Clockwatchers: Doc’s Clock Relocates a Block North

The beloved dive bar back in action and cantankerous as ever – and it's giving away all its Bulleit for a good cause.

(Photo by Eric Pratt)

Note: An earlier version of this story mistakenly said Doc’s Clock had moved four blocks, when it’s actually only one. We apologize and strongly encourage you to check the bar out, especially as it is only 25 percent as far away from where it used to be as we erroneously claimed.

Sixty-six years after it opened, 50-odd years after a dentist-owner gave it its current name, 12 years after owner Carey Suckow bought it, 11 years after somebody drove a car through the front of it, and a year after it became a legacy business, Doc’s Clock has moved one block north, taking over a vacant space last occupied by a long-gone cafe. The year-long saga at 2575 Mission St., which entailed more than a few time-related headlines, ended with the loss of the iconic neon marquee. But the top-tier dive is now happily ensconced at 2417 Mission, between 20th and 21st streets, next to Look N Buy Trading Co.

Change sucks when you have to confront it, but it ain’t all bad, either — and most of the lovably gruff vibe seems to have transplanted itself as easily as an iris bulb. It’s still cash-only. Happy hour is still four hours long, with $2 Pabst and $3 well drinks. The painting of the erect naked dude with a vaguely European Union flag-looking blue backdrop is over the non-functioning juke box, as is the “crap on tap” beer list and the cocktail menu that reads as follows: “1. Whiskey. 2. Beer. 3. Tequila. 4. Other Shit.” You can drink your Other Shit while playing Ghostbusters pinball or at tables decoupaged with pulp novel covers, including Clarkson Crane’s noirish bodice-ripper Frisco Gal. And the walls still have vintage beer ads, including one of a tipsy-looking bowler shilling PBR and a laughably homoerotic spread where a man holding an umbrella leaves his lady to get wet so he can hold it over the head of another guy who’s carrying a six-pack of Schlitz while smoking a pipe upside-down. (I don’t know if that was code for anything, but it’s too pop-Freudian not to mean something.)

But for all the bite, there’s a lot of heart to Doc’s Clock, just as there always was. Suckow’s own wall-mounted chronology explains how she bought it from the owners of the Latin American Club in spite of higher bids from her competitors, because they “wanted Doc’s to remain what it was and not become a trendy, corporate joint.” There’s a new photo of seven guys moving an L-shaped section of bar over a crosswalk, Abbey Road-style.

Further, since the family behind Bulleit Bourbon allegedly treated heir and well-respected bourbon spokeswoman Hollis Bulleit in a homophobic manner for years — a bias, it should be emphasized, that did not extend to long-time pro-LGBT parent company, Diageo — the bar is slowly liquidating its holdings of that spirit. Rather than dump it unceremoniously down the drain, however, Doc’s is selling it for $7 in whatever concoction and donating the proceeds to the S.F. LGBT Center.

Wherever your political affiliations lie, it’s nice — delightful, even — to drink an $8 Altos Tequila Paloma in the Mission in 2017. Eight dollars! Daily shot or shot-and-a-beer specials run from $4 to $9, with Monday’s $8 Espolón-and-Tecate boilermaker really leaving you feeling like you got a bargain. Or maybe it was just ’cause you whupped your friend’s butt at shuffleboard.

Doc’s Clock, 2417 Mission St., 415-824-3627 or docsclock.com

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