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A Bourbon At...Dirty Thieves

Have you ever quit your job, told your boss off, then opened a successful business on your own with an idea he gave you; only he didn’t realize he gave it to you?

[Photo: Naseema Khan]

A Bourbon At?is sponsored by our friends at Basil Hayden’s Bourbon. Basil Hayden’s is handcrafted, light-bodied and aged longer with twice as much rye to produce an incredibly approachable, sophisticated and luxurious bourbon. It’s spicy. Unexpected. And full of potential. Just like your plans tonight.

That’s how Dirty Thieves began. Well, sort of. One dirty day, two innocent-until-proven-guilty business partners decided the city conceptually needed an edgy, divey, straight-ahead bar. Not another Bourbon and Branch with a reverent attitude towards the art and history of bourbon elixirs. And not another "mixology" driven bar like Smuggler's where you can buy a punch bowl for $32.

Instead, a bar that would appeal to people looking to go out drinking and socializing, where the night crawlers could layer on some electricity by playing the music a little louder, get their Pabst tall boys and their vodka sodas?yeah yeah yeah?but could also choose from a wildly extensive selection of whiskeys and bourbons, and even?in the case of Dirty Thieves?some moonshine that barely anybody drinks.

Sensing the advanced drinkers and the hip scene in the city?maybe even a mixture of the two?would receive such a concept, well, they left the bar they were working at and told the owner they were going out on their own.

When they did so, however, they say he accused them of robbing him blind and using his money to open their new bar. "Thieves!" he told them. "Call your new bar thieves!" As they walked away with their middle fingers in the air. Their response: GREAT idea.

And Dirty Thieves was born. Nothing about the bar though resonates criminality, or filthiness, or anything close to either, really. 24th Street after-hours can be an ominously quiet block deep in the Mission; but it's an eclectic and welcoming place inside: tough on the exterior, sure, but lively, friendly, and hip on the inside.

A healthy crop of hipster-holics will be there nightly helping the thieves pay the bills, with four half-circle booths lining the wall to the right where you can fit groups of eight or so for your night out drinking. About 20 stools line the long bar itself, and there is a big open space in the middle for mingling your way around. A pool table in the back, some arcades, and an Internet juke keep everyone else entertained. Though normally the pool table is open and the bartenders are handling the tunes with wide ranging but tasty jams. I was satisfied catching Arcade Fire, Bob Dylan, and P Funk in one sitting.

So if you’ve ever had the pleasure of having a quite honest cocktail or, well, bourbon, at Thieves Tavern, Whiskey Thieves, or Dirty Thieves, now you know an exaggerated version of how it all began. Quit your job and open a bar? Let me know if you do. But here’s a baby step for the rest of us: get a drink at Dirty Thieves; talk about telling your boss off; and brainstorm with your cronies on how you’re going to quit your jobs and build something special together. - Eddy El Espia