Poolside cocktails, lazy summer days on lounge chairs, lush tropical foliage: three things that San Franciscans generally have to leave our fair city to find. But while we may be condemned to suffer through June (and July, and August) gloom, new bar Natoma Cabana is a respectable alternative. The latest from crazy-prolific Empire-Builders of the Year Dennis Leary and Eric Passetti (it's their third bar to open since last October, having been preceded by Cafe Terminus and Trocadero Club), the former John Colins space is perched just on the edge of the forthcoming Transbay Terminal. And it's been designed to instill the kind of equatorial vibe that's hard to come by in San Francisco, much less in the bustling precincts of the FiDi.
Known for knocking out projects on the cheap, Leary and Passetti turned this one into a family affair: Passetti's father headed up construction, while his sister was in charge of the decor. Passetti himself is once again behind the cocktail menu ($8-11), which favor the duo's no-mixology style in interpreting what Leary calls "drinks of the Southern latitudes." You'll find a Natoma Paloma, a Whiskey Vic (a take on the Trader Vic's mai tai, made with white whiskey), a strawberry-bourbon mule, and a take on a Penicillin called the Antidote, with rye and mezcal in place of Scotch. And take note of the little blurb at the bottom of the menu: "House-made Fireball upon request." Is this becoming a trend?
On the beer side, the duo have curated a quirky list of drafts, including Uncommon Brewers' bacon brown ale, Ale Industries' Uncle Jesse, and Knee Deep's Hoptologist IPA. There's a handful of wines, some bottled brews, and a stocked back bar as well.
The brick-walled warehouse space boasts an AstroTurf carpet, big skylights, and plenty of potted plants and patio furniture that Passetti says is supposed to evoke the outdoors brought indoors. Artist Ian Ross did the cool, graffiti-style exterior. Natoma Cabana has around 30 seats; the duo also plan to bring in a DJ on weekend nights. You'll also notice a roasting machine next to the bar, where all the beans used at Cafe Terminus and Leary's breakfast/lunch spots The Sentinel and Golden West are roasted. Natoma Cabana opens tonight; hours are 2 pm-2 am, Monday-Saturday.
· Natoma Cabana Targets July Opening [~ ESF ~]
· Dennis Leary Opening Natoma Cabana in Ex-John Colins [~ ESF ~]
· Inside Trocadero Club, The Latest From Leary and Passetti [~ ESF ~]