KQED Food Blog: Bay Area Bites: Sippin' Ain't Easy: Bourbon & Branch
Bay Area Bites: culinary rants & raves from bay area foodies and professionals
Previous Posts
Michael Pollan & John Mackey
Late February at the Farmers' Market
Culinary School Advice
Memories of Philippine Kitchens
Dorie Greenspan ~ Live and Online in Paris, Part I...
Mojito Coast
Fix-it and Forget-it?
Apples for Jam, Tessa Kiros
Goose Dinner, A (Sumptuous) Belated Holiday Affair...
Pani Puri
 
 
BAB Guidelines

'Bay Area Bites' is part of KQED's Blog Authors Collaborative. Blog contributors and commentators are solely responsible for their content. If you're interested in writing or contributing to a blog on kqed.org, email us with your idea.
 
Wednesday, February 28, 2007
Sippin' Ain't Easy: Bourbon & Branch
I went, I drank, I conquered.

Although the reservation and password hoop-jumping smacks of exclusivity and a certain snobbishness, when you see the neighborhood you see why it might be practical. Right on the corner of O'Farrell and Jones, Bourbon & Branch is firmly in the Tenderloin. I haven't exactly been taking advantage of restaurants, bars, shops, and cafes that are apparently turning this neighborhood into the Trendyloin, and now I know why. Maybe it's my Twin Cities upbringing, but I don't exactly relish walking down blocks that smell of urine and having local denizens spit at me and growl crazily as I try to look like I know where I'm going. Given that sort of thing, I understand why Bourbon & Branch might not want to have their unmarked door thrown wide to the general public.

Davina and I stood under the Anti-Saloon League sign while I grappled for the buzzer and croaked my password. The door swung open to reveal a smiling face and we were welcomed and ushered to our table. Inside, Bourbon & Branch is dark and darling. Spiky frosted glass chandeliers swing and toss their gentle cotton balls of light against mottled mirrors and the hammered copper ceiling. The cute little wooden booths have cute little wooden tables that are just wide enough to hold your drinks and just narrow enough remind you that this is not a restaurant.

After many trips to Absinthe, I have finally drunk myself to a point where I had effectively sampled all the cocktails that interested me and could leave the rest. Faced with Bourbon & Branch's massive cocktail menu, I was back at square one. I'd light on a cocktail that I was definitely going to order and I'd be all, "Check it out, this one has THYME in it!" and then a few pages and a dozen cocktail descriptions later and I'd totally forget what that original cocktail was because, "Ooh, hang on -- THIS one has pimento dram in it. Wait, what's pimento dram? I'm getting that one. No, but hang on..." and so on and so forth. I'll tell you what, I really could have used those shameless shopping stickies Lucky Magazine is so proud of.

For some reason I was expecting all the cocktails to be upwards of fifteen dollars, but there were far more ten-dollar cocktails than anything else, and since that shruggingly seems to be the average price of cocktails in the Bay Area, I wasn't bothered. The drinks are pure and clean and inventive. After the delightful Prosecco-based amuse bouche cocktail they offered us -- a cocktail amuse bouche? I'm loving this idea! -- I started out with a delicious and refreshing Cracked Thumb (gin, lemon oil, elderflower syrup, mint). Given that I'm a gin girl and elderflower really crushes my ice, it was sort of a safe bet for me. What wasn't a safe bet was my order of an Aperol Spritz. Davina, who likes Campari, encouraged me, who does not like Campari, to give it a whirl. I did and I liked. Maybe it's the gentian and rhubarb, but I found the Aperol to be a kinder, gentler version of its bitter, angry spinster aunt.

My one complaint is that when Davina asked our server if the bartender could concoct something using gin and falernum, the server was clearly rattled. Bartenders do this all the time -- hello? It's pretty much their job description -- so this shouldn't have been a big deal. It's not like Davina asked for something bizarre like hot chocolate, benedictine, and Cynar. I don't blame the bartender, who did pour out something delicious, I just don't think the server should have acted as though it was a weird or inconvenient request.

Some out there are already sneering that B&B "ripped off" Milk and Honey's concept. Well, but see, Milk and Honey is in New York, and I'm in San Francisco and B&B is in San Francisco, so I say rip away! I mean really, isn't the country large enough for several of these speakeasies? I would certainly hope so.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

 
 

3 Comments:

Anonymous Karen said...

My husband and I went there recently. I wouldn't go there frequently -- maybe with guests, now that I've been there once. Cocktails were tasty, and gave us lots of fodder for home-based drinks, but our server was a bit standoffish. I think it might be more fun to sit at the bar.

3/01/2007 8:09 PM

 
Blogger Davina Baum said...

I'm embarrassed to say I've been back twice since this visit, Stephanie. They make good cocktails! I fear it's worth all (or at least some of) the artifice. Last night as our reservation was ticking down and our waitress was starting to hustle us out, she told us we could also go back into the "library," for which you don't need reservations. Good to know... for next time?

