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Dining, Distillations Distillations: La Vie Boheme

Distillations: La Vie Boheme

If a café serves beer, does that make it a bar? If a bar has a dance floor, does that make it a club? These might seem like trivial distinctions — a rose by any other name would be upcharged…
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Dining, Distillations To Live and Die at The Alley

To Live and Die at The Alley

"I'm getting used to the idea that I'll never have children," Jess told me as we approached The Alley in Oakland. "It took a while for me to say 'Okay, this a reality I'm accepting rather than something I'm fighting.'"…
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Dining, Distillations Distillations: Boxing Room

Distillations: Boxing Room

The Boxing Room is underwhelming at first, an open and very wood-filled space with New Orleans kitsch that manages to stay on the right side of "tasteful" but the wrong side of "bland." I sat at the bar, near two…
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Dining, Distillations The Inadequacy of Noire Lounge

The Inadequacy of Noire Lounge

As a live pianist played vaguely familiar tunes at the Noire Lounge, I tell E. that if I ever go back to grad school, I think I'd like to write a dissertation on the semiotics of hipster bar decorations. Take…
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Dining, Distillations Distillations: The Liberties

Distillations: The Liberties

Cocktails on draught are becoming increasingly popular at the kind of bars that want to keep ahead of — or at least in the vicinity of — the cocktail curve. The Liberties, an Irish pub on the edge of the…
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Dining, Distillations When Great Bars Serve Shitty Drinks

When Great Bars Serve Shitty Drinks

"I know this awesome bar in the Mission," Eric said as we hunted for parking. I knew we'd find it. Eric has a 10-word parking mantra that, I swear, always works. "It's got an awesome dive exterior," he said, between…
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Dining, Distillations Chino, Where Patrons Help Bartenders

Chino, Where Patrons Help Bartenders

Where would you be if you weren't here? Have you got an escape plan in mind, when San Francisco's market forces come for you? The question has been on my mind. I'm feeling my fingers slip off the ledge, and…
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Dining, Distillations Keeping the Patient Alive at the Pilsner

Keeping the Patient Alive at the Pilsner

There's a table by the entrance to the Pilsner Inn saying that it's offering unlimited drinks from four beers on tap for $10, with the proceeds going to support AIDS research. They're prosaic beers (I stuck with the Boont Amber…
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Dining, Distillations

Every Past Lover at Trad'r Sam's

Caitlyn saw me on the street, and called out. There was a long pause while we decided whether to hug. We kept a safe distance. But I surprised myself by saying "we can grab coffee while you're still in town."…
Dining, Distillations The Knockout Channels the Odeon

The Knockout Channels the Odeon

I'm going to tell you a ghost story. It's about a bar. About 13 years ago my friend Colin went to the Odeon. It was locked. He and his friends knocked on the door. Somebody answered. "What time do you…
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Dining, Distillations Drowning in Options at Press Club

Drowning in Options at Press Club

"This is the nicest basement I've been to in months," Mari said as we descended the stairs into Press Club with my father. The room is impressive, big with several different bar areas and "living room couch"-style setups — if…
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Dining, Distillations Behind the Paywall at Fat Angel

Behind the Paywall at Fat Angel

Recently, I wrote an article for a publication that has an online paywall. My friend Michael wanted people to read it, so he pasted the entire article into a Facebook post for all his friends. "On the one hand, this…
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Dining, Distillations Lalita and the Crisis of Authenticity

Lalita and the Crisis of Authenticity

Eric is debating whether coding is an art form. On the one hand, coders these days have artistic temperaments — they see themselves as prima donnas rather than as engineers. They keep artistic hours. And code unquestionably has an aesthetic…
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Dining, Distillations Pondering Cafe Culture at Vinyl

Pondering Cafe Culture at Vinyl

Flippit is in town from Chicago for a few days, and he's regaling me with stories about his time in the Chicago improv scene over coffee at Vinyl Coffee & Wine Bar. Flippit has stood this close to greatness. Half…
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Dining, Distillations Failure Succeeds at Iron & Gold in Bernal Heights

Failure Succeeds at Iron & Gold in Bernal Heights

The Black Manhattan has gone from a drink that prompts inquisitive looks to one that's begun appearing on the hippest menus across the city. I've heard three different stories about its origin — including one from a guy who said,…
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Dining, Distillations Ruthless Inefficiency

Ruthless Inefficiency

Sitting at the bar, nursing a glass of absinthe, Lapo tells me that as a Berkeley student he'd wanted to design his own interdisciplinary major. Then he discovered that if you declared as such, you were forced to take a…
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Dining, Distillations Awkward Moments at Churchill

Awkward Moments at Churchill

Years ago, as a cub reporter in a Midwestern college town, I was sent way out across the cornfields to cover the 125th anniversary of the town of Chalmers, Indiana. There, I met plenty of old-timers who proudly told me,…
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Dining, Distillations Is It Ever OK to Send a Drink Back Twice?

Is It Ever OK to Send a Drink Back Twice?

Some of us can spend time with people we dislike just because we think they're pretty. I find that terribly, terribly depressing. It's why I almost never hit on women in bars: I don't like most people. The road from…
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Dining, Distillations Lovely Day for a Guinness

Lovely Day for a Guinness

Not very far up Kearny Street from Market, sharp-eyed observers will discover alleyways filled with tent-covered tables and communal café seating. Turn down one such alley and the neighborhood feels suddenly Continental — like you're in Paris or Venice, waiting…
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Dining, Distillations

A Book-Themed Bar by Way of Borges

Some ideas are always bad, no matter how many new twists you apply or how much technology you throw at them.  Eugenics.  Theocracy.  Trusting Google with personal data.  Swiping right on a picture of a guy with a tiger.  Regular…