Neutral territory is not something you find very often in bars. But what if the bar sits in an intersection where the Castro, Mission, and Lower Haight all meet? Far enough away to be in none of them officially, but near enough to be in all of them is Blackbird, a bar that attracts some of the most diverse crowds in San Francisco. Belly up to the bar, and in the course of a few rounds you will meet people from all of those neighborhoods and beyond.
The charm of the bar is its ability to appeal to a wide range of lifestyles, but more importantly tastes. With 10 beers on tap, a half-dozen or so well-curated wines, and a seasonal cocktail menu that completely changes a few times a year (including a couple of barrel-aged drinks), even the most motley group will find something they enjoy. Owner and bar manager Shawn Vergara notes, "We try to make sure we hit a number of drink styles and flavors based on our clientele's preferences."
Vergara's cocktail, the Poached Pear ($9, pear-infused gin, honey, lemon, Lambrusco sparkling wine) is a drink that manages to be simple, elegant, yet delightfully different. The secret is the use of the fizzy northern Italian Lambrusco, that adds just enough bubbles and sweetness. The dried pear infused gin veers fruity, the juniper and botanicals adding more structure and spice than the expected hit of evergreen. And yes, it tastes a lot like a poached pear, but not as sweet, just well-balanced.
Being a hard
drinking hitting reporter, I needed to try one of the most popular drinks in the house. Bartender Gina Butler's Slurrrpee ($8, cherry vodka, orgeat, apple juice, lime) is served in a glass with crushed ice, garnished with a lime wheel, cherries, and a dusting of nutmeg. It tasted like the best slushie you've every had. It's not a highbrow drink, but it's a heck of a lot of fun, and one that fools you, with the vodka almost completely camouflaged. On the geekier side, the oak-barrel-aged The King's Men ($10, Famous Grouse Black Scotch, Kina L'Avion d'Or, Averell Damson Plum Gin Liqueur, cherry-bourbon-vanilla bitters) weaved together the peaty smoke of scotch with herbal sweetness, was more my speed as a flavor-layered sipping cocktail. Enjoy a few and you'll be doing the Humpty Dance (here's your chance to do the hump).
1 oz. Pear infused gin
¾ oz. Honey Syrup (1:1 water:honey)
½ oz. Lemon juice
3 oz. Lambrusco wine
Combine gin, honey syrup, and lemon juice in a shaker with ice. Shake and strain into a champagne glass. Top with Lambrusco.
Blackbird, 2124 Market (at Church), 503-0630