I only hung-out there maybe once or twice a year, so it’s hard to take the loss of Esta Noche personally. But the loss of San Francisco’s only Latino gay bar, with its ridiculous drag, cameo on HBO’s Looking, and cans of Tecate that somehow cost more than a tequila sunrise, still stings a little.
[jump] In its place comes Bond Bar. To its everlasting credit, Bond is not offensive and it’s not douche-y, both in absolute terms and relative to the Mission in 2015. So there’s no pressing need to make them a bullet point in some anti-gentrification diatribe. In fact, the art direction is pretty nice, with sexy wall sconces and Aurora Borealis visuals playing on the back screen like a Mac screensaver I remember getting high to and watching in college. The former stage is now a seating area, and Bond’s designers wisely opted to leave that stunning wooden bar intact, too.
For drinks, there’s a Moscow Mule, a Strawberry Gin Gimlet and a Spicy Margarita (with habanero tincture), along with a few barrel-aged cocktails such as a Bonding Sazerac (made with St. George pear brandy) and an upscale Desperado made with mezcal and Carpano Antica in lieu of the beer-lime-tequila concoction found most places. The neighborhood gets a few shout-outs, namely “‘The Dude’ in the Mission” which puts a spin on the Big Lebowski, subbing mezcal for vodka, orgeat for Kahlúa, and and house-made horchata. Overall, the list is well-rounded with a kind of pan-Latin American feel, although incrementally more expensive than that at Dalva, another cocktail bar only one block away.
Bond’s only jarring detail is that, having opened up what has once been a dark vestibule, they revealed a blind staircase that had apparently been in Esta Noche all along, possibly because it had once been a hotel. It’s like something you might see in the Winchester Mystery House, yet it’s blocked off at the base of the steps with a booth. Too bad.
Bond Bar, 3079 16th St.