Josh Harris, owner of James Beard Award-nominated cocktail bar Trick Dog, wanted to celebrate his business’ decennial in style. As stylish as, say, the Mona Lisa, or as chic as Guo Pei. His bar changes menus twice a year and always features a theme that defines the drinks — this time, it’s a retrospect. The bar’s 18th menu, called the “Museum of Trick Dog,” debuted on January 8, with the menu available until the beginning of July 2023. The menu also features the most beverages of any previous Trick Dog menu, coming in at 17 drinks. “Over time, a lot of people have suggested revisiting old menus,” Harris says. “While that felt exciting for a one-time thing, that’s not in the spirit of our creative evolution. This felt like we could be reflective in celebrating the milestone but still our MO rather than revisiting.”
Think of the whole experience like an immersive, drinkable ode to not only the bar itself but San Francisco, too. Each drink is named after one of the former menus. The drink for “Tourist Guide | Gallery 04,” for example, was inspired by the Sutro Baths and Karl the Fog and blends fenugreek and Junipero gin with a cloud-like cotton candy garnish. The “Joy of Cocktails | Gallery 12,” is a non-alcoholic collaboration with Seth Stowaway, chef-owner of recent Michelin star recipient Osito. The “What Rhymes With Trick Dog” is a cocktail nodding to the savory, salty snacks incorporated in the bar’s drinks over the years, this time featuring Goldfish.
Illustrator and designer Alyssa Rusin, who worked with Harris and general manager Nick Amano-Dolan on the bar’s poetry-themed 17th menu, returned to work on this iteration. The trio got into a good groove, working together from the inception to the final execution. “It forced all of us to become Trick Dog historians,” Amano-Dolan says. “I wanted to create a program that was unique to me, but it was also a goal to use inspiration from each and every menu.”
The tri-fold menu, which includes a small booklet with a floor plan, is meant to evoke a museum pamphlet. During its run, old-school Trick Dog menus are framed and hung throughout the bar like works of art. And the descriptions of the cocktails are two-fold: an abbreviated version in the beginning, but a longer and more detailed exposition with a photograph of the original menu on the small sheet. As an opening reception of sorts, Trick Dog threw a kick-off party on January 7 called “Old Dog New Tricks”; it doubled as a fundraising event full of Trick Dog alums including Caitie Connolly, Josh “Glovebox” Jancewicz, Tommy Quimby, Morgan Schick, and Alfie Spears. Proceeds from the event and sales of the physical menu go to the Bon Vivants Scholarship, which raises money to fully cover the cost of college for underresourced students in San Francisco.
Reflecting on the decade in business, Harris says each chapter has been exciting, but the current adventure is the most fulfilling. When the bar reopened after being closed for almost two years, the staff was almost entirely new; in some ways, the owner says it felt like opening a new bar. “But every day that goes by makes it feel more and more like Trick Dog,” Harris says. “Passing this milestone is something to be proud of. We’ve been very blessed that people dug what we do.”
Amano-Dolan, who joined about two years ago to lead the bar in reopening from the pandemic closure, says it's wild to go from checking out his first Trick Dog menu (Airways) to being a member of the team. “It truly feels unreal,” Amano-Dolan says. “I felt a tremendous responsibility in honoring the work put into this bar over the years. The museum menu is the perfect menu at the perfect time.”
The new menu “Museum of Trick Dog” is available at Trick Dog as of January 8 at 4 p.m. and will be available until July 2023.