This handsome, bustling Bayside restaurant is a fitting flip side to its sister spot next door, Waterbar. While both places reflect Pat Kuleto’s attention to high-concept style and detail, Epic’s meat-and-potatoes focus gives it a clubby, masculine feel compared to the airy seafood-style Waterbar. While both offer waterside patios, Epic’s spacious-yet-cozy bar is upstairs, separated from the restaurant, and has a cool little outside deck with a sweeping view of San Francisco Bay and the Bay Bridge. Head bartender Jeff Fairbanks, a seasoned pro who has worked behind the plank of many local bars, is a good fit for this sophisticated steakhouse, where he features his tasty drink Autumn in Paris.
Epic Roasthouse, 369 The Embarcadero (at Folsom Street), San Francisco, (415) 369-9955, www.epicroasthouse.com
What makes this cocktail distinctive? I was raised in the Midwest and, for me, the fall always smelled like smoldering, wet leaves. It has layers of flavors from the Talisker and the sauterne that make it more complex. It’s one of the few scotch-based cocktails. Many scotch drinkers would be appalled to mix a single malt with anything except an ice cube. It appeals to both Manhattan whiskey drinkers and women who’ve just been introduced to whiskey.
What’s the crowd like here? During the week, for happy hour, it’s a downtown, after-work crowd. On the weekends, because of our gorgeous view and the location, there’s more people from Marin and the East Bay who come in for a night on the town. Hotels also recommend us.
How long have you been bartending? I started in Illinois as a busboy and barback when I was 17. I put myself through college doing it and moved here 10 years ago.
What are your favorite bars? My local bar is the Mucky Duck. I gravitate toward local spots where I live, the Inner Sunset, places like Social and the Taco Shop at Underdogs. If I want a well-made cocktail, I go to the Comstock Saloon in North Beach or Alembic in the Haight.
What are the most popular drinks here? Martinis, the Corpse Reviver, Sazeracs, cucumber sake gimlets. What famous people have you served? Al Gore, Rudy Giuliani, Chris Isaac. Jessica Simpson came in [recently]; she’s gorgeous. The guy who played Bobby Bacala on “The Sopranos,” Steve Schirripa. He came in after a Giants game and we talked baseball for an hour. He seemed like just a blue-collar, neighborhood kind of guy. He was blown away by San Francisco’s hospitality.
What’s the best tip you’ve received? I was working at Trader Vic’s, and a woman had had a bad experience there so I tried to make it right and bought her the pizza she had ordered. She asked if my mom was still alive because it was close to Mother’s Day. A week later, a package came with a note and a strand of pearls she made for my mom.
Shake with ice, strain into a martini glass and garnish with lemon peel.