Ace’s Friday, Jun 22 2007 

998 Sutter (415) 673-0644

Prologue: Open “every day from 6am ’til 2am” –so they say — what’s not to like?

Afterword: What a cheerful place to start this admitedly somewhat daunting adventure; Ace’s set the bar perhaps a bit high for “All 4 A’s in One Day Day”. Per force, the visit was ameliorated auspiciously by the appearance of three Barflies, bearing birthday gifts for the Hostess, no less!

Ace’s makes the most of its corner location with walls of windows, which allow one to enjoy the sunshine, should one find oneself there on such a lovely sunny afternoon as we did (who knows what it looks like at night?). It’s obviously a bar with a local clientele, but I certainly felt very welcome, despite never having been there before, and notwithstanding the fact that we were taking so many pictures that we could have been mistaken for <shudder> tourists. There are many large-flat-screen tv’s mounted about for sports viewing, but there is also a jukebox stocked with everything from the Ramones to Willie Nelson. There is some original art on the walls, as well as an apparently compelling mug shot of a very young Frank Sinatra.

Eric was our bartender of record, and Paladin and I were delighted that he already knew that Bloody Marys taste better with lemons than limes. All the mixed drinks he made for the Barflies were tasty and filled to the brim. Four dollar beers and five dollar cocktails confirmed my original suspicion that Ace’s was going to prove to be a stellar start to this sojourn.

Bathroom Biography:
One, unisex, MUCH cleaner than you would think; huge, nice pink lighting (so you will think you look pretty), overwhelming scent of air-freshining product (but in an inarguably good way); plenty of supplies; Bottom line: Do It.

Amnesia Bar Inc. Friday, Jun 22 2007 

853 Valencia      ~     WEBSITE      ~     (415) 970-0012

Prologue: This place seems a little impressed with itself — when you get their voice mail they actually imply they may be “too busy to answer the phone” — but I’m working on finding out what time they will actually be open on “All 4 A’s in One Day Day”…

Afterword: OK, this place is probably a lot more happening later at night, but it also seems to be more of a performance venue with a bar, than a bar where things are performed, if you know what I mean. Granted, we got there seconds before 6pm — when they allegedly open — but we were basically disuaded from trying to enter by someone setting up for the 7:30 show, which she attempted to assure us was worth staying around in the increasingly cold Mission for.

Thank heaven for the Hostess’ dedication to “All 4 A’s in One Day Day”! And thank Bacchus for Sean, who was tending bar and instantly understood the importance of the Barflies being able to come in and belly up, so to speak. How hilarious, when, after such strife, I asked for a vodka martini — when I had been duly warned during dinner at a taqueria down the street that Amnesia was a beer & wine & <ick> soju only joint. But Sean didn’t kick me out, so I settled for a glass of Voigner, and the Baflies and I sized up the joint.

It’s not exactly spacious. But all the lights are red, so everyone looks their best. And we were witnessing some sort of show setting-up, so we were basically backstage for something (either Klezmer music, a puppet show, or a band — depending on who we asked). A priceless memory was made when one of the evening’s eventual performers came back to our end of the bar and asked, a bit frantically, “did I drop my nose here?” It is not as if you can go just anywhere and hear something like that, after all.

My final analysis of Amnesia is that the bartenders are wonderful. They “GET IT”, and will answer any number of questions you ask. Is it a venue with a bar or a bar with a stage — you should decide for yourself. But I do think you will have a better time there if they are having a show in which you are interested. That is probably why they have the website — to keep out interlopers such as myself and the Barflies. But they were ultimately hospitable, never the less. Which, I must say (pun intended) speaks volumes.

Bathroom Biography:
One for each traditional gender, differentiated by somewhat ambiguous pictures on each door (ladies, walk to the back–what follows applies to ladies’ accommodations only); quite unsavory at first — force necessary to engage lock; soap: implied but not actual; paper towels: strangely very high on the wall (decidely not ADA compliant, in case you manage to get a wheechair in the first place). Bottom line: Wait if Possible.

Bar Tartine Friday, Jun 22 2007 

561 Valencia ~ WEBSITE ~ (415) 487-1600

6:00pm Tuesday 6 March 2007

Prologue: I believe this place is not exactly spacious. Perhaps it is not as tiny as the first “B”, but nevertheless I do not suspect that is is large. Their spartan website certainly does not suggest a sprawling establishment. I also have the impression that the restaurant is very popular, so my strategy is to get in when they open so as to secure a spot at what I suspect is going to turn out to be a smallish bar-scape. Of course, we all know that size doesn’t (necessarily) matter, so I am going to sally forth and suss out what there is to be sussed at Bar Tartine. I’m also going to be trotting out the new Bars Bar The Book Business cards, so if you want one, you know where to find me. Oh, and Paladin thinks it’s a beer & wine only bar, so make of that what you will. After my own over-indulgence in vodka-redbulls at the Flambe Lounge party on Saturday night, I suppose could use a night off the hard stuff, so to speak.

