Whiskey cocktail

Inside Bottle Club Pub, San Francisco’s New Tribute to American Whiskey

San Francisco’s newest destination bar is here: The Bottle Club Pub, the latest watering hole from the Future Bars team, is bringing big Mad Men energy in the Union Square neighborhood on Wednesday, March 23. Located in the former Olympic Cafe space at 555 Geary Street, the Bottle Club Pub (previously called Heyday Pub & Bottle Club) is inspired by the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s; the bar is centered on vintage ceramic whiskey decanters with dozens of collectible bottles on display via a bank of 20-foot-tall shelves running along one wall.

Future Bars co-founders Brian Sheehy, Doug Dalton and Bottle Club general manager Jayson Wilde claim to have amassed what may be the largest selection of ceramic whiskey decanters in the world, thanks in part to a few friends and enthusiasts who have offered their entire collections to the bar. In total, they estimate they have around 1,000 decanters — ranging from a seductively dressed fox in a top hat to a map of the United States to a sky-blue cable car climbing a hill in San Francisco — either on shelves or in storage. They plan to spin the bottles on display in the bar so decanter collectors can come and check them out.

Patricia Chang

The bottle theme also translates to the menu. Wilde’s drink list includes 12 cocktails divided into “invigorating and refreshing” or “daring” categories. This latter group, which includes Mr. Sandman, a mix of rye, vermouth, coconut and espresso, can be ordered either in single servings or in large-format cocktails that arrive at the table in any of these ceramic carafes. These are not pre-metered Wilde strains; so they always mix and shake each drink to order, then transfer the cocktails to a carafe for show. And as a throwback to those sugary disco drinks of the 1970s, there’s also a trio of dessert cocktails on the list, including a Mudslide Slim made with Irish and French vanilla cream, vodka, Kahula, chocolate and topped with whipped cream.

Chances are you want something to put in your stomach with decanters of whiskey cocktails, so Bottle Club is the first of the Future Bars projects, which includes speakeasy Bourbon & Branch and tiki oasis Pagan Idol , to offer food . (Plus, the kitchen was already there, Sheehy says.) It’s a small menu, but consultant chef Matt Lowe says he made sure there was enough choice to attract neighborhood regulars — that means customers of all ages, since Bottle Club will be kid-friendly if you want to let your little one munch on a smashburger and an apple crisp while the adults share a pack leader (rye, banana, vermouth Punt e Mes) . Perhaps the star is the fish and chips, which seemed like a mandatory offering with “pub” in the bar’s name, Lowe says; it’s a simple preparation of golden fried cod served with malt vinegar and tartar sauce.

A plate of fish and chips.

A drink with chocolate syrup and whipped cream on top.

Designed by the team at Future Bars and designer Andrea Gifford, the bar’s vaulted ceilings and beautiful brick details may surprise anyone who saw the space when it came to the Olympic Cafe. The building dates from the early 20th century, Sheehy says, and over the years someone has covered both the brickwork and a skylight in the roof. Now, Future Bars has restored the space to some of its original glory, creating a surprisingly sunny space that they’ve modernized with gold and black Art Deco details and bold neon green accents.

There is a perfect mezzanine to look at the bar below, as well as to have a different view of this collection of carafes which extends almost from floor to ceiling. It will eventually be available as a private dining space, but for now, Sheehy says customers can walk around on their own to peek at the vintage beer and whiskey adverts strewn across the walls. . The most eye-catching feature, aside from the decanters themselves, is the rear bar: to highlight the bar’s vast selection of American and Japanese whiskeys and scotch, mechanized shelves slowly rotate up and down. True, it’s also to make sure bartenders can get to everything since they’ve chosen not to install ladders, but the effect is undeniably thrilling.

From a mezzanine, shelves display a collection of vintage ceramic carafes.

Looking down from the mezzanine towards the Bottle Club Pub bar.

General Manager Jayson Wilde mixes a cocktail in a small glass.

A sparkling cocktail in a fluted glass with an orange wheel garnish.

Bottle Club Pub (555 Geary Street) opens Wednesday, March 26 and will be open 5 p.m. to midnight Wednesday and Thursday, 5 p.m. to 2 a.m. Friday and Saturday, and 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Sunday.