Tonight, I found myself near what I had heard was one of the best new bars in San Francisco and thought I’d give it a try. The place is called, Rickhouse, and is owned by the same folks who own Bourbon & Branch. Unfortunately, I was not able to actually get a drink. Initially, I was very impressed by the enormously compressive drink menu. The ladies next to me admitted that it was a little daunting. Still, I pressed on a picked a drink.
I looked up at the bartender standing right in front of me and was ready to order. She smiled and then went back to making her last order. Sure, no problem. I figured It wouldn’t be long, after all, the bartender was right in front of me.
Then I think I turned invisible.
The bartender kept looking in my direction, but never making enough eye contact for me to order a drink. Although I was standing right in front of her, she never even greeted me. A simple, “Hi, I’ll be right with you,” would have been fine. This went on for a bit, until a guy came in who worked at the bar across street came in, walked up to the bar, stood right next to me. Almost immediately, the bartender turned and took his order. WTF?
I rolled my eyes and turned to leave, and the guy ordering noticed this and asked why I was leaving.I said, “Because good cocktails start at the door”.
This is not a new idea. The best bartenders & proprietors know this and work hard to create a welcoming atmosphere that starts the second a customer walks through the door. A this years Tales of the Cocktail, I sat in on several panels where atmosphere was discussed as a crucial element to making a great cocktail experience. Unfortunately, the folks at Bourbon & Branch and now Rickhouse have yet to realize this. A truly great bar has heart.
Still, I just wish I could have had a cocktail.