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Apr 13, 2011 06:14 PM

SF alternative to Single Barrel, San Jose

A friend has been rhapsodizing about Single Barrel, a speakeasy in San Jose. The Blood and Sand, especially, has him singing their praises all the d---ned time. But I'm not hauling myself down to SJ for a bar. I'm making him come into SF instead. :)

What bar in the city most closely approximates the experience and drink quality? He is, as he says "not a cocktail drinker" but he loves the cocktails at Single Barrel. I have a feeling this is a result of a combination of atmosphere, chit chatting with the bartender, and having a selection of cocktails that are more like hard alcohol and less like a lemon drop.

I'm thinking Bourbon and Branch (or maybe The Wilson, which I haven't visited yet). Or 441 Jones?

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  1. Depends on the day of the week, as Rickhouse can be ridiculously crowded on weekends, but it's a good option.

    15 Romolo. Comstock Saloon. The "Leather Bound Book" at Blackbird, made with tobacco bitters.

    Tues-Thurs nights at Orbit Room, Paul is good at mixing with bourbon and rye.

    But really, if you plan to do this on a Friday or Saturday, Bourbon & Branch or maybe Comstock saloon if they offer reservations for the tables are your best bets. Anywhere else will just be so slammed you won't be giving the bar a fair shake.

    Orbit Room Cafe
    1900 Market St, San Francisco, CA 94102

    15 Romolo
    15 Romolo Pl, San Francisco, CA 94133

    Rickhouse Bar
    246 Kearny St, San Francisco, CA

    Comstock Saloon
    155 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133

    1. It's certainly true the high stakes nature of the evening causes problems. I think you'll have to go to BB. Remember you don't have to drink from the menu there - just describe. Blood and Sand is very popular these days.

      3 Replies
      1. re: bbulkow

        Adding a link to singlebarrel...

        43 W San Salvador St, San Jose, CA 95113

        1. re: bbulkow

          Does anyone know if Single Barrel and BB are related? I noticed the websites are similar in style, and then my friend mentioned both the Blood and Sand and the Laphroaig Project being served at Single Barrel. Seems like it's at least a copycat, if not actually affiliated.

          We've decided to go to Bourbon and Branch and check out The Wilson, OR completely change our expectations and check out Nihon.

          Thanks, all!

          1. re: Pei

            Do try to go with the reservation only part of B&B. The Library (open to the public) of B&B can be crowded and difficult to order a drink. If you want to mimic the intimacy of chit chatting with the bartender, request to be seated at their bar. Otherwise you will be seated in private booths.

            The Wilson Bar is even more quiet and is set up to have a smaller selection of drinks. They offer a 3-course prix fixe style menu, but I am certain you can order drinks ala carte. The Wilson is reservation only as well.

            You might also want to check out the Burritt Room, which isn't a speakeasy but darn well could be since it still remains a hidden lil gem of a bar. You'll definitely get a quieter vibe. They are so dedicated to their craft they don't carry popular liquor brands like Grey Goose or Ketel One.

            Burritt Room
            417 Stockton St, San Francisco, CA 94108