It's been quite some time since there's been an update on the Alamo Drafthouse New Mission Theater, the Bay Area outpost of the popular Austin, TX-based movie house slated for the Mission. Finally, after years of planning and construction on the historic Art Deco building, the theater is close to completion, with a projected opening in Fall of 2015.
And now that things are taking shape, Isaac Shumway, has been announced as the beverage director of the theater and it's accompanying bar, Bear Vs Bull. Shumway (whose past includes stints at Bourbon and Branch, Heaven's Dog, Alembic and most recently as bar manager of Tosca Café) has been an integral part of developing the bar's concept, including the name, which references a very unusual time in San Francisco's long, weird history. Apparently, during the Gold Rush era, it was common to lasso California grizzlies and pit them against Spanish bulls at Mission Dolores, for the ultimate bloodsport.
In reality, the bar scene will (hopefully) be less aggressive than a bear fighting a bull— Shumway envisions it as a chill neighborhood spot complete with a menu of boilermakers (the beer and a shot concept intended to channel the synergy of a fight between the two animals), 28 beers on tap, California wines and a selection of craft cocktails, with boozy milkshakes thrown in for good measure. And although he's known for his creative cocktails, Shumway says that he plans to put more of an emphasis on the bar experience as whole, offering fewer complicated cocktails and focusing more on creating a relaxed bar atmosphere.
"The most important part for me is the people behind the bar," says Shumway. "We've got a lot of people who know how to make great craft cocktails— it's the best staff I've ever seen in SF as far as bartenders go— but we all agree that that's not the main focus."
Shumway also plans to bring in as many local producers as possible, including a special New Mission Fernet and a barrel of apple brandy from Alameda's St. George Spirits. Non-alcoholic options will include a special hibiscus iced tea, as well as nitro cold brew from De La Paz Coffee, and their New Mission blend made specially for the theater.
Additionally, the theater will have it's own menu of beverages, which Shumway plans to customize for different films— imagine tiki drinks for a run of Cabin Boy, or white Russians during The Big Lebowski. "I've definitely always been a movie person. I used to rent all the movies at the video store, and for some reason I was allowed to watch all the R-rated movies too," says Shumway. "I'm excited to take this to the next level. It's really kind of a dream job."
The New Mission, like the original Alamo Drafthouse locations in Texas, combines the traditional movie-going experience with full-service food and drink offerings, plus special programming and events. There will be five screens total, offering a variety of indie, foreign films, old run movies and more, plus a bike valet and more deluxe movie-going options along the way.
"I'm excited to have an independent, neighborhood bar within the movie theater, being in the Mission and just joining the community," says Shumway. "I want the bar to be a chill, neighborhood spot where people really want to hang out."