Burritt Room and Tavern Just steps before the Stockton Tunnel sits a cocktail gem in the Mystic Hotel where bartenders use swizzle sticks made from tree branches and eye-drop house-made tinctures into vessels of boozy glory. Red velvet stools, 12-armed chandeliers and the original layer of preserved flooring with dime-sized tiles decorate the refined yet approachable low-lit bar and adjoining restaurant. The film noir-inspired cocktail spot opened by iconic restaurateur Charlie Palmer is named after Judge Burritt and his farm, which once existed there. It’s also where detective Sam Spade’s partner, Miles Archer, was killed in Dashiell Hammett’s “The Maltese Falcon,” according to the bar’s website. Inside, you will find a flight of original, smoky and malty Negroni variations, and a burger that’s only available by request. We spoke with Ryan Price, a former ski bum, full-barrel travel photographer and modern cocktail craftsman.
Tell me about your years as a ski bum.
It was a good time, bartending at restaurants, clubs and boats throughout Lake Tahoe. Spend a couple hours on the slopes before I go in. Then I’d do it all over again.
Anything cool happen lately?
The other night, a guy came in with a bodybuilding trophy. He obviously wasn’t a bodybuilder. He used it to pick up chicks. It worked. But he left his trophy here.
What kind of crowd do you attract?
Lots of first dates here. Good after-work crowd. Cocktail nerds. Industry people. Good, mature crowd who knows what they want.
Do you have any pet peeves? Being waved at. What they don’t realize is that we can see them. We know who’s next.
But our drinks are pretty good, so I can’t blame ’em.
What are a couple of your favorite places to drink?
I really like the El Diablito at Wo Hing’s. I also like Mosto for their awesome tequila selection.
What’s one thing you can’t live without?
Probably good coffee. I hit up Four Barrel and Sightglass often. We get spoiled with coffee in this city.
Do you have any hobbies?
I spend a lot of time doing travel photography. Really into playing with old, medium-format cameras. I just got back from Baja. Traveled to Morocco, Europe, Thailand, heading to Costa Rica.
What do you like about working here?
It’s a really concise bar staff consisting of three guys. Our drinks are consistent. We’re all members of the Bartenders’ Guild. There’s a good family vibe going on here.