Comparing San Francisco during Prohibition to San Francisco in the early 21st century is definitely a tale of two cities – especially when it comes to finding a good cocktail.
Although there were many secret speakeasies offering hooch for the right price in San Francisco during Prohibition, most people drank at their own risk. Compare that to San Francisco today, where the still booming tech boom has put a new bar or restaurant on every corner.
Where the Prohibition age was marked with short supply and high demand, the age of excess in today's San Francisco is meeting every demand with even more supply. What could the age of none possibly offer the age of more, more, more?
It took a crafty, dedicated and innovative bar like The European to answer that question.
Where the magic happens: the bar of The European. — Photo courtesy of Patrick Crawford
Here's the story that made the bar:
When Prohibition hit the states, those with means went to Europe, where the liquor flowed freely. But the traveling Americans wanted a taste of back home, so they ordered some of their favorites, like an "Old-Fashioned" or a "Mint Julep." Not to be pushed around by the bossy Americans, European bartenders added their own continental flair, and the shaken mix of cultures was brought back to America once Prohibition was over.
The European masters and celebrates this unique line of cocktails.
The European's finest. — Photo courtesy of Tom Molanphy
"The European is just close enough but just far enough from Union Square. It's a haven for those who need a break from the crowds with a good drink," explained GM Jadd Elkeshen. "And there are no TVs blaring, so you can have an actual conversation, which is a rarity with some of the bars in this area."
It's true. This is one of the few bars on this side of Union Square that offers a quiet spot away from bustling Union Square. The interior of The European reflects the sensibility and fashion of the "old country," while the bartenders and patrons reflect all that is shiny and hopeful in San Francisco today.
The European also offers a wonderful bar menu if hunger strikes, and the ingredients in almost anything you sip, bite, nibble or swallow is local and organic.
"We fresh-squeeze all of our juices before our shifts," explains bartender Shirley Brooks. "Our ginger beer is made here. We basically have a wine cellar for our ginger beer."
Bartender Shirley Brooks mixes it up at The European. — Photo courtesy of Patrick Crawford
The European is part of a recent $8 million renovation of the Warwick Hotel grounds, which also includes Aveline restaurant. If you don't want to settle for the ordinary, make some time for an unforgettable cocktail at The European.