I was out talking to a friend on Saturday night when he gave me a great tip. "Have you heard about that dive bar being run by the Bourbon & Branch people?" he asked. "Great cocktails, all $7, and in a super casual setting in the Tenderloin."
Sounded kinda perfect to me. I get the whole artisan cocktail thing, but sometimes when I hit those bars I feel like I'm in a Bret Easton Ellis novel — the whole hipster preppy contingent can get a little obnoxious, and as someone who mostly drinks whiskey straight I don't always have the patience to wait around ten minutes for a cocktail.
So my friends and I hightailed it to the address my buddy gave us — 441 Jones St., near O'Farrell, basically across the street from Bourbon & Branch — and found the perfect cozy Saturday night watering hole. The place is called 441, but the signage outside is for Mr. Lew's Win-Win Bar & Grand Sazerac Emporium, and inside hangs some of the tackiest glowing beer advertisements I've seen. I loved it.
The atmosphere is totally no frills — unchanged, the super friendly bartender told us — from the place's days as a Korean dive bar. But they'd unplugged the jukebox and the other server was cranking out great old Iggy Pop gems from his iPod. And the drinks? Delicious. I paid $7 for a twist on my regular. The Gold Rush was warm and only slightly sweet, like a tastier version of what you'd want to soothe an irritable throat.
The bartender told us that 441 has only been open a couple weeks and confirmed that it's owned by the B&B folks — who wanted to offer a lowbrow alternative to their swank space down the street. She said 441's decor has been going through a "slow transition" and even she wasn't sure what the final vision for the place would be.
411 seems pretty perfect as it is. The dozen or so folks who'd found their way in (via word of mouth like us) were chatty and added to the overall vibe, one where we were all refugees from the weekend warrior bar scene. Hopefully the secret will continue to be slow to spread. (SFist has a little more on the bar here.)
Photos by Jennifer Maerz and Jen Corbett