Bum Fights and Cocktail Bars

As a cocktalian, I’m always looking for the next cocktail. I love the classic cocktails and the reimagined ones as well. I had heard so much about Rickhouse that I knew I had to hit it up when I was in San Francisco last week.

On Friday, after dinner at Frances, we headed over to Bourbon & Branch around 8 p.m. We figured since it was in the Tenderloin, that was the one we wanted to hit up first and then get out to the other bars. The Tenderloin is a notorious area in SF. It is rife with riff raff and all sorts of graft. Yet, I strolled in with my LA swagger. Good thing because I got into a fight with a bum.

Wha? Yeah, the Minty VS lunatic bum. He first spotted Carina and started saying shit like, “Why aren’t you smiling, bitch?” I, of course, was horrified. Who starts a conversation with bitch? Oh, yes, that’s right, I’m in the T-loin.  He sees me looking and actually tries to crowd into me and intimidate me.

Now, I’m not heartless. I’ve listened to the spiel of many homeless but this guy was most definitely not asking for change. He wanted to scare us.

So, here he was trying to push me with his chest and the first thing I did was push him away and told him to step off. He was shorter than I was but a huge guy. I don’t know what I was thinking. He could have had a gun, a knife or friends around.

Instead of thinking of safety first, I just very calmly told him to go away. NOW. Yes, right NOW. I didn’t call him names. I just repeatedly told him to go away. He didn’t like that too much. The signal changed and I started to slowly walk away. Saunter. Oh yes, LA swagger, right here. I could hear him for the next block and half screaming at me.

What was my reward? A cocktail at Bourbon & Branch that wasn’t anything I couldn’t have gotten in LA. Perhaps this B&B joint is trying to mimic the bars in DTLA that are adjacent to Skid Row but I rather have skipped this experience.

Once inside, the house rules were in place so no photography. I don’t know if I could have taken anything anyway since that was when it started to hit me and I was a bit shaky.

We asked the bouncer to call us a cab but he told us they stop on the corners. Um, yeah, I don’t want stand on the corner with possible homicidal bums around. One fight a night is as much as I can handle.

We finally found a cab and off we went to Rickhouse.  There, the theme is very upper class Wild West, if there was such a thing. Sure, they imitated a mining saloon but the fact was, it was plush. We grabbed a cocktail (Mamie Taylor for me) and headed upstairs. I watched a man hugging a column trying to stay upright. Eventually he and his friends were asked to leave. It was about 9:30 p.m.

We went back downstairs where I had a Ward 8. It was fine. I thought it was more amusing to hear the guy next to me describe DTLA and how it was this cool, up and coming area. He wanted to start a pedicab service (sorry stranger if I’m throwing your idea out there). His friend didn’t believe anything could be that cool in DTLA. He should take a look at my bar list.

We had a few others on our list to try such as Rye and Nopa but we decided to randomly try the Occidental Cigar Club. I only agreed because I thought the smokers would be outside. Uh, no. But we stayed because the drinks were cheap, the people normal(ish) and the bartender Lance was sweet. This is a real bar. No fancy cocktails. The “old fashioned” was terrible but I still loved that bartender. Good thing I was drinking whiskey on the rocks by now. Maybe that adrenaline from the bum fight finally faded.

I had to laugh when the bartender laughed at us for talking about “double-straining.” What can I say? Cocktails should be double-strained! He thought I was in the industry and may have slipped us a discount. Go to the Occidental Cigar Club!

Bourbon & Branch

501 Jones Street
San Francisco, CA 94102
(415) 931-7292


246 Kearny Street
San Francisco, CA 94108
(415) 398-2827

Occidental Cigar Club

471 Pine Street
San Francisco, CA 94104-2803
(415) 834-0485