Who to drink - Page 2

SUMMER DRINKS: Five bartenders look to the past to create some of the Bay's best cocktails -- and tell you what to sip for summer.

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EE The core of my playlist at Heaven's Dog is the box set of Stax-Volt Soul singles from 1959 through 1968.

 

JEFF LYON

Range

Jeff Lyon has been tending for about 16 years, the last five being at Range in the Mission, where he's currently the restaurant's bar manager. Besides a keen love and knowledge of whiskey and tequila, he's well-versed in music and sets an utterly comfortable tone at his bar with his dry, sly sense of humor.

SFBG Where did you grow up, and how did that influence your bartending style and taste? 

Jeff Lyon I was born in Long Beach, CA, but bumped around CA until I was 20, then moved to Minneapolis to become a rock star with my brother. In order to fund our impending international success (ahem), we waited tables, but I noticed bartenders had way more fun than waiters. So I watched what they did and asked a lot of questions. Eventually I lied and told my boss I knew what I was doing, and they let me behind the bar. Minneapolis influenced my bartending style in that I picked up a strong work ethic. It wasn't about "mixology" — it was about being nice, working clean and fast, having fun.

SFBG What's your area of expertise or obsession?

JL I'm a whiskey guy and Bourbon is my favorite, but right now I'm really excited about the wine-based world of vermouth, sherry, and Madeira. I wouldn't call it an area of expertise, but I find the variety and subtlety of this stuff endlessly fascinating. Who needs crazy tinctures, bitters, and infusions when you can simply pour a Barolo Chinato over a big chunk of ice? Done!

SFBG What do you drink most during off hours?

JL I drink more beer and wine than anything else.

SFBG What cocktail is exciting you lately?

JL I'm proud of a cocktail I do called Dante that's inspired by the sazerac's "whiskey, sugar, bitters and a rinse" structure. I stir up Angel's Envy bourbon, Perucchi Blanc vermouth, and Rothman and Winters Pear Orchard liqueur to provide sweetness, and Peychaud's to balance it out. Standing in for the absinthe is a generous rinse of St. George Spirits pear eau de vie.

SFBG Current favorite off-hours hangouts for food or drink?

JL More often than not, I go to dive bars. I do my share of cocktail R&D right in my neighborhood — Wo Hing and Locanda are rockin' it. Beretta is always great. Outside the neighborhood I love the usual suspects: 15 Romolo, Alembic, Bar Agricole, Comstock. The great thing is that there are so many bars raising the standards, even dive-y bars are making better drinks.

SFBG Your bartending playlist?

JL If I could have a night full of Bill Withers, Django Reinhardt, and Thelonious Monk, balanced with Nirvana, The Beatles, and Led Zeppelin, I could smile through just about anything.

 

AURORA SIEGEL

Hotsy Totsy, Dogwood

A true veteran of cocktailia, Aurora Siegel has been tending bar for the better part of 17 years. Having worked as a GM and beyond, she deeply understands service and the full restaurant-bar experience. Years at North Beach classic Rose Pistola honed her skills in numerous aspects of management and bar service, and she's quite the cook herself (she makes a mean kimchi). You'll currently find her rocking the East Bay at Albany's Hotsy Totsy and Oakland's Dogwood.

SFBG Where did you grow up, and how did that influence your bartending style and taste?

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