Locals and visitors looking for craft cocktails to sip while watching the yacht races can drop anchor at Pier 27. "Bar chef" Scott Beattie (Cyrus, Hi Lo) has teamed up with Eric Rubin (Tres Agaves, Hog & Rocks) for the next 10 weeks to open up a 12,000-square-foot bar, which will close Sept. 30 with the finish of the main regatta. Salvaged boat parts from Pier 80 were used in the design of what Rubin calls the world's largest pop-up bar. Guests can enjoy lobster sliders and a Pimm's Cup under lighting wrapped by old sails and bar tops made from carbon-fiber hulls. "We're taking it up a few notches of what it means to have food and drink at a sports bar," Rubin said. We spoke with Beattie, also known as the Garnish God by his peers, who faces one of his biggest challenges in bringing local ingredients and San Francisco sophistication to the large waves of expected sailing spectators.
Tell me about your philosophy behind the bar. I have a preference toward small, handcrafted spirits and locally based brands. Definitely focused on seasonal ingredients. That can be challenging.
How does this high-volume expectancy challenge you as an artisanal craft-cocktail bartender? Our biggest challenge is that we don't have running water back here. It's a pop-up bar. We can't get running water in this space because it's a pier. Most of our drinks will not be shaken. What we're going to do is build cocktails in the glasses. It's how you would do it at a catering gig, basically. It's just as delicious, but a different way of doing it.
What should people who come to America's Cup Sports Bar expect to find? Every one of our cocktails has a local component to it. The Cucumber Collins has local Square One Vodka. I've foraged wild huckleberries from the coast that have been frozen and saved for this event. Our cocktail menu has three types of Old-Fashioneds and three types of Negronis. It's internationally inspired with a strong focus on the wonderful products we have here. We take our cocktails seriously in this city, and we want to be representative of that.
Tell me about your beginnings as a bartender. I grew up in San Francisco. Third generation. When I was 21 I started tending bar at the Blue Light, which is a sports bar. Then I slowly got into fine dining. Moved to Napa in 2001 and helped open Martini House. That was the first time I started to use more homegrown, seasonal ingredients. My dad had a lot of great citrus trees at his house — Meyer lemons, interesting grapefruits and oranges. Then I became friends with the guys at Charbay that were doing all-natural, fresh-fruit vodkas. That was the beginning of taking seasonal citrus and creating high-quality flavored vodkas. In 2005, I was invited to Healdsburg to start the bar program at Cyrus. The place started to gain a lot of attention and the people who were writing about the restaurant started to take notice of what I was doing behind the bar.
Any bartenders that you look up to? Eric Atkins — him and I came up together. Michael Lazar at Hog & Rocks — he's got a great palate. Michael Pazdon — he's won so many cocktail competitions that he's been banned from most of them. Pretty much anyone doing it right I'm impressed by. Marco Dianissis at Smuggler's Cove made me my first great cocktail when he was at Absinthe. It was The City's first great cocktail bar. He made me a Ginger Rogers. It was my epiphany moment."
• 1½ oz. Pimm's No. 1
• ½ oz. St. George Terroir gin
• ½ oz. simple syrup
• ¾ oz. fresh lemon juice
• 1 dash Angostura bitters
• 1oz. Bundaberg ginger beer
Add first five ingredients to a 12 oz. double Old-Fashioned glass. Stir gently with a bar spoon. Add enough ice to fill glass. Stir again gently. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with wild bay leaves and cucumber slices.
BAR INFO: America's Cup Sports Bar • Pier 27 • The Embarcadero • www.americascup.com/sportsbar