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Bloody Sunday 

A Sunday in search of a great Bloody Mary

Wednesday, May 23 2001
Sunday is the day when you look toward heaven to see if the drinking weather is good. Chances are, it will be good enough, because no matter what the forecast -- sun, rain, fog, looming apocalypse -- Sunday is also the day when you drink Bloody Marys. They make a fine one at the Ramp: the traditional celery stalk, a bracing dose of pepper, plus extra Tabasco, Worcestershire, and horseradish at the bar. Today the sun is bright and the wind a bit chilly, leading to a moderate crowd (by Ramp standards). You won't find a free table after 4 p.m., but at least the bathroom lines will be short.

The scene works for Teddi, who begins a seated calypso shuffle on the bayside patio as the trilling, steel drum sounds of Tropical Vibration kick in. "Today we went all the way to Moss Beach expecting to find sun," she says. "Then we came back into the city and realized it was nice here, so we were bummed we ever left." Elsewhere at the Ramp, fresh-from-the-game Giants fans scope out babes, while a salty old character named Robert Newrock ("Painter of the Unconscious") hasn't wandered far from home. "That's my boat," he says, pointing to the wood-hulled Mau Mau at the end of the pier. He's traveled the world five times, but today he's focused on simple pleasures: "Nice beats, mellow people, and very good ribs" (thanks to the barbecue).

"Would you care for one?" he asks. "Take the whole rib, brother." It's got a nice crispness and a sharp, saucy tang, but it certainly isn't the only Sunday 'cue in town. For example, the beast is smoking over at Zeitgeist, where the graffiti on the door says "No dotcom dicks," though on a brighter note dogs are allowed. Here the Bloodies come with olives, pickled green beans, a splash of bean juice, and a good, clean horseradish kick. Out back, rows of picnic benches host a cycle-friendly (motor-, bi-) crowd of regulars -- "If we say, "I'm going to the bar,' we all know that this is it," says Abbey. Hector, who lives upstairs, has ventured down to play chess, catch some rays, drink Bloodies, and fill his hookah with a gooey-looking blend of tobacco and apple molasses.

"It just tastes good," he says, and his friend in the green overcoat seems to agree (they punctuate their agreement with a high-five). Of course, nothing tastes better than a Bloody at Haight Street's Club Deluxe, where the mix comes with pickled beans, a pickled onion, pepperoncinis, celery, cucumber, a cherry tomato, a baby carrot, and a trio of DJs spinning rare '60s tracks. Chip recommends a Bloody even though he's sipping Pabst -- "Well, if you want to buy me one, I'll drink it," he says. Jill (as in Jill Tracy & Her Malcontent Orchestra) has come because she played the Deluxe last night. "I left some equipment here, so I decided to pick it up and figured I might as well stay for a couple Bloody Marys."

Then comes El Rio, where management wants to keep Sundays quiet due to an occasional problem called overcrowding. So let's be negative: On hot, sultry Sundays you'll never get in, while today's coolish weather means the bar is half empty. The garden patio offers little room to dance with a mixed (gay/lesbian/straight) crowd, most of whom work it with a wild-hipped limberness to the zesty Latin tunes of Gitano. Like most drinks at El Rio, the Bloodies are tiny; the free omnivore barbecue has closed by 6:30; and the roses handed out by Pablo the doorman don't smell like much at all. Even worse, if you like malcontents, you'll find none whatsoever.

"There's something for everybody," says Dan.

"I love it!" screams Jeff.

"If anywhere is paradise, this is it," says Salvador.

About The Author

Greg Hugunin

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