The Corner Spot, the lowkey bar on Irving Street and 14th Avenue that never reopened following the March 2020 shutdown, has new owners and a new name. The Sage and Drifter is the new bar to taking over the location, and its new owners are three seasoned bartenders who’ve cut their teeth in both high-end restaurants across the city and at a beloved dive in the Richmond.
Seth Murray bought the Corner Spot alongside Will Konevich and Kevin Behrens in 2021, following years of tending the bar together at Hockey Haven. All three have worked extensively throughout the city’s service industry. Murray previously worked at ABV, the recently remodeled Dalva in the Mission, and Cole Valley darling Padrecito. Behrens, meanwhile, worked at Foreign Cinema and AQ, and Konevich was the general manager at Hockey Haven. Their knowledge of craft cocktails didn’t come into play much at Hockey Haven, but when they batched a watermelon basil cocktail to sell out the door during the pandemic, the trio began thinking of their future plans. “We thought, maybe this is a good time to look for our own spot to try and branch out a bit,” Murray says.
The Sage and Drifter is inspired by both the Johnny Cash song “I’m A Drifter” and Taoism’s references to the “sage,” the person who is wise enough to act in accordance with their intentions. Murray says the name reflects the two sides of what they’re trying to achieve with this new venture: They want to pay respect to the neighborhood history of the bar, while offering quality cocktails and food that might not be familiar pub fare. “We’re not just doing peach margaritas with peach syrup,” Murray says. “You can still get a $3 Tecate, but you can also get a $12 craft cocktail.” The bar menu features those aforementioned craft cocktails like the F&L Sazarac — featuring St. George pear brandy, absinthe, rye, and simple syrup — while also offering customers a chance to try flights of spirits like mezcal. Every Wednesday, Jake McKenna does high-end bar food, like eggplant parmesan rolls and pulled pork sliders. It’s approachable. “We already have our daily regulars and we have people who come in to try every cocktail on the menu,” Murray says.
After a false start in November 2021 during which they opened briefly before closing down when the staff tested positive for COVID, the bar reopened on New Year’s Day, luring customers in with drinks and food, but also pool tables and regular trivia nights. Murray says music nights and bingo may join the roster of monthly events now that things are settling down. “We want to be one of those bars where 60 years down the road people are still telling the stories,” Murray says.
The Sage and Drifter (1368 Irving Street) is open 1 p.m. to 2 a.m. Monday-Friday, 12 p.m. to 2 a.m. Saturday and Sunday.