Often, deciding on which intricate, amazing-sounding cocktail to order is difficult. But shouldn't it be more difficult? Trick Dog, the cocktail bar in the Mission thinks so, and it has set the bar for creative menu design really, really high. Its first menu was a Pantone swatch book, followed by a vintage record album with each drink printed on its own 45, then in January it unveiled a sliding astrology wheel. Today, at 3 p.m. Trick Dog debuted its fourth menu: a tri-fold tourist map of San Francisco, with each drink named after an SF landmark.
Trick Dog's menu game is pretty impressive, and I hope it never stops outdoing itself at the expense of straightforward, typical menus. It's hilarious though to imagine what life would be like if other SF bars tried to get in on the "themed" menu-design bandwagon.
Brass Tacks' current menu is nice, but a little too easy to take in at a glance. You know what's not? A bucket of rocks.
The Tonga Room is one of the most kitschy bars in the city, but it's missing a golden opportunity for authenticity when it comes to its menu. Take things up a notch by embroidering the cocktail list onto various plants! Once a leaf falls off, the drink is 86'd. Plus, bonus for the bartenders, who I know would be thrilled to come in 4-6 hours before their shift in order to hand-stitch each drink onto various leaves.
Churchill already has an excessively heavy menu. You want a solid fingernail workout? Try to pick one up once it's flat on the bar. (Don't try, you can't.) If heaviness is the goal though, I've got one word for you: cinderblocks.
For outdoor spots like the Biergarten in Hayes Valley, just carve the menu on a nearby tree and hand patrons binoculars for a fun game of "find the beer list"!
Zeitgeist is known for its warm and accommodating atmosphere. JK. No reason to go over the top. Write the beer list on a few crumpled up napkins and scatter them on the patio. Maybe patrons will find them. Maybe not. Who cares.
Chino is brand new and has a chance to make a good first impression as far as overly-complicated menus go. List each cocktail choice in a fortune cookie and get ready for everyone to ask if they should drink it "in bed."