3/03/2007 7:07 PM

 
Blogger Stephanie V.W. Lucianovic said...

Why are you embarrassed? I think the cocktails and ambiance are fab, I just don't love the neighborhood. While I'm not rushing back, I certainly will be back some time.

3/03/2007 8:45 PM

 

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home

Locate CP Restaurants:
Check, Please! Google Map
 
KQED Food Sites
Check, Please! Bay Area
Jacques Pépin Celebrates!
Jacques Pépin:
Fast Food My Way
Jacques Pépin:
The Apprentice
Jacques Pépin:
The Complete Pépin
KQED Wine Club
KQED.org Cooking
Weir Cooking in the City
 
Tasty Food Sites
CHOW
Chowhound SF
Crushpad
CUESA
CulinaryCorps
Eat Local Challenge
Edible San Francisco
Epicurious
eGullet.org
Food Network
Food Talk
Group Recipes
Hungry Magazine
KTEH Food
Leite's Culinaria
Locavores
Mighty Foods
NPR: Food
Om Organics
Serious Eats
SFGate: Food
SFGate: Wine
SF Station: Restaurants
Slow Food SF
Top Chef
Wikimedia Commons: Food & Drink
Yahoo! Food
Yelp: Reviews
 
Tangy Food Blogs
101 Cookbooks
A Full Belly
Accidental Hedonist
agoodfoodblog
An Obsession with Food
Anna's Cool Finds
Becks & Posh
Between Meals
Blogsoop
Bunny Foot
Butter Pig
Cellar Rat
Chez Pim
Chocolate & Zucchini
Confessions of a
Restaurant Whore
Cooking For Engineers
Cooking with Amy
Cucina Testa Rossa
Culinary Muse
Denise's Kitchen
Digesty-SF
Eater SF
Eggbeater
Extramsg.com
Feed & Supply
Food Blog S'cool
Food Musings
Food Porn Watch
Gastronomie
Hedonia
I'm Mad and I Eat
In Praise of Sardines
Jatbar
Knife's Edge
Life Begins at 30
Love and Cooking
MeatHenge
Mental Masala
Moveable Feast
Nosheteria
Organic Day
Passionate Eater
San Francisco Gourmet
SF City Eats
Simply Recipes
Spicetart
The Amateur Gourmet
Tablehopper
The Ethicurean
The Food Section
The Grub Report
The Petite Pig
The Wine Makers Wife
Vin Divine
Vinography
VirgoBlue
Wandering Spoon
Well Fed Network
Word Eater
World on a Plate
Yummy Chow
 
 
   
Search BAB

Eye Candy: Food Photos
BAB on flickr.com
Join Flickr for free and share your photos with the Bay Area Bites and Beyond group pool.
 
Food Books
 
The Moosewood Cookbook
by Mollie Katzen
 
Baking: From My Home to Yours
by Dorie Greenspan
 
Grand Livre de Cuisine: Alain Ducasse's Desserts and Pastries
by Alain Ducasse, Frederic Robertmison
 
The Big Book of Outdoor Cooking and Entertaining
by Cheryl Alters Jamison, Bill Jamison
 
Tasty: Get Great Food on the Table Every Day
by Roy Finamore
 
Whole Grains Every Day, Every Way
by Lorna Sass
 
The Soul of a New Cuisine: A Discovery of the Foods and Flavors of Africa
by Marcus Samuelsson
 
Michael Mina: The Cookbook
by Michael Mina, Photographer: Karl Petzktle
 
What to Eat
by Marion Nestle
 
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals
by Michael Pollan
 
Essence of Chocolate: Recipes for Baking and Cooking with Fine Chocolate
by John Scharffenberger, Robert Steinberg
 
Romancing the Vine: Life, Love, and Transformation in the Vineyards of Barolo
by Alan Tardi
 
What to Drink with What You Eat: The Definitive Guide to Pairing Food with Wine, Beer, Spirits, Coffee, Tea -- Even Water -- Based on Expert Advice from America's Best Sommeliers
by Andrew Dornenburg, Karen Page, Michael Sofronski
 
The Lee Bros. Southern Cookbook: Stories and Recipes for Southerners and Would-be Southerners
by Matt Lee, Ted Lee
 
Bread Matters: The State of Modern Bread and a Definitive Guide to Baking Your Own
by Andrew Whitley
 
Coloring the Seasons: A Cook's Guide
by Allegra McEvedy
 
All-new Complete Cooking Light Cookbook
by Anne C. Cain
 
Modern Garde Manger
by Robert B. Garlough
 
The Spice and Herb Bible
by Ian Hemphill, Kate Hemphill
 
The Improvisational Cook
by Sally Schneider
 
Lunch Lessons: Changing the Way We Feed Our Children
by Ann Cooper, Lisa M. Holmes
 
Cradle of Flavor: Home Cooking from the Spice Islands of Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia
by James Oseland
 
My Life in France
by Julia Child, Alex Prud'Homme
 
A Passion for Ice Cream: 95 Recipes for Fabulous Desserts
by Emily Luchett, Sheri Giblin (photographer)
 
