Wherever I looked as I contemplated a recent trip to San Francisco, Bourbon & Branch was there. Go, said friends. Go, said the foodie press. Go, said the bartenders. So, I went. And I’m glad I did.
Since it’s a modern-day speakeasy, the door on the corner of Jones and O’Farrell isn’t marked, but it’s not hard to figure out which buzzer to ring. A dapper young man in hat, tie and vest answered and asked for the password. “Books,” I replied, as directed on the web site.
I settled in at the main bar to read the 40-page cocktail menu while sipping an Odin Stone, made with Highland Park 12-year-old, Antica Formula vermouth, Amaro Nonino and Fee’s bitters. Next up was the Primavera, which combined Don Julio blanco tequila, pear liqueur, lemon juice, egg white and rosemary for deliciously herbaceous results.
Manager Joel Baker happily answered questions about unfamiliar Hudson and Willet bourbons, proffered tastes of things like Aviation gin and supplied a short list of “must see” bars in the area. I did go on to several, and was impressed by a few, but Bourbon & Branch is clearly the mark to beat.
Bourbon and Branch, as depicted on its web site.