The place has been open for mere days and it's only early May but already the award for most intensely aromatic drink of 2013 goes to Southside Spirit House's Vieux Kenner. Like fermented bayou water, this mixological achievement -- which is really composed of Templeton rye, brandy, Carpano Antica Fernet and an orange peel over "one big rock" -- might scare off a few people, but it's perfectly balanced and invigorating. (It's also a pun on a New Orleans suburb).
You know it'll be good when you see the wood bar, lined with caddies of bitters, condiments and various notions, as well Mason jars full of garnishes. And Southside Spirit House is more than just a single cocktail. There's a whole roster of them (including a personal favorite, the Corpse Reviver #2), along with wine and some twelve beers on tap, plus a few "Big Bois," such as a 750 mL of Delirium Tremens.
At 2,000 square feet, it's safe to say this central SoMa joint will fill up with boisterous testosterone on game days. (Probably the dress-shirt-and-no-tie kind, not the tattoo-and-glasses kind. That $24 Big Boi might end up on an expense account, if those still exist.)
In the nosh column, you'll find classic grandpa staples like deviled eggs updated with bacon, jalapeño and crème fraîche, and flatbread pizzas. While waiting on your food, check out that enormous wall of cassettes. How many Hall & Oates tapes are there? Did they cheat with duplicates? You'll have to see for yourself.
Southside achieved one other milestone, too. Imagine the full length of Howard Street, from the Embarcadero to where it peters into South Van Ness. Notice how there isn't a single worthwhile spot on it? (Sorry, Fresh Mex). Mm-hmm, not anymore.
Southside Spirit House, 575 Howard St. (415) 543-5874.
Follow Pete at @wannacyber