Afterword: I was right — Bar Tartine is small.  And they only serve wine (so Paladin was half-right).  Furthermore, Bar Tartine is more of a restaurant with a bar in it at which you are encouraged to eat (sliverware, plates, and napkins are already set out) than a bar in the traditional sense where food also happens to be served.  In fact, long and inviting white marble counter with barstools (and hooks!) notwithstanding, it is truly mystifying that Bar Tartine is listed in The Book under “Bars” at all yet not at all under “Restaurants”. 

I can only conclude they are trying to keep the place somewhat under wraps.  This would also explain the lack of their having any sign outside whatsoever.  Let’s just say this: unless you are looking for Bar Tartine specifically, or unless you are wierdly attracted to flickering candlelight in a mothlike manner, I don’t think you are going to end up there.

Which is sort of too bad, really, becasue Bar Tartine is a very charming spot.  The aforementioned candlelight is augmented by a pair of very decorative sconces behind the bar.  While noticeably not necessarily thrilled that only half of us were going to be eating, our server was nonetheless pleasant enough and kept the non-dining Barflies plied with mini loaves of deliciously warm bread (presumeably the product of the bakery side of the Tartine operation which, if it is nearby, is a similarly incognito establishment).  There are plenty of wines available by the glass — even a decent pink one — the menu looked interesting, and the dishes sampled by the (lucky!) Barflies on their way to the One Man Star Wars show were all apparently quite tasty.  In short, if you are in the Mission and in the mood for some wine, a little romantic ambiance, and a bite (or more) to eat, Bar Tartine will do nicely, especially if it is early in the evening.  They did seem to be filling up quickly as we were leaving, and indeed Chica Cherry told me she had been disappointed in a previous drop-in attempt.

Speaking of whom, Chica Cherry says she is having no troubles whatsoever seeing the latest RSS feeds from this blog with her Firefox browser subscription.  And Miss Olive, who had never heard of RSS before I ranted and raved about it at Ace’s on “All 4 A’s in One Day Day”, says she followed the instructions provided on the “What the Hell is RSS?” page and encountered not a moment’s difficulty subscribing via Bloglines, where she has been reading all about the latest Bars By The Book developments ever since.  So, if you are one of the people who I have heard rumors of who has been unsucessful in subscribing to the feed, please plan to come to “THE NEXT BAR!” so that I can explain it to you in person.  Or e-mail me, and I will send you more detailed directions.   Please.  I’m asking nicely.  Don’t make me beg. 

Bathroom Biography:
One, unisex, candles in there, too.  One corner dominated by a large floral arrangement, which, on the occasion of my visit, consisted of lovely lillies to which I am particularly allergic, but as I managed to avoid anaphylactic shock, perhaps someone had been thoughtful enough to remove the pollen from the petals.  Bottom line: do it — you can get a better glimpse into the open kitchen from the door, and maybe one of the chefs will be cute.

Bus Stop Friday, Jun 22 2007 

1901 Union ~ WEBSITE ~ (415) 567-6905

8:00pm Friday 25 May 2007

 Prologue: Their website is SUPER ANNOYING. Do not click on the link to it unless you want to be directed to a page that plays music which you cannot turn off and is not very informative, at that. (Oh, well, it’s a Bar in the Marina, so what else can you really expect besides a dose of obnoxiousness?) On the plus side of things, the Bus Stop is the first Bar That Is Also a Cocktail Lounge, which is certainly something worth noting. It is also the last Bar that starts with a “B”.  So really, why would you not check it out with me…? 

You might also consider reading Mark Morford’s reflection on excessive drinking beforehand.  I can’t decide if he is pro or con (or has just given up on deciding) in his conclusion, but I do enjoy his prose. And it’s a nice reminder that maintaining the ability to remain upright is essential to say, any “artistic adventure considerably illuminated by champagne” (which is a phrase that appears on the first page of a book called  “Babbitt” by Sinclair Lewis that is otherwise a terrible waste of time so don’t bother reading it because this phrase is the best part of the book, trust me). 

Afterword:  Let me begin this little synopsis by apologizing for taking so long to write it.  I am well aware of the first rule of ridiculous blogging: “update, update, update” — but what can I say?  I wanted to wait until I had time to write something worthy of my Bus Stop experience (and I have been nursing a broken toe — more or less — keep reading).

