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A Bourbon At...The Gold Cane

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–who proudly dons jeans and a tucked-in Gold Cane t-shirt on most nights—would no doubt get a chuckle out of this reinterpretation of his bar’ s name. This place is a main artery of the heart of San Francisco, after all, and they explosively love the Giants. The Gold CaneOr better yet, the Gold Cain! Brendan, the white-haired, gently mannered owner of

[Photo: Naseema Khan]

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Of course, any SF establishment with a tube, stiff bourbon pours and an unending supply of cold beer
embraced baseball recently. The Gold Cane, though, is among the few establishments that were around
when the Giants migrated here in 1957. Reflecting its unwavering long wait for Giants championship glory,
The Cane is what I consider the “ old trusty” of Haight Street—that reliable place that is pure San Francisco,
that you can count on for a scene that will never turn you off.
Opened originally in 1929, many don’ t realize the bar once occupied the space that is now Club
Deluxe, just a short amble down Haight. Until it moved to its current location in 1978, the Gold Cane
was a neighbor to Haight Street Grill, one-time-slinger of the best $0.45 steak and eggs dish in the city.
To combine a greasy spoon meal at the Grill with a few bourbon neats at The Gold Cane while watching
a baseball game was one of the best one-two punches anyone could’ ve asked for. You bet your bottom
dollar Jerry Garcia got his at one point in time.
The Gold Cane hangs on to its roots. It would conjure a smile today if its founding father—a late, true
gentleman by the name of Alex— were around to see how they’ re getting on. According to Brendan, Alex
used to escort his patrons to their taxis when the night was over. And he always made efforts to get to know
his loyal bar denizens and treat them with respect, much like Brendan does today. Back in the day, the
Cane held bragging rights to the only backyard on Haight Street. It had a prime two-story patio, the best
vantage to take in the Haight Street Fair. Alex charged a mere dollar for access and gave all the proceeds to
charity. The same generous spirit lives on.
There are lots of choices on Haight Street. But you’ ll be hard pressed to find the Gold Cane’ s pure, seedy,
no-frills, no-BS buzz anywhere else. The Gold Cane has traditional elements tied to its past through
veneration towards the loyal bourbon swillers within. It can be grungy, stinky and rough at the best of
times. It’ s a dive bar, readers, serving its purpose timelessly.
- Eddy El Espia

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