Au Pied De Cochon -- The Album
by Martin Picard
 
Memories of Philippine Kitchens
by Amy Besa, Romy Dorotan
 
Simple Chinese Cooking
by Kylie Kwong
 
 
An Invitation to Indian Cooking
by Madhur Jaffrey
 
Hungry Planet
by Peter Menzel, Faith D'Aluisio
 
Sunday Suppers at Lucques : Seasonal Recipes from Market to Table
by Suzanne Goin, Teri Gelber
 
Simple Soirees: Seasonal Menus for Sensational Dinner Parties
by Peggy Knickerbocker, Christopher Hirsheimer (Photographer)
 
The Cook's Book
by Jill Norman
 
Molto Italiano : 327 Simple Italian Recipes to Cook at Home
by Mario Batali
 
Nobu Now
by Nobuyuki Matsuhisa
 
Cheese : A Connoisseur's Guide to the World's Best
by Max Mccalman, David Gibbons
 
Bones : Recipes, History, and Lore
by Jennifer McLagan
 
Whiskey : The Definitive World Guide
by Michael Jackson
 
The New American Cooking
by Joan Nathan
 
ChocolateChocolate
by Lisa Yockelson
 
Easy Entertaining: Everything You Need to Know About Having Parties at Home
by Darina Allen
 
Cooking at De Gustibus: Celebrating 25 Years of Culinary Innovation
by Arlene Feltman Sailhac
 
Dough: Simple Contemporary Breads
by Richard Bertinet
 
Chocolate Obsession: Confections and Treats to Create and Savor
by Michael Recchiuti, Fran Gage, Maren Caruso
 
The Food Substitutions Bible: More Than 5,000 Substitutions for Ingredients, Equipment And Techniques
by David Joachim
 
Recipes: A Collection for the Modern Cook
by Susan Spungen
 
Spices of Life: Simple and Delicious Recipes for Great Health
by Nina Simonds
 
Mangoes & Curry Leaves: Culinary Travels Through the Great Subcontinent
by Jeffrey Alford, Naomi Duguid
 
Chocolate: A Bittersweet Saga of Dark and Light
by Mort Rosenblum
 
Vegetable Love: A Book for Cooks
by Barbara Kafka, Christopher Styler
 
A History of Wine in America: From Prohibition to the Present
by Thomas Pinney
 
Fonda San Miguel: Thirty Years Of Food And Art
by Tom Gilliland, Miguel Ravago, Virginia B. Wood
 
Matzoh Ball Gumbo: Culinary Tales of the Jewish South
by Marcie Cohen Ferris
 
Washoku: Recipes From The Japanese Home Kitchen
by Elizabeth Andoh, Leigh Beisch
 
 
Weir Cooking in the City: More than 125 Recipes and Inspiring Ideas for Relaxed Entertaining
by Joanne Weir
 
Rick Stein's Complete Seafood
by Rick Stein
 
The Great Scandinavian Baking Book
by Beatrice A. Ojakangas
 
Serena, Food & Stories: Feeding Friends Every Hour of the Day
by Serena Bass
 
John Ash: Cooking One on One: Private Lessons in Simple, Contemporary Food from a Master Teacher
by John Ash
 
The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook: Eating Well for Better Health
by Donald Hensrud, M.D., Jennifer Nelson, R.D. & Mayo Clinic Staff
 
Foods of the Americas: Native Recipes and Traditions
by Fernando and Marlene Divina
 
The Provence Cookbook
by Patricia Wells
 
Olive Trees and Honey: A Treasury of Vegetarian Recipes from Jewish Communities Around the World
by Gil Marks
 
Last Chance to Eat: The Fate of Taste in a Fast Food World
by Gina Mallet
 
Bouchon
by Thomas Keller
 
A Blessing of Bread: The Many Rich Traditions of Jewish Bread Baking Around the World
by Maggie Glezer
 
All About Braising: The Art of Uncomplicated Cooking
by Molly Stevens
 
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen
by Harold McGee
 
Entertaining: Inspired Menus For Cooking with Family and Friends
by George Dolese
 
The Breath of a Wok: Unlocking the Spirit of Chinese Wok Cooking Through Recipes and Lore
by Grace Young, Alan Richardson
 
Cooking New American: How to Cook the Food You Love to Eat
by Fine Cooking Magazine
 
The Japanese Kitchen: A Book of Essential Ingredients with 200 Authentic Recipes
by Kimiko Barber
 
Arthur Schwartz's New York City Food: An Opinionated History and More Than 100 Legendary Recipes
by Arthur Schwartz
 
Poet of the Appetites: The Lives and Loves of M.F.K. Fisher
by Joan Reardon
 
Bread: A Baker's Book of Techniques and Recipes
by Jeffrey Hamelman
 
Everyday Dining with Wine
by Andrea Immer
 
 
Copyright © 2005-2008 KQED. All rights reserved.