Paladin and I took the bus to the Bus Stop, because I am nothing if not a propos.  I was excited as I always am on the threshold of “THE NEXT BAR!”, but I do have to admit that my initial impression was somewhat less-than-enthusiastic.  This did not phase me in the least, of course, because I was expecting a pretty stereotypical Marina (and therefore largely unpleasant) hangout, so the fact that the Bus Stop seemed only about 50% stereotypical Marina clientele was actually a plus.  You see, the Bus Stop is actually not a “Marina bar”.  It’s really one of the oldest bars in San Francisco (est. 1900) and what it is is a neighborhood Bar that just happens to be in the neighborhood of the Marina (of course Paladin will debate semantics with you for hours between what is the Marina vs. what constitutes Cow Hollow, but come on, what is the difference, these days, hair-gel-wise?).  What this means is that there are stereotypical Marina-types in there, but at least half the people there are from the neighborhood from well before the designation “Marina” took on its dot-bomb negative connotations, so once you settle in and realize this, you will calm down about the fact that people might be looking at you a little funny, because if you are not from the Marina (or Cow Hollow), they are just wondering what you are doing there, that’s all.

Which is to say that the Bus Stop did not immediately strike me as a destination spot.  What the Bus Stop also happens to be is a sports bar — with 22 tv screens of various sizes all turned to sports and a back room full of pool tables.  So if you want to see sports, I suppose you might head there from elsewhere on purpose, but that’s not why I go to Bars, is it?  So I can’t assess the Bus Stop from the perspective of a sports bar afficinado.

But I can (oh, and I will!)  assess the Bus Stop from a Barfly perspective and as it turns out, the main reason I didn’t like the Bus Stop more immediately is because I allowed myself to be seduced by their window seats, which are bright (being in the windows and all) and do have railings just wide enough to balance a drink on, and even have the same stools as the bar, but I had separation anxiety from the bartender as soon as I had turned my back on him to look out the window and let’s face it, the bar is always the best place to be. 

So when the 25-somethings thronging the bar cleared out to go and peer at the rest of us from their peripheral tables, we moved to the middle of the bar and I instantly felt much more at home.  It is possible this was occasioned, at least in part, to the arrival of the newest Barfly, Scotty, who had ventured blocks (blocks!) outside of his usual drinking zone and obviously needed The Hostess to create the illusion of the familiar if he was going to make it through the requisite Drink.  But meeing Ron, the bartender, was also definitely a factor in the merriment which ensued.  (And I don’t even think I ever got around to telling him the fascinating fact that the Bus Stop is the first Bar In The Book that is also a Cocktail Lounge!)

While Scotty was being miffed by the presense of the creepy guy at the end of the bar with the terrible pick-up lines (he actually asked me if I was his new belly dance instructor, if you can even believe it!) — who has already been 86-ed from where you can otherwise find Scotty enjoying a vodka concoction — and Paladin disappeared outside on the premise of taking a suspiciously long phone call (that could have easily been four cigarettes in a row), I remained calm by focusing on the example Ron set by his sublime equanimity when I explained Bars By The Book to him.  He didn’t bat an eye.  He didn’t seem to care.  He served a bunch of other people their drinks and then, without seeming to have paid any mind whatsoever to what I had told him about the Bus Stop being the # 15 Bar in The Book, served me a complimentary (my favorite kind!) cocktail and started putting the venerable history of the Bus Stop into proper perspective for a new-comer like me.

Well, you know how I feel about charming gentlemen (love them!).  Ron had that one-two punch of charming gentleman plus credit-to-his-profession-of-bar-tender thing going on and I was just smitten.  I could have sat there for (even more) hours, listening to him tell me all about the long (and fajita-checkered) past of his place of employment for the last 20 (right Ron?) years … but there was an old-timey two-person table-top version of Ms Pacman I simply had to check out before I lost any semblance of reflexes, so Scotty and I went over to ask the motor cycle boys to move their helmets off the game (which they seemed happy to do, when asked politely) and I proceeded to kick some serious vintage video game ass (if I do say so myself).

It’s hard to say what happened next.  Jason (we’re giving him 12-year status) started his shift behind the bar and Ron introduced us, and the only thing better than one great bartender is a pair of them, so that was like putting frosting on ice cream.  Scotty seemed to have gotten over the fact that the Bus Stop martinis are Barbie-doll sized (although only $5.50 and made with Belevedere, to be fair), and then the Zombies showed up.  It was frankly a lot to keep track of (and the 25-somethings in the corners seemed utterly unsure of what to make of the Zombies, which was priceless, thank you, Zombies!).  And I wish I could explain the Zombies to you, but those darn Zombies don’t seem to have a permanent website I can link to, and they are beyond even my powers of description (which should tell you a lot, actually).  Suffice to say that there were Zombies.  (And really, need I say more?)

