When The Riptide reopened last year after a two-alarm fire, residents of the Outer Sunset once again had a cozy neighborhood dive where they could hang out and get drunk. There was even a new caribou head mounted on the wall, Carrie Boo 2. Taraval Street’s western end, where the streetcar tracks turn south toward the zoo, is a sweet little commercial pocket where surfers and beachgoers chill out in droves, where bartenders and their fogbound patrons go to each other’s weddings.
San Francisco is a quirky city, but that part of town is especially tight-knit, with a stronger sensitivity to change than most other neighborhoods. Andytown Coffee Roasters opened up not too long ago and fit right in, and now there’s another bar across the street, next to the Bashful Bull Too. It’s called White Cap, and it opens this Friday, Nov. 10. The arrival of $12 cocktails west of 46th Avenue is the kind of news that sends a certain segment of the population into a paroxysm of rage: Leave our neighborhood alone! San Francisco is so over! Fucking techies! But White Cap is a project of third-generation Sunset resident Matt Lopez and The Treasury’s Carlos Yturria, which goes a long way toward nullifying any nativist’s would-be lament about interlopers taking over. (Relatedly, the Treasury team has also assumed control of the former Range space on Valencia Street.)
Lopez and Yturria are both surfers, for what it’s worth. And although there isn’t any sand drifting around on the floor, there’s not a lot of pretense, either. Here, the sherry-centric menu centers around tools. You’re no doubt familiar with a Screwdriver, but rather than dorm-room vodka with a splash of OJ for color, White Cap improves it by combining Volstead Vodka with Tio Pepe Fino Sherry, orange juice, and pineapple juice instead. Or take the Monkey Wrench, another classic drink. Only instead of rum and grapefruit, it’s rum and coconut — and in slushy form.
Not sufficiently powerful? How about a Heat Gun (La Vida mezcal, La Guitana Manzanilla sherry, aloe, and lime)? Or a Drill Press (Cutty Sark Prohibition Scotch, ginger, and Q soda)? The booziest of the lot is the Maple Hammer, made with Dickel Rye, a maple-and-walnut reduction, and bitters. It’s served over a single ice cube, the lone nod to what’s doing on the other side of town.
The L-shaped White Cap occupies less than 500 square feet, and the decor is just retro-spiffy enough to give it personality, with mid-century light fixtures and an abstract sculpture on one wall, plus enough weathered wood to make it look like a satellite of Outerlands. Eagle-eyed patrons might notice some similarities to Bar Agricole, too. But mostly, it’s about good drinks and a good jukebox. This is a solid addition to a seaside neighborhood that’s not looking for a total sea change.
White Cap, 3608 Taraval St., whitecapsf.com