Before we were New Yorkers, Kyle and I were San Franciscans. Well, not by origin, but certainly by choice.
For as long as I can remember, the answer to every question that began with, "Where would you like to go…" was answered with, "San Francisco." For my birthday? San Francisco. For the weekend? San Francisco. For a cocktail? San Francisco. For residency? Yep, you guessed it.
In 2009, we loaded up Kyle's Honda Fit (which we promptly sold) and made the move to the City by the Bay. We came, we saw, we tended bar, and we then left our friends (and a piece of our hearts) behind for our next adventure. I may no longer have keys to the subterranean studio apartment along the cable car line on Nob Hill, but every time I return to San Francisco, it's just like coming home.
Last week, both of us found ourselves in San Francisco for work by happy coincidence and we had an evening to visit something old and something new.
Our first stop was our favorite cozy San Francisco cocktail den, 15 Romolo, in the Basque Hotel. An escape from the gentleman's clubs and bachelor-party bros of Northbeach, Romolo is a cozy sanctuary that is both comfortable and welcoming. It brings back so many memories for both of us; Kyle tended bar there during our residency and I would visit him for a cocktail. It felt as though everything was just as we'd left it; the friendly faces and ambience remained the same, and the cocktails and food were as delicious as we remembered.
Our last stop of the evening was a new addition to the SF cocktail scene: Whitechapel. How could I resist a gin joint with over 460 gins? Obviously, I couldn't. Modeled after London's Whitechapel underground station, it is a theme bar at its finest (which is exactly what I would expect from the people that brought Smuggler's Cove- the rum bar equipped with an indoor waterfall- to San Francisco). I found several friends behind the stick, including gin maven Keli Rivers (who reportedly has more gins in her personal collection than the massive number found behind the bar). She was generous enough to open and decant a 1960s bottle of Tanqueray Gin for us. It was a magical evening!
As always, the visit was far too short. Until next time, San Francisco!
Rachel Ford is the Diageo National Gin Ambassador, representing Tanqueray, Booth's and Gordon's gins.