While I can’t explain the Zombies, I did get pictures with them.  Which was when Ron offered to take some pictures of all the Barflies (yes, the Zombies were ‘flies), which was when I, said what I really wanted was to go Behind the Bar and have my picture taken with him and Jason (which I learned at The Black Horse London Pub, you are supposed to wait to be asked to go Behind the Bar, well … who knew?)  My self-invitation was accepted (to my delight — it’s the best vantage point in a bar, you know…) and in the midst of a photo op. that resulted in two adorable photos, I have to admit that I did some damage to the middle toe on my right foot.  (Attention!  All my fault and damage not permanent, I promise!) 

There is a reason that one shouldn’t venture Behind the Bar unless given permission.  It can be a dangerous (or at least somewhat tricky) place and is really best left to professionals.  In the case of the Bus Stop, there is an outcropping of something that is very hard and metallic and precisely the right location to injure any appendages — however small and dainty — that may be peeking out of an open-toed shoe.  Thank Bacchus I had worn my oh-so-trendy-&-Marina-riffic wedge platform sandals that night or things could have been much worse.  I seem to have escaped permanent disfigurement, and the jury (entirely fictional as I assure you it is) is still thinking I won’t even lose the toenail.  Whew!  The toe trauma did sort of bring the evening to an end sooner than it might have otherwise wound up, but that was probably not altogether a terrible thing because the drinks at the Bus Stop are apparently full-strength (despite the size of the glassware), and hey, a mangled toenail is an excuse to take a vicodin, after all (however I think Nora Charles, who arrived — albeit fashionably — late as usual was ticked off at the somewhat sudden-seeming and certianly a bit disorganized departure, and I did spend all weekend — in-between ice-pack applications — hoping I am not on her bad side because that would be a bleak place to be … Nora?).

Alas, in the process of trying very hard to ignore the fact that my toe was probably (and in fact) bleeding rather steadily, I did not make it to the bathroom of the Bus Stop, so I cannot comment on it.  I can tell you that while I was wandering around the pool tables at the beginnng of the evening, admiring the walls of photographs of the Bar and its many years of dedicated patrons, a very nice woman named Rose thought perphaps I was lost and kindly showed me where the ladies room is (it is behind the Ms Pacman game, not in the pool table room where the gents’ lavatory is located).  So, in lieu of a Bathroom Biography, I will tell you three other useful things to know about the Bus Stop: (1) they do take credit cards; (2) they have a sign that says they charge an automatic 15% gratuity on all open tabs; (3) you cannot actually see yourself in the mirrors that are behind all the bottles on the wall Behind the Bar, which is annoying, but the wall opposite the bar is a giant mirror you can see yourself in (if you don’t mind wandering into the midst of the table-hugging 25-somethings who may already be looking askance at you, especially if you are openly consorting with Zombies).

Oh, and lest you think this toe thing was trivial, it actually trumped the Offical Photo outside the Bar.  This has led to a new Policy: the Official Photo will henceforth be taken at the beginning of the Offical Visit.  Missing 2 shots out of 15 is enough already!  This also pushes back our visit to the # 16 Bar, because I need to convalesce a bit until I am in shape to salsa with Jonny-Georgia.  In the meantime, why don’t you go to the Bus Stop and tell me what their bathrooms are like…?

Club 93 Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

93 9th St. ~ WEBSITE ~ (415) 621-6333

6:00pm Thursday 6 December 2007

Preamble:

Oh goody: “the holidays” are here… (The Hostess sighed on December 5th)

An orphan’s least favorite time of the year got off to an even worse than usual start this year (and last year was tough to beat, which you can read about at the bottom of the Various Marginalia page). I had grandly planned to get this bar crawl jump-started with “Hanukkah Happy Hours”. Yep, 8 Bars in 8 nights. Granted, this was an ambitious undertaking after so long, but I geared up for it. I not only re-arranged my workout schedule, I modified my alcohol intake to lower my tolerance thusly likewise lowering my upcoming Bar tabs (note the brilliant behind-the-scenes logic at work here).

However, like so many of the best laid plans, “Hanukkah Happy Hours” was led agley. I blame the resignation of Bars By The Book’s Jewish consultant for the fact that I thought Hanukkah starting on Wednesday meant that December 5 was the first night. Which is the night the happy hours were scheduled to start. Spending Tuesday at jury duty prevented my recalibrating the time-line to start that night. And being the stickler for strict religious observance that I am, I could hardly have something called “Hanukkah Happy Hours” that missed the crucial first night of the celebration, now could I?

