Who to drink - Page 4

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.


JR I'm really digging making cocktails from who I consider to be the two queens of the cocktail in New York: Julie Reiner and Audrey Saunders. I feel like they have a firm grasp of not only the classic cocktail but also the modern palate. I find myself in the Savoy Cocktail Book for inspiration as I have for the past five years or so. And people sure like the Cherry Bounce at Comstock which is a recipe I came up with (made from the juice of house-made brandied cherries).

SFBG Favorite off-hours food or drink hangouts?

JR To me the best place to eat and drink in SF is Cotogna. God bless the Tusks [Michael and Lindsay] for their little trattoria a block from us at Comstock!

SFBG Your bartending playlist?

JR When Booker T. and the M.G.'s comes on, I'm the fastest bartender on the planet. On Friday lunch at Comstock, we play Buddy Holly radio on Pandora. It's a bit of a sock hop with bow ties and suspenders, giving away lunch, selling booze... and fun!



Smugglers Cove

Tending bar since 1997, Steven Liles dons a Hawaiian shirt and mixes it up tiki-style to exotica tunes at the Cove, after having spent years crafting cocktails at fine dining spots like Boulevard and Fifth Floor. Besides his stylin' wardrobe and hats, Liles has his own 1930s home bar, an extensive music collection (start asking him about '60s soul), and is well-versed on classic recipes and spirits distillation.

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

Steven Liles I was born in Compton, California, but mainly grew up in Lancaster, in the Mojave Desert. So my style is dry, like my humor. Growing up in California with all of its diversity has developed a sense that I should explore the different facets of my career as much as possible. I am defined by the desire to expand the definition of myself.

SFBG What's your area of expertise or obsession?

SL I've never been the type to focus on one particular thing as a bartender. I prefer a more rounded approach. Working at a rum-centric bar is fun and fascinating, but I also pay attention to other spirits and styles of tending bar. I love pisco, gin, Calvados, and so many other amazing spirits with amazing stories.

SFBG What do you drink most during off hours?

SL It varies. My go-to cocktails are the martini and negroni. I love a glass of champagne — or a bottle. With so many great cocktail bars, I always try out new ideas that bartenders are creating. It's a lot of fun.

SFBG What cocktail is exciting you lately?

SL With 75 drinks on the menu at The Cove, I can't help but be excited: it is a great challenge. I love making new drinks but that's not really a big focus of mine. I have a regular, Paul Cramer, that I make original creations for all the time. I don't bother writing anything down. I find that fun, to just go off he cuff, in a care-free way.

SFBG Favorite off-hours food or drink hangouts?

SL I love Maven, Comstock Saloon, AQ, Heaven's Dog, Jasper's, Wo Hing, Bar Agricole. There are so many more.

SFBG Your bartending playlist?

SL Sam Cooke's "Good Times" is a great bar song to me: "We are going to stay here 'til we soothe our souls, if it takes all night long." That's perfect.

Subscribe to Virgina's twice-monthly newsletter the Perfect Spot, www.theperfectspotsf.com


Related articles

  • Our 50 favorite San Francisco bars -- all on one page!

  • The G50: San Francisco's top bars

    From splashy dives to upscale classics (and everything in between) — our favorite spots to grab a drink

  • Latin highs

    A new chef livens up beloved Italian tradition Oliveto, and sexy Gitane intensifies its regional Spanish focus

  • Also from this author

  • Our 50 favorite San Francisco bars -- all on one page!

  • The G50: San Francisco's top bars

    From splashy dives to upscale classics (and everything in between) — our favorite spots to grab a drink

  • Fresh sips

    Cocktail, food on the side: What to eat when you're sipping around town