Hidden up a brick-and-cobblestone Gold Rush alley near Jackson Square, it’s hard not to fall for this swank supperclub’s charms. And once you step through the darkened entryway, it feels like being in a 1930s-era movie, with its elegant mahogany bar, sweeping staircase leading up to a mezzanine is supported by ornate columns, and live jazz nightly. Bix has been in the building for 23 years, and it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Bar manager Nick DiLullo says that according to neighborhood myth, the building housed an assay office (hence the name Gold Street) during the Gold Rush where prospectors came to weigh and store their gold. With its stylish Old World ambiance, it has been called the quintessential San Francisco restaurant, right down to its trademark Hemingway drink.
Bix, 56 Gold St. (off Montgomery Street, between Pacific and Jackson streets), San Francisco, (415) 433-6300, www.bixrestaurant.com
What’s the crowd like here? Movers and shakers, Financial District folks, tourists. Lots of travel agents come here; it’s listed in many guides and a lot of hotel concierges recommend us.
What makes this drink distinctive? There’s always been controversy over whether Hemingway actually liked daiquiris. We’re definitely conscious of doing classic cocktails, and this is just our interpretation of it. I found the recipe in a magazine. I’m definitely a trial-and-error bartender, and the grapefruit juice gives it a nice citrusy edge beyond the lime juice.
What bars do you like? I live in San Mateo so I usually go to places down on the Peninsula. I like the Iron Gate in Belmont, the Town in San Carlos. In The City, I like La Rocca’s Corner in North Beach and Comstock. I also like Bar Agricole; I’ve known chef Brandon Jew a long time.
What do you drink? I love sipping bourbon, tequila and rye whiskey, especially Black Maple Hill 23-year-old rye.
What drinks are popular here? It’s a tossup between martinis and Manhattans, but our seasonal cocktails are also popular, like the Bix strawberry Rickey in summer and mai tais in fall.
What movies have been filmed here? “Final Analysis” and “Class Action” with Gene Hackman.
What makes a good bartender? The ability to interact with people while making well-crafted cocktails.
What famous people have come in? Nicole Kidman, who is gorgeous and nice. Bruce Willis. Carmen Policy, whom I absolutely love; he’s so nice and couldn’t be more down-to-earth.
What are some unusual experiences you’ve had? A guy wanted to drink $150 Hennessy Richard cognac mixed with Coke and the bartender didn’t want to do it. I said, “You serve it right away!”
What’s the biggest tip you’ve gotten? $300 for serving a guy a glass of port after the bar was closed.
Shake ingredients in cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into martini glass; garnish with Luxardo maraschino cherry and lime wheel.