuffleboard, free Wi-Fi, and a free 45-rpm jukebox filled with donated records spanning 1952 to the late ’70s, there’s no better place to enjoy artisanal fire water and eye-opening transgressive cinema streaming from a high def Magnavox. Bartender Keli Rivers oversees HTC’s cocktail program, and if you find a better mescal creation than Totsy owner Jessica Maria’s Mexican Velvet, a blend of Cazadores reposado, Chichicapa mescal, pineapple gum, and fresh lime in a velvet falernum-rinsed glass, I’d love to hear about it.
Save yourself the trouble of looking and dabble in Keli and Maria’s handiwork with a street taco from nearby Tacos al Autlense in one hand and your lap dog in the other (it’s a canine-friendly joint). If that ride isn’t forthcoming, catch Keli mixing it up tonight (Wednesday, May 25) at CUESA’s farmers market cocktail event at the Ferry Building.
601 San Pablo, Albany. (510) 526-5986, www.hotsytotsyclub.com
The raffish Ruggy Joesten is senior community manager at Yelp.com.