“The 12 Nights of Cocktails” was considered. Briefly. I had my doubts about 8 Bars in 8 nights, so I had to conclude that a dozen was really going to be a bit much, financially and hepatotoxically. So — in a stroke of genius — I decided to split the difference and plan a 4 evening event henceforth known as “The Hostess’ Third Annual Holiday Lark”. (Twelve minus eight equals four. Work with me, people…)

That’s right: the next 4 Bars in 4 successive nights. Completely achievable. Totally do-able. Fail-safe, foolproof, and unflappably festive. Or not. We’ll see. Here’s the schedule:

  1. 6:00pm Thursday 12/6: Club 93; 93 9th St. @ (Mission & Market, MAP) — We toast Hanukkah and wonder why there are so many different ways to spell it.
  2. 5:30pm Friday 12/7: Coco’s Bar; 4541 Mission @ (Santa Rosa & Harrington, MAP) — We toast Christmas and wonder whence the idea of the flying reindeer originated.
  3. 6:30pm Saturday 12/8: Costellos Four Deuces; 2319 Taraval @ (33rd Ave., MAP) — We toast Kwanza and wonder if this makes us Politically Correct.
  4. 4:30pm Sunday 12/9: Cresta’s Twenty Two Eleven Club; 2211 Polk @ (Vallejo, MAP) — We toast the perennial underdog “Other”, but especially the pagans who started this holiday madness in the first place while innocently trying to concoct rituals that would bring back the sun.

As Tiny Tim says, “…bless us, everyone!”

 

Prologue: They take credit cards, how bad can the place be? I am personally going to try and get there early, before their alleged happy hour ends at 6:00.

Afterword: The weather outside was frightful but inside Club 93 was so delightful…really, all initial impressions to the contrary — the first of many “holiday miracles”, to be sure:

I was supposed to meet a guy named Bob at Club 93 that dark and stormy night. But that Bob decided the combination of driving from the geographic unfortunateness that is San Mateo, plus the increasingly inclement weather, divided by the sketchy neighborhood where Club 93 is located wasn’t his kind of math. I’d cast aspersions on that Bob, but he’s not really worth the effort.  Just imagine my surprise when the nice man I asked to take the Official Photo before it got too impossibly rainy turned out to be named…Bob! Henceforth known as Coincidence Bob, this Bob also happens to be the current President of the San Francisco Tavern Pool Association, which was having its board meeting at Club 93 that very evening.  (Heads up, ladies!  The Association needs females quite urgently.  Teams regularly must forfeit matches on account of not having the requisite girl in attendance, which means the odds of drinking for free and having men try to get your phone number must be pretty damn good…)  We chatted amicably for quite a while. But I’m getting ahead of myself…

“Who are you?” asked a woman who seemed to be loitering in the doorway to Club 93 as I tentatively attempted to enter the premises. Turns out she was trying to identify Pool Leaguers, rather than keep strangers out of the place, so I made it inside. Turns out she was also the bartender (hi, Coco!) for the first part of the evening, anyway. “Make Your Drunk Dials As Dirty As Your Martinis”, it said around the rim of my glass, which made me smile. That’s when I met Coincidence Bob and he agreed to take my picture.

“You aren’t from here, are you?” quipped an apparent regular Club 93 customer as we wrapped up the photo shoot.

“Actually, we both live here,” I retorted, feeling feisty at being presumed a tourist.

“Then you should know better than to use a camera like that on this street,” he said.

I think that chap was being overly harsh. Club 93 is on 9th St., which is three whole giant SOMA blocks away from the crack-head crevasse that is 6th St. And besides, the camera never has worked quite right since it fell off a fire escape in North Beach, and I could use an excuse to get a new one.  Either way, I didn’t feel like I was taking any risks on that stretch of sidewalk at the time, and so you shouldn’t be especially paranoid, either (and really, who knows what that chap was on?).

After all, I’d already sized up the joint. There’s a somewhat dilapidated (but allegedly functional) piano just inside the door. There are ceiling fans (which The Hostess loves, but for some reason they are only hanging over where the bartenders work at Club 93).  And there are 20 beers on tap — everything from PBR to Stella. Plus a pool table.  And a jukebox (more about this later). To say nothing of the “secret room” downstairs, which Coincidence Bob showed me. You probably won’t get the Grand Tour, so you’ll have to settle for my minimalist revelation thereof: it contains a periwinkle blue pool table. (Admit it, don’t you occasionally wish you were me?!?)

Upon the conclusion of my Grand Tour, what to my wondering eyes should appear but none other than Ms Olive! “Men Are Like Martinis, the Stiffer the Better” it said around the rim of my next glass, and I must confess, we drank a toast to my days of being at the mercy of the availability of a certain little blue pill being over — good riddance (& Happy Hanukkah, of course, to that particular piece of work)!

It seemed like we were waiting for something, but the weather was getting worse and Ms Olive was being cagey. We passed some pleasant time learning about a drink called Chocolate Cake, which is consumed thusly: you dredge a lemon in sugar, bite the lemon, shoot a combination of Frangelica and vanilla vodka…and the whole thing allegedly tastes like a slice of chocolate cake in your mouth (unless you throw up, I guess). Club 93 lacking at least half of the necessary ingredients, we did not get to put this hypothesis to the test, but The Hostess remains firmly intrigued.

