The Interval is the Most Erudite Bar in Town

An orrery is a scale-model of the solar system, usually an elaborate, gyroscope-like contraption with concentric rings. It’s the kind of thing you might find in an eccentric aristocrat’s personal library, but there’s one waiting to greet you at the Interval, the Long Now Foundation’s bar-café-event space in the Fort Mason Center. Like a nine-year-old-boy with a joke book, I was instantly smitten the moment I stepped in and saw it.

[jump] The Long Now Foundation is an intellectual society dedicated to the longevity of our species, with projects such as the construction of a clock that will run without human interference for 10,000 years and a digital library of all human languages. They’re crowdfunding these endeavors partly through the sale of special flasks, tea club memberships, and bookshelves that you can browse while getting drunk on good booze and humanity’s potential.

So the Interval is a place with a mission statement. Or maybe two: serve fancy variations on classic cocktails (in my case, a Brooklyn Heights, made from rye, maraschino liqueur, Amaro, Noilly Prat and orange bitters, served in a Campari-rinsed glass) while also bringing back the passenger pigeon and woolly mammoth from extinction. There are drinks from the world over, a coffee bar, and a small selection of cured and pickled bar snacks (but don’t forget that Greens is next door). The menus are handwritten on graph paper, with explanatory notes so lengthy they might as well have been copied in a monastery and, as with Mosto on Valencia Street, the ceiling is covered with glass vessels. Overall, it’s as if Paxton Gate hosted TEDx Talks and also had a liquor license and a kaleidoscopic light-and-sound installation by Brian Eno.

When someone has a vision and the money to see it through, practical concerns can suffer. In this case, it’s the restroom: There is but a single unisex stall. And located on pilings it is, the Interval is not a place many people are going to stumble upon by accident. But with tons of programming (some free, others ticketed and RSVP-only), there’s plenty to draw some highly literate company. This is the most erudite bar in San Francisco, and one of the most exciting, too.

The Interval, 2 Marina Blvd., Fort Mason Center, Building A.

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