A San Francisco institution for more than 40 years, Perry’s opened its downtown restaurant and pub along The Embarcadero within the Hotel Griffon several years ago after closing its Sutter Street location. In addition to catering to out-of-town guests staying in the neighboring hotels, downtown workers enjoy the waterfront views and outside dining during summer months. Brian Williams, the bar manager, joined Perry’s a little over a year ago and works five nights a week as a bartender.
Perry’s, 155 Steuart St., San Francisco, (415) 495-6500
How long have you been a bartender? I was at Pier 23 for 10 years and have also worked at Eddie Rickenbacher’s [133 Second St.], Pat O’Shea’s, Bar None [1980 Union St.] and R Bar [1176 Sutter St.]. I’m from Minneapolis and I started bar-backing in Minnesota. After nine months, they offered me a bartending job. I learned it on the job, which was cool. It was more of a hands-on thing.
Are you a mixologist? I understand the whole mixologist thing and it’s neat. But I feel like I’m a bartender. I don’t make bitters at home, but I have friends who do. But I do think that bartenders are on the same page as chefs. We create things.
Why do you like bartending? In the past, it was more of the same thing. Here, I’m making Old Fashioneds, Manhattans and Rob Roys. I also like that I get days off. I can go for a run or a bike ride and still come in for work. I also like to see people and make up their drinks as we go. One woman comes in and just loves jalapeños, so I stick one in every drink and make her a new one each time. That puts a little flair in our jobs. Every day, there’s something new.
What’s the draw here? People feel comfortable here and we have a huge fireplace. When it’s nice you can sit outside and watch the boats go by.
Who do you admire? Josh Harris at Pier 23. He’s a mixologist and he has a good outlook on it. With Todd and Chris at R Bar, you can never go there and have a bad time. There’s also Mike Fogarty at the Balboa Cafe [3199 Fillmore St.]. And there’s Bob Tobias at the Union Street Perry’s.
Where and what do you like to drink? I love the Horseshoe Tavern [2024 Chestnut St.]. It’s a little rough around the edges, so for the Marina, it’s fun. I also like Pete’s [128 Kind St.]. Pedro’s next door does a jalapeño margarita that’s killer. As far as drinks, I can do anything from a margarita to a Boodles martini to a shot of Jameson to a Budweiser.
See any celebrities? It seems like every night someone comes in, I miss it. But Tony Hawk and the Giants have been here, and years ago, I served Matthew McConaughey. He was one of the coolest guys I’ve ever met. We also had Kate Hudson at Pier 23.
Where would you like to have a drink anywhere in the world? Ireland, because I’ve never been. The way they do a Guinness there is 100 percent different.
Who would you like to serve if you had the chance? Anthony Bourdain. He just seems like a really fun guy to sit back and have a drink with.
Seen anything strange over the years? A lot of stuff you can’t print. But I’ve had couples break up in front of me. One on a first date and another one that was an all-out screamfest.
In a collins glass, combine strawberry pieces, basil, a dash of basil syrup, a splash of lemon juice and a splash of St. Germaine. Muddle ingredients thoroughly and add ice. Pour Grey Goose over the ice and top off with soda water. Mix vigorously to combine all of the flavors.