The Lush

Bar News & Reviews (put it on my tab)
May 17, 2022
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The hidden-away Bar Nonnina at Fiorella Sunset. Photo by Kelly Puleio.

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The Slushy di Modena (a Lambrusco slushy) at Bar Nonnina. Photo by Kelly Puleio.

Fiorella owners Boris Nemchenok and Brandon Gillis just keep on pushing—opening Wednesday May 18th is ~BAR NONNINA~, a hidden-away rooftop bar inside Fiorella’s new Inner Sunset location. The standing room-only bar (with room for 14) has its own cocktail list and bar snacks, including the Slushy di Modena (a Lambrusco slushy) made with Italian gin, Piedmontese amaro, Sicilian blood orange liqueur, lemon, lambrusco, and shaved ice from a Japanese ice machine; Colapesce: kombu-infused vodka, dry vermouth, hickory-smoked olive brine; and Sophia Loren: tequila, grapefruit, elderflower, lime, Prosecco (there are six in all from Fiorella Group bar director Dylan Henry). You can order a cocktail flight ($25) that includes three mini cocktails (or enjoy three cocktails and three small plate pairings for $75).

Fancy snacks from Fiorella Sunset chef Scott Schneider include cheesy potato croquettes, an Italian steak tartare, and a salad of frutti di mare (mussels, clams, calamari, shrimp, colatura vinaigrette). I’m also happy to see a version of the Venetian sgroppino on there, a wonderful after-dinner or late-night drink, here called the Scorppino, with lemon sorbet, Prosecco, and chamomile-infused grappa. You can always book dinner for before or after your visit.

The space (designed by STUDIO by Lark) includes a green marble cocktail bar and communal, bar-height wood tables, plus a fireplace, pastoral mural wallpaper, and a vintage Italian chandelier, all hiding behind a pocket door. Reservations recommended. Open Wed-Sun 5pm-10pm. 1240 9th Ave. at Lincoln.

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Coming up on Saturday June 4th in San Francisco is The Vinguard’s signature event, WINeFare, a wine tasting event featuring 40 womxn-owned natural wineries and importers who will be pouring at the Haight Street Art Center. In addition to hundreds of wines, there will be ciders, co-ferments, and rice wine. WINeFare was the first and quite possibly remains the only wine tasting event in the world featuring womxn in the natural wine movement.

The Vinguard is from founder Pamela Busch, who opened the second wine bar in San Francisco in 1994, Hayes & Vine (I loved that place) and later, CAV Wine Bar & Kitchen in 2005. She started the (now nonprofit) The Vinguard in 2013, inspired by and in response to the discrimination she experienced (sexism, homophobia, and agism) in the wine industry throughout her career. The Vinguard created WINeFare in 2018 to give womxn in natural wine a platform for their work as they were often shut out and sidelined. WINeFare provides a safe haven and space for womxn at wine tastings where everyone feels respected and valued. Read more about what makes WINeFare different.

Don’t miss this event, whose slogan this year is: Make Wine, Not War on Womxn’s Bodies. Cheers to that. Tickets are $45; discounts are available for essential workers, educators, students, seniors, and food and beverage industry workers. 1pm-5pm, Haight Street Art Center, 215 Haight St. at Laguna.

May 4, 2022
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Bites and drinks at the new Lobby Bar. Photo: Kelly Puleio via @lobbybarsf.

Here’s a quick update on a couple new bars that have opened up around town, starting with ~LOBBY BAR~ in the Hotel Castro, with a “retroglam” style, serving a full list of $15 cocktails and bar snacks, plus a couple flatbreads and a turkey burger (surprised it comes on a bun with fries—ooh, carbs!). Open Mon-Thu 4pm-12am, Fri 4pm-2am, Sat 2pm-2am, and Sun 2pm-12am. 4230 18th St. at Castro. [Via Hoodline]

Another retro-styled bar is ~FOR THE RECORD~ bar from Barry John Walsh (previously Future Bars), serving craft cocktails and bar bites from consulting chef Frank Hua (Unco Frank’s), in the former Mina Test Kitchen and U Dessert Story space in Cow Hollow/Marina. Open Tue-Thu 5pm-12am, Fri-Sat 5pm-2am, Sun 3pm-12am. 2120 Greenwich St. at Fillmore. [Via Eater]

April 12, 2022
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The current bar and interior of Noir Lounge, soon to be converted to Gambit Lounge. Photo courtesy of Noir Lounge.

After nine years of business, ~NOIR LOUNGE~ in Hayes Valley is closing this Saturday April 16th. Taking over the space is Cezar Kusik (Rubicon, Butterfly, 25 Lusk) and Edward Calhoun (Southpaw, Dogpatch Saloon, Peacekeeper, 25 Lusk), who will be opening ~GAMBIT LOUNGE~ in a couple months or so. The duo have been looking for a location for three years, and this will be Cezar’s first independent project, after always working for great people, like Larry Stone.

Cezar is going to be focused on building a quality wine program, while Ed will be offering great classic cocktails and select spirits. They plan to offer a sophisticated adult atmosphere, with some speakeasy vibes. There’s the main bar, a communal table area, and they’re going to convert the back area into a Champagne lounge, where they will project films. The décor will have artistic touches and some jazz themes at the communal table. They want to offer Hayes Valley a place for a sophisticated wine and bar experience—the wine list will fulfill their savvy SF clientele’s needs, with wines that offer quality and value, with some well-rounded international selections, with a premium wine list, too (there will be 60-80 bottles in all).

Some small plates will be offered on a medium-sized menu, with eclectic dishes inspired by diverse Eastern and Central European kitchens (Cezar is Polish and quite the cook). They’re currently testing and dialing in their kitchen team and menu. Stand by for more updates on this summertime project. 581 Hayes St. at Laguna.