Sometimes I get that egotistic irritation that the best part of my personality (aside from the part I’m sitting on) is being Disneylandified for mass consumption. Is it just me or is Noir so very hip right now? Or did everyone grow up on Hammett and Chandler and lose their shit when the Cohen brothers came out with Miller’s Crossing? I suppose if you moved to San Francisco for the Tenderloin’s fading bricks or Chinatown’s hidden alleys, there’s the distinct possibility that you’ve got it as bad as I and long for a speakeasy with that longing for a time and place as much as a physical location. Thus, the “speakeasies” cropping up lately leave me in a mini conundrum. Do I want to like them because they’re trying to capture what I wish I could find? Or are they irritating because they open that dream up to anyone savvy enough to google the word “speakeasy”? Its a life’s work trying not to embrace that other people are into the same things as we are—and why not? I still dig the library at Bourbon and Branch on a quiet night and the retro-fitting of old haunts just means we get to share in a memory that would otherwise be just that…a memory and nothing more. There are definitely hits and misses in this category, though, and while that part of me braced itself to find Wilson and Wilson just too damn precious with its backstory and secret entrance, the truth is…it kind of ruled. Sure, there were the usual twelve-dollar-multiple-tincture-cocktail types, but the room only holds about 18 at full capacity, so other people just don’t feel obtrusive and the tone is set by the brick and wallpapered walls and beautiful hardbound books and knicknacks. Plus, you’re there for the cocktails, too and they’re knockouts. Seriously. We each got the flight of three ($30) and the Pinkerton was a standout hit (with bourbon, coffee syrup, cranberry infused angostura orange bitters and tobacco bourbon tincture its a mouthful to talk about, a pleasure to down). The Phantom, Red Scarab, Fu Manchu and Truth Serum all fared equally well til we staggered out drunk as skunks into the blinding Thursday sunlight feeling like we’d gone 8 rounds with a guy named Lump. Friday always looks bad through the end of a blackout tunnel, but sometimes its worth it. This was one.
Why not investigate on your own? Before you dismiss the case altogether, its worth delving into a little further. Perhaps some hands on research? Reservations can be scarce at prime cocktail hour, but if you don’t mind the early or late shift you’ll slide through that secret bookcase just fine.