At long last, Ms Olive could finally stop anxiously checking her cell phone, because Chica Cherry showed up with my Hanukkah surprise present — Mama Pearl! — on her arm (not to mention, more chocolate coins than any of us would ever be able to eat). And I’ll be damned if “We Are Family” didn’t immediately start playing on the (obviously Jewish) jukebox at right then and there. We sang, we drank, we danced, we had a shift change (hi, Kobe!), and we drank some more. The Tavern Pool Associates finished their meeting and we mingled. I met a woman named Cassandra (according to my notes) with a great sense of style, when I complimented her on her snazzy threads and she complimented me on my new coat, which I really thought made me look sort of like a cow — its being black and white — but this notion was unanimously dispelled (got to love drunk people’s aesthetic!).

Alas, it came to be time for us to go. But we had started the dreaded holiday season off on the right foot, that much was certain. We had braved a skeezy street corner, met a slew of nice new folks, and inarguably experienced Club 93 to its fullest extent. Later on — as we were inexplicably getting kicked out of a cab while dropping Mama Pearl off (which is a whole other story, obviously) — I was positively seized by the holiday spirit and I had to remark, ‘ere the cab drove out of sight,

Happy Hanukkah to all,

And to all, a good night!

It was really a more magical beginning to the (at that time) half-hearted Holiday Lark than a Dickensian Orphan like The Hostess could even imagine. It was more of a miracle than that oil lasting eight nights back in ye Olde Testament tymes. In fact, the next morning, I was actually not despondent upon awakening, for a change. Could have been the vodka. Might have been the jukebox. But I think it was the stellar company aided and abetted by some Club 93 mojo. I wouldn’t necessarily plan another evening around it, but if I were in the neighborhood, I’d definitely drop by Club 93 for another round.

Bathroom Biography:
Ms Olive went first.  Her review was not glowing.  She proclaimed it a “den of dismay” (and while I duly noted this, I did have to ask her the following evening to help me translate my transcription).  I didn’t think the facilities were that bad at all.  I’ve seen much worse and so could you.  If you’ve gotten past the ambiance of the neighborhood, the bathroom is not going to scare you. 

Coco’s Bar Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

4541 Mission ~ (415) 334-6863

5:30pm Friday 7 December 2007

Prologue: Is this Bar in Twin Peaks, or is it in Daly City? Since I have never heard of any of this Bar’s cross streets, there’s only one way to find out for sure, apparently, and it ain’t “the internets”. This might be a gay Bar. This might be a Mexican Bar. This might be a gay, Mexican Bar. Grab your umbrella and let’s go hablamos some espanol like the person who answered the phone when I called to see if they would be open for business. I may need some serious backup on this one, so I hope one or more of you intrepid Barflies steps up to this mysterious plate with me. I’m heading there straight from work, so by all means let me know if you’d like me to swing by and pick you up on my way in order to help me look for a parking space and/or masquerade as a member of my illusionary “security detail”.

Afterword: Wow. Let me just say this about our Christmas celebration at Coco’s Bar: it’s a damn shame that My New Hero couldn’t have been there. Wait ’til you hear the whole story…

Costellos Four Deuces Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

2319 Taraval ~ (415)731-2164 566-9122

6:30pm Saturday 8 December 2007

Prologue: Unless I’m mistaken, this marks a new direction for Bars By The Book. Have we ventured West of Divisadero before? Well, we’ve certainly never been within (admitedly somewhat pushing the envelope of) strolling distance of the Great Highway before, so there’s the value-added possibility of a tipsy moonlit walk on the beach (weather and footwear permitting). Plus, this oddly-named Bar is also a Cocktail Lounge, so it’ll be like stabbing two olives with one toothpick (or something). I will personally be fresh from the salon (because, after all, nothing fosters the elusive “holiday spirit” like spending an obscene amount of money on one’s coiffure), so do your hair and do make your way Westward for what will be, at least, a fetching Official Picture. Just be sure to bring cash, because Costellos Four Deuces does not take credit cards, and who knows how far away the closest ATM will be that far out in the Avenues?

Afterword:  Leave it to The Hostess to walk into a Bar and plop down on a stool in between the owner and his cousin.  And leave it to Bars By The Book to assure you that it won’t be the last time I pay a visit to Costellos Four Deuces.  This place could make one consider moving this far out in the Avenues, just so it could be one’s neighborhood Bar.  When you hear the whole story (coming soon!), you’ll want to travel out there yourself to check it out…

Cresta’s Twenty Two Eleven Club Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

2211 Polk ~ (415) 673-2211

4:30pm Sunday 9 December

Prologue: As the Winter Solstice draws near and the days get shorter, the (civilized) opportunities for daylight drinking are certainly affected. I don’t know how much daylight will be left by 4:30 on the date of this Official Visit, but I’m sure this smallish, seemingly obscure Bar will be a great place to wind down The Hostess’ Third Annual Holiday Lark. At least I hope so. Come and join me for an early round of Candy Cane Martinis, won’t you?  And remember, I’m an orphan, so if you buy me a drink, that qualifies as seasonally-appropriate charity. It might not be deductible, but I will see to it that you feel jolly about your generosity.

