When guests walk into Rock Bar in Bernal Heights, the one feeling that truly comes across is a sense of neighborhood – exactly what owners Kevin Cline and Josey White of The Front Porch wanted when they opened across the street earlier this year.
It’s easy to tell that Cline and White, along with bar manager Brion Rosch, like to have fun and don’t take themselves too seriously. From weekly events held at the bar (like Films Played Silently) to birthday month cocktails named after the birthstone each month (a play on Rock Bar), Rosch said the ultimate goal is to make a good drink and give the neighborhood a place where they can get together to have a good time.
“Our menu is really based on simple and direct drinks. We don’t do a lot of the things that you might see at some other bars. In fact, a lot of the times, our customers will come in and not even order off the menu,” Rosch said. “They’ll come up with a spirit and maybe one or two things they like and ask us to make them a drink. It’s fun to try to stump the bartender but we have a lot of experience and it’s tough to stump us.”
Rosch said that although he’s more of a brown spirit type of guy, he has been tinkering a lot with gins, mezcal and pisco recently, which is evident on the current fall menu. “I think it’s always fun to work with a different spirit and get to know the aspects of what goes well with it. We all work together and mix-and-match ingredients, take something out or add something in.”
That neighborhood feel is even seen in some of the drinks on the menu. “In terms of the ICHI Rock, Tim (Archuleta of ICHI Sushi) was in here and I made him a drink with Yuzu and he said it was just awful,” Rosch said. “So I worked on it and hence, the ICHI Rock, which is now one of our staples.”
From neighborhood folks to stragglers from other parts of the city, guests will always be greeted with a smile and a very diverse and cool drink menu at Rock Bar. Here’s Brion’s recipe for a new cocktail, the Old Sage.
Recipe for Old Sage
1 ½ oz St. George Rye Gin
1 oz Sage Spirit
½ oz egg white
½ oz simple
3 dashes decanter bitters
Garnish with fresh sage leaf
Rock Bar is located at 80 29th Street (between Tiffany and San Jose avenues) in San Francisco.