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Holy Water, Craft Cocktails and Beer in Bernal

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[Photos: Patricia Chang]

The Bloodhound and Churchill gang have unveiled their newest bar project: Holy Water, a craft cocktail outlet that opened yesterday on Cortland Avenue. The team gutted the former Stray Bar to the studs and completely redid the interior, pushing the bathrooms to the back of the space and adding an additional window in front to make the bar more open and airy than its previous incarnation.

"Holy Water is a really powerful name," says co-owner Mike Goebel. "We didn't want to hit people over the head with it, but we touched on some of the religious themes with accents in the bar." Chief among these are a large wall mural showing a river baptism from the 1940s and cloud wallpaper that covers the ceiling. The pendant lights over the bar were made from old glass decanters gleaned from swap meets and flea markets, and the overall ambiance is warm and rustic.

As with the team's other spots, the bar is focused on high-quality but simple cocktails, with an emphasis on fresh juices and housemade syrups. Helmed by business partner and bar manager John Ottman, formerly of Churchill and Bourbon & Branch, the cocktail program is streamlined and classic: think drinks with three or four ingredients, like the Turf Club (gin, french vermouth, maraschino, orange bitters) and the Mexican Firing Squad (tequila, grenadine, lime). All cocktails are priced at $9. See the full cocktail menu here.

On the beer side, 8 drafts and 15 bottles are offered, with a mixture of local craft brews (Drake's stout, Mt. Tam pale ale) and farther-flung options (Liefmans Cuvee Brut, Allagash White, Reissdorf Kolsch). Here's the beer list. There are about 50 seats total, with 17 bar stools and six high-top communal tables. Three flat-screen TVs are part of the space, but they'll only be turned on for key sporting events. Overall, says Goebel, the aim is to create a relaxed neighborhood bar with great drinks and friendly service, much like its predecessors. Hours will be 2pm-2am daily.

· Stray Bar Getting the Bloodhound/Churchill Treatment [~ ESF ~]
· SF's 10 Most Anticipated Fall Bar Openings [~ ESF ~]
· Take A Look At Churchill, Opening Today in the Castro [~ ESF ~]

Holy Water

309 Cortland Ave., San Francisco CA