Afterword:  We did it!!!  Four Bars in four nights — the best Holiday Lark an orphan could hope for.  More details will follow, but let this be a lesson to you: if you get an invitation to Holiday Lark IV in 2008,  do not do yourself the disservice of missing out on the festivities…

Deluxe Club Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

1511 Haight ~ (415) 552-6949

4:59pm Monday 18 February 2008

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Thank you, Webweaver for the free festive art!

Prologue: It’s time for Bars By The Book’s one year anniversary! As if that wasn’t reason enough to celebrate, it’s also Presidents’ Day, which means a lot of us who would otherwise have to work, don’t — yay! As an added festive element, Mercury is also coming out of retrograde (finally!) so the malaise that so many of the the attuned among us have been feeling will finally dissipate — whew! Last, but certainly not least, this otherwise entirely momentous date happens to dovetail with Day No. 14 of Chica Cherry’s 40-Days-of-Fun 40th Birthday Extravaganza, and she has most graciously decided that celebrating Bars By The Book’s one year anniversary is the Fun Thing she wants to Officially Do that day. (What an amazing Barfly that Chica Cherry has turned out to be!)

After all, she was there when this madness started. The question is, where were you? If you were there, too, then surely you want to come and commemorate the auspicious occasion. If you weren’t there, but have been along on other Official Visits, then this is the perfect time for you to check back in (and get another notch on your Barfly belt…Batman? Wanda? Miss Anthrope?)

And if you have (unfortunately for you) never experienced a Bars By The Book outing, what could be a more perfect introduction to this Tome of Taverns (so to speak) than the one year anniversary party? I don’t want to oversell the evening, but a brilliant neurochemist re-booked his flight to the International Stroke Conference in New Orleans (!) just to be sure he could make it. And another Barfly scheduled the end of her recent bereavement to coincide with having a stiff drink at Deluxe Club with The Hostess on this special night. There are rumors that certain largely anti-social Barflies will make appearances. And Nora Charles is threatening to bring a cake, of all things!

You should come. It’s going to be one for the books, I can feel it. Even if they don’t have a stripper pole, there’s allegedly a dance floor of sorts. If you buy me a drink, maybe I’ll dance with you…

Afterword: What can I say? If you were there, then being there was more fun than reading my description of it can ever be, and if you weren’t there, you won’t believe me when I tell you how much fun you missed. But everyone there deserves to read about themselves, so here goes…

Although the opening time of Deluxe Club was confirmed by Nora Charles and myself on no less than three separate, and independent, occasions, 5:oopm came and went and the Bar remained quite firmly closed. I paced, and waited, and peered in the window, and tried the door; I inhaled the cigarette smoke of dozens of Haight Street denizens, I fretted: repeat (repeatedly). I placed a frantic call or two to Nora Charles. When I was nearing my wits’ end, Ritchie showed up. He’s a Haight Street handyman of sorts (hi, Ritchie!) who spends a lot of quality time at Deluxe Club, and who assured me that the place would open sooner than later. As Ritchie was rolling his second cigarette (the first of which he properly disposed of in the vintage smoking refuse box mounted just outside the door where we were, for all anyone could tell, loitering) who should appear but Chica Cherry, with Scotty just behind her, lending credibility to the whole Bars By The Book (abridged version) I had tried to explain to Ritchie (who seemed to think I was more or less deranged until they showed up).

Handy man, or no, Ritchie did not have the keys to the joint on him, but the pizza guy did! Giovanni was my new favorite person while he unlocked the door, invited us in, and offered to make us drinks (as long as they were uncomplicated). Ritchie split, but Giovanni (hi, Giovanni!) seemed genuinely interested in what we were, in fact, doing at Deluxe Club that night, and he told us all kinds of interesting things about the Bar’s history. (To be fair, Ritchie’s the one who started us down memory lane.) You see, Deluxe Club used to be the Gold Cane, but that place moved down the street, and the former Gold Cane became Deluxe Club, which used to be a gay bar, but became de-gayified when the current owner, Jay, purchased the establishment. Now, don’t ask me how one de-gayifies a Bar, but some of us did wonder. However, before we could delve too deeply into the pondering, Nora Charles showed up with The Cake.

