Bay Area residents are reportedly drinking more during the coronavirus crisis, but it’s unclear if they’re drinking better — in these unprecedented times, there’s little data to draw upon to determine if people are more likely to guzzle the cheap stuff or break out their finest bottles when a pandemic is afoot. One San Francisco bar and restaurant is banking on the latter impulse, it appears, and offering a package deal on the booze it has at hand: $1,000 for a set of bottles it says would ordinarily cost as much as $4,000.
Nihon Whisky Lounge in the Mission is a 15-year-old sushi-and-steak spot from the folks that brought you Tsunami sushi restaurant in NoPa and Bar 21 Amari spot. For Nihon’s new Cleveland-faced proposition, according to a post on the venue’s Instagram, for $1,000 one can order a set of “whisky vintages that are a steal,” five bottles that typically retail between $79 and $749, which its bar would have poured at over at a value of $4,000, or retailed at $1,900.
In brighter times, Nihon offered private lockers for “all bottles” purchased at the bar, a feature they boasted long before last year’s wave of booze locker efforts at high-end venues like ONE65, which promised lucky renters their pick of one of their 35 lockers for only $10,000 per year.
Sadly, those $10K lockers, as well as ones at spots like the Vault and Niku Steakhouse, have been rendered inaccessible by San Francisco’s shelter-in-place, which means that fans of highbrow alcohol are likely left thirsty — that is, one assumes, these folks are drinking for the sheer appreciation of the craftsmanship behind the distillations, and not for the arguable public spectacle of fetching (or, more likely, dispatching someone to fetch) a bottle from a rented cubby while drinking and dining out.
Setting those people aside, Nihon’s deal is likely to attract true Japanese whisky fans: These are some very solid bottles, and the price can’t be beat, even online. Since a purchase from them (as opposed to a distant purveyor) will support a small, local restaurant group, one could certainly find worse places to direct a grand.
And, finally: If your government stimulus check is $1,200, and you drop a $1,000 of that on Nihon’s whisky set, you’ll still have $200 to spend on an in-home locker like one of these. That way, you’ll never have to worry about a global crisis getting between you and your locker of booze ever again — and if times get tough, perhaps you could even rent space in your locker out to other fine-drinking San Franciscans. After all, in times like these, it’s always good to have a backup plan, especially if you’re in the habit of dropping $1,000 on alcohol.