Now that the gays are all getting registered at CB2, the unsettling closure of so many gay bars the last couple years felt like it was about to become outright apocalyptic. But then spaces like Brass Tacks and Virgil's Sea Room started opening up, and the anxiety abated some.
Well, Folsom Street Kok Bar (formerly Chaps II, and My Place before that) shuttered some months back, and its replacement Driftwood isn't a proper gay bar either. It is, in the words of co-owner Chris Milstead, "straight-friendly."
Not to be confused with the nearby gallery Driftwood Salon four blocks away, this straightforward cocktail joint transformed what was once a dark den of iniquity with chains and corrugated metal -- and not that there isn't a place for that aesthetic! -- into more of a, well, den. Burnt orange upholstery, a wooden seal sculpture curved around a ball, cheesy nautical paintings, a starfish tacked on the wall and a bar made of bronze -- there's rather some deliciously tacky queerbait in there. (There's also a record player to which you can bring your own LPs.)
Beyond draft beer, Driftwood's got a pleasantly pared-down list of seven $9 cocktails, many of them tweaked classics. An acquaintance noted that the Bosun's Knot (rye, green Chartreuse, sweet vermouth and bitters) and the Hemisphere (dark rum, muddled coffee beans, sugar and bitters) make a fine "first and last cocktail, respectively." For the middle, you won't err with a Black Scotsman (blended Scotch, blackberry, lemon, sugar and egg white).
The crowd, mixed and relaxed, clearly approves of this straight-friendly bar. The concept might overreach slightly when buttoned-down folk see what found fixture Driftwood retained in its front restroom, though. We're not telling -- do see for yourself.
Driftwood, 1219 Folsom St. (at 8th St.).