SF Weekly has a strong dive-bar bias — who’s gonna champion these neighborhood gems if not the local alt-weekly? — but two or three times a year, something so absurdly decadent arrives on the scene’s high end that we just have to grovel a little bit.
Right now, it’s Elements at ONE65, the fourth-floor bar that’s soon to open at 165 O’Farrell St. in what will eventually be a six-floor powerhouse destination under the direction of Chef Claude Le Tohic (and a dumb-waiter that his staff tested by running down several flights of stairs to see who got there first). Perhaps appropriately for a bar called Elements, Beverage Director Trevin Hutchins took inspiration from the classical elements of earth, water, air, and fire.
“Oh, how fascinating,” you may be saying. “No one’s ever done that before.”
Silence, fool! These four drinks are well thought-out and beautifully executed, without falling down the rabbit hole until the underlying ideas are only comprehensible to nightlife professionals who routinely spend time on three continents.
Let’s begin with The Bird in the Hand, a large-format take on a Paloma for four people — each of whom controls their own spigot — that represents air and evokes New Orleans and Mexico in equal proportions. A mix of Espolon blanco tequila, Campari, grapefruit, honey, and absinthe, it has its own roof garden of mint and rosemary, and the pink-orange hue looks like dawn itself.
You might want to call it a situation, but that term has already been taken by some tax-evading dipshit. This is more of an event.
Fortune Favors the Bold, which comes with its own fortune cookie — and a crouton — combines a blend of rum and rhum with the ginger-allspice liqueur (and tiki favorite) falernum, plus artichoke liqueur and passion fruit syrup. The most elegant of the four, Anjou, is an autumnal Metropolitan variation with Bertoux brandy, the aperitif known as Pineau de Charentes, a droplet or two of hazelnut oil, and a dried-pear garnish, served up.
But the most ostentatious is All Bark and No Bite, a take on a Boulevardier that uses five separate amari along with Rittenhouse rye and Carpano Bianco. Each individual drink is served on one of Elements’ 24 hand-blown-glass-and-tree-branch couplings — which is to say, you have to rest your glass on the wood because it might tip over if you set it on the tabletop.
Sensibly, ONE65’s ground-floor patisserie is set to open first, on or around Thursday, May 16. Elements is scheduled for closely behind and the Bistro & Grill (third floor) and Le Tohic’s statement restaurant, O’, capping things off on the fifth and sixth floors. A pun on the name of the street and the French word for water, it’s likely to become San Francisco’s statement restaurant for 2019.
Elements at ONE65, 165 O’Farrell St., one65sf.com