When Bloodhound opened in 2008 (making it 36 in dog years), that stretch of Folsom was a rather lonely one with a few outlier clubs and leather shops. The bar's success and longevity is certainly due in part to the bartending skills that owner Dylan O'Brien honed over the years, but also because it has effectively juggled the role of being both destination and neighborhood bar. As the area saw an increase of housing and office development, Bloodhound took the opportunity to offer more, like being an early supporter of the food truck movement with the Chairman and Casey's Pizza food trucks regularly setting up in front of the bar.
Since then, O'Brien has gone on to open up Prizefighter in the craft cocktail-emergent East Bay with Jon Santer. With all those changes, including a new menu (see the full menu below), I was curious if the dog could still hunt.
The brisk walk down 7th Street from Market (dodging and weaving), I decided to start off with something tart and thirst-quenching from the new menu. The Flor De Jalisco ($9, Chinaco Blanco Tequila, lemon, pineapple syrup, sloe gin, soda, bitters) by Alicia Walton (who also tends bar at Comstock Saloon) was exactly what I needed; not fruity or sweet, but with enough of each flavor to compliment the tequila.
The hunting-shed chic space appropriately features a new section of the cocktail menu entirely devoted to variations on the Old Fashioned, like the wonderfully rich and layered The Woodsman ($9, Rittenhouse 100-proof Rye, honey, allspice dram, Fernet Branca, lemon peel). The drink reads like a one of those terrifying shots the inexperienced consider fun, but the flavors lock in together into one of those greater-than-the-sum-of-its-parts elixirs. The fernet adds depth rather than clobbering everything, the honey adds a light earthy sweetness, and the rye ties it in all together. Mounted like a hunting trophy in the glass is a fat single cube of ice, enhancing the drink with cold, but slow dilution and elegance.
So has the opening of Prizefighter influenced Bloodhound? While you can tell they're related, they are far from the same. O'Brien explained that he considers Prizefighter to be the sophisticated younger of Bloodhound, and that both bars endeavor to be comfortable and unpretentious. "At its core, Bloodhound is a whiskey bar with a strong beer program where you can get a great cocktail if you like," he says. "Prizefighter is a cocktail bar with you a strong spirits selection where you can have an awesome beer if you like."
No matter what drink you bag, you won't get any decoys at Bloodhound.
By Steve Post
2 oz. Rittenhouse 100-proof Rye Whiskey
¼ oz. Fernet
1/8 oz. Honey Syrup
1/8 oz. Allspice Dram
Add all ingredients to a rocks glass over a very large ice cube. Stir briefly and garnish with a lemon peel.
The new menu:
Telegraph Hill ($10)
bourbon, Melleti Amaro, french vermouth, orange peel
-- inspired by the Cobble Hill Cocktail - Sam Ross, Milk & Honey, NYC
Cuffs & Buttons ($9)
rye whiskey, peach brandy, italian vermouth, bitters, orange peel
mezcal, Aperol, Punt é Mes
gin, fino sherry, maraschino liqueur, orange bitters, absinthe
-- adapted from A.S. Crockett, Old Waldorf Astoria Bar Book, 1935
Delmarva Cocktail ($10)
bourbon, lemon, dry vermouth, creme de menthe
-- Ted Haigh, "Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails"
bourbon, ginger beer, lime, elderflower liqueur
Daiquiri La Peche ($9)
rum, lime, peach brandy, gomme syrup cinammon bitters
vodka (or gin or tequila), campari, grapefruit
Flor De Jalisco ($9)
blanco tequila, lemon, pineapple syrup, sloe gin, soda, bitters
tequila/mezcal, sangrita, cerveza
The Classic ($8)
bonded rye whiskey, aromatic bitters, gomme syrup, lemon peel
Old Dutch ($9)
genever, gomme syrup, aromatic bitters, peach bitters, lemon peel
The Woodsman ($9)
bonded rye whiskey, honey, allspice dram, fernet, lemon peel
New Fashioned ($9)
single barrel bourbon, aromatic bitters, maple syrup, orange peel
Bloodhound, 1145 Folsom (at 7th), 863-2840