Whisky Magazine Issue 8
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Retro luxury pervades the whisky bars of San Francisco as Larry Walker found out when he did a little relaxing West Coast style
Finding a good whisky bar in San Francisco is not as easy as one might think. The silicon valley and hip-media types in their 20s and 30s, when they aren't ordering $150 (£100) bottles of Cabernet, are lapping up tequilas and designer vodkas, and even making inroads into the gin supply. Their palates are, perhaps, a little immature for good whisky.
But if you know where to look, whisky lovers need not go thirsty. A good ‘first dram of the evening' can be had at the Cypress Club, a multi-million dollar bar-restaurant that owner John Cunin, a 40-something restaurateur, modelled after an old San Francisco supper club. It has the leather and rich wood panel feeling of a club, where the men are all filthy rich and the women, knockout blondes with chorus girl legs.
But despite the effort, the effect just does not quite come off. There's a sly wink of self-mockery, an almost over-the-top fantasy element that makes it unreal enough for you to feel you are in a George Lucas movie that has had a noirish make-over from Orson Wells.
The Cypress Club is on a claustrophobic side street where cultures cross and rebound. On one side is the city's financial district, San Francisco is the West Coast's money hub, while on the other you find the fringes of the bohemian and tourist haunts of North Beach and Chinatown.
Drop in on the Cypress for an early drink and you might well see some button-down stockbrokers mingling with bearded poets or musicians in faded jeans and dangling earrings....