Category Archives: Lounges & Bars

A Nolet’s Vesper at The Big 4 restaurant and bar, San Francisco

Vesper @ Big 4 Dec 2014
A Nolet’s Vesper at The Big 4

During my 2014 winter holiday travels in the San Francisco Bay Area I made the trek to a few of the wonderful bars and lounges, both historic and new, that San Francisco has to offer.

I remembered that my old friend Peter Mintun once played (for 16 years) at the famous L’Etoile restaurant and bar on Nob Hill, and that it (and the Huntington Hotel it is part of) had recently undergone a multi-million dollar restoration.  The restaurant and bar had changed previously into The Big 4, and the hotel is now known as the Scarlet Huntington San Francisco.  Happily, they have kept the historic feel to the bar and restaurant, and it feels like walking into a piece of San Francisco history.  What a wonderful respite from an afternoon of shopping, and a climb up the famously steep Taylor street to the top of Nob Hill.  The cocktail menu features several classics as well as contemporary craft cocktail creations.  I was treated to a classic Vesper (Ian Fleming’s famous creation from his 1953 novel Casino Royale) made with Nolet’s gin, which brings light floral notes to the vodka and lillet.  Why didn’t I think of using Nolet’s for this cocktail!  I will from now on.

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The Stork Club

One of the posh Manhattan destinations on anyone’s list during its heyday, which was just about the entire time it was in operation, being seen at The Stork Club meant you had officially ‘arrived’.  Opened in 1929 by ex-bootlegger Sherman Billingsley, influential columnist Walter Winchell called it “New York’s New Yorkiest place on West 58th.”  Indeed, it was located on West 58th Street for the first 5 years of its existence, then when prohibition ended it moved to 3 East 53rd Street where it would remain until its final day of operation on October 4th, 1965.  The building was demolished in 1966, and Paley Park now stands in its place.

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No. 209 classic martini at Waterbar, San Francisco, California

A classic martini at the Waterfront Bar on the bay with the San Francisco Bay Bridge in the background.

I visited my friends and relatives in the San Francisco Bay Area over the holidays in November and December of 2014, and of the many restaurants and bars I frequented during my stay, one of my favorites turned out to be Waterbar on the bay almost underneath the San Francisco Bay Bridge.  As you can see from the photo, the views from just about everywhere in the bar and restaurant are spectacular.  I was impressed with the variety of spirits they have on hand, and since I was in San Francisco I had to have a classic martini (gin, vermouth, orange bitters) made with a gin distilled right there on the wharf, No. 209.  I had a number of them while I watched the light show on the bridge!