And she didn’t just go to the grocery and purchase a cake. She baked one. (Actually, she baked two, but that’s another story…) Scotty took one look at that confection (The Cake — not Nora Charles — although maybe both, now that I think about it) and ordered one of Giovanni’s pizzas to start. Then Ms Olive strolled in, and it was time for some photos…

To his credit: Giovanni not only got us all drinks, but he managed to bring us a pizza, AND take some fantastic photos of us. For a guy who technically just leases the kitchen space (and has grand plans to restore the menu to its former oyster bar glory) Giovanni went above and beyond the call of duty during the Official Visit, and The Hostess sincerely thanks him for his efforts., wishes him the best of luck in all his culinary endeavors, and hopes he will surprise us with his presence at a future Bar (pizza or no).

I’m pretty sure Jay, the owner (hi, Jay!) arrived next. He plugged in his impressively-loaded i-pod, turned down the lights, and helped Giovanni attend to what was obviously going to be a bigger crowd than they expected so early on a Presidents’ Day Monday (go figure!). I was busy trying to explain The Cake to Jay when Malvolio walked in. And Art (sans Barfly name, which we were hastily able to correct due to some quick and creative thinking) was suddenly strolling in the door. I have to admit, it was getting a bit much to introduce everyone by this time (maybe Scotty was right and we should have had name tags — then again, some of us did have identifying necklaces….)

Chica Cherry started having to take phone calls outside (hey, she has a lot going on right now), and Nora Charles decided it was time to serve The Cake (before the regulars who were wandering in tried to eat it, perhaps). Just as Chica Cherry bid The Hostess adieu, Nora Charles ran out of forks, and Sigerson snuck in. While Sigerson was sorry to have missed Chica Cherry, he and I could always share a fork, so we allowed the scrumptiousness of The Cake (which was shared, of course, with Jay an Giovanni) to console us about Chica Cherry’s early departure (which was really understandable — as she is less than halfway through her 40 Fun Things before she turns 40, and may need to be carried over the finish line, if she doesn’t schedule herself a bunch of spa days in between now and D-day…) Anyway, as we were all enjoying The Cake, and Ms Olive was demonstrating how she got her name by stuffing olives into her bottles of beer, and Sigerson was trying to explain his rather obscure (yet appropriately literary) Barfly name, and Malvolio was trying (not too hard, mind you) not to seem too smug that he actually knew where the name “Sigerson” came from, and Scotty was being apprised of Sigerson’s real name, and Giovanni was bringing out more pizzas, and I was buying Art another drink, and Jay was just trying to keep up with our drink orders without alienating his regulars, I’ll be damned if Batman himself didn’t show up — with another new Barfly, no less (hi, Ben For Now!).

It was like St. Patrick’s Day and Cinco de Mayo and Columbus Day all rolled into one for The Hostess. One year, 33 Bars, 9 Barflies — lots of whom had never met before — and me. Plus, there was The Cake. And I definitely danced with Art (in the absence of a pole) and maybe even had a spin or two with Sigerson (can’t say for sure as I was dazzled by his snazzy shirt as soon as he took off his jacket). We were having so much fun, no wonder the people in charge of the show (comedy?) that was fixin’ to start came over and informed us we would either have to stop telling jokes (that demonstrated the fact that only Batman and I have a truly sublime sense of humor) or take our party elsewhere…

Thank goodness Nora Charles didn’t invite us all over to her place, or I’m quite sure that’s where we’d all still be! Instead, we took what is destined to be the best Official Photo of all time, and went on our (mostly) separate ways. But that was for the best, because now The Hostess — at least — can’t wait to go back to Deluxe Club again. As I like to say, these days, “one has to leave before one can come back” (or something to that effect…)

Alright already, if you have read this far, either you are reeealllly interested in finding out what Deluxe Club is actually like, or you were there, and you wanted to read about how much fun I had with you. What follows is a description of Deluxe Club as it will most likely be when not more or less over taken by Barflies:

Deluxe Club is rather snazzy. Remember in the 1990’s, when there was that weird swing-dancing revival? Ritchie says that actually started at Deluxe Club. The place actually seems a little small for that sort of tossing dance-partners about, but who knows? Anyway, it’s got the ambiance of the sort of place where that could have happened. It’s certainly retro-tastic.

But I must confess, I think one of the best things about Deluxe Club is that it is clean enough — with enough of a respectable, if somewhat genteel and faded, veneer of respectability — that the procession of Haight Streeters marching past outside never even looks in door. Which means you can enjoy some drinks, some music, and maybe some pizza, without getting cancer from second-hand smoke, being hassled for change from fake hippies, or succumbing to the smell of patchouli-scented dreadlocks. In short: Deluxe Club is a haven in the Haight, and I hope to return to it soon. It was also a spectacular venue for Bars By The Book’s one year anniversary party, and may give Ace’s a run for it’s money in the end…(Jay? You need to have start selling t-shirts — I need something to wear next year!))

 

 

The Barfly Forum Wednesday, Dec 27 2006 

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