It was St. Patrick’s Day 2010 when David Bates noticed a young bartender struggling to keep up with the thirsty customers at Club Deluxe. “Trying not to be a creep,” Bates, 29, a bartender himself back East, approached the young woman and asked if she needed help. Days later, Bates was hired and today the Boston native, who ironically is a self-proclaimed Manhattan cocktail “kind of guy,” commutes about 45 seconds to work as he resides above the establishment. But when one steps into Club Deluxe, signature cocktails aren’t the only things on the menu. Known for its signature pizza pies prepared by chef Giovanni Iaccarino and constant live jazz, the club has an unmistakable vintage feel. The decor of the bar remains as it was in the 1950s, and with tables and barstools sprinkled throughout the dim-lit room, there is virtually no bad seat in the house.
Club Deluxe, 1509-1511 Haight St. (at Ashbury Street), San Francisco. (415) 552-6949, www.sfclubdeluxe.com
How long have you been bartending and how long have you worked at this establishment? I started bartending back in Boston while going to school, and worked at a salsa club in the city for three years. I moved to San Francisco about two years ago, and have been at Deluxe since.
How is it going to work at a jazz club? I love it. The musicians are like family and I get to hear some of the best local acts in San Francisco. Every night, you hear something new. The culture here is amazing, and aside from the jazz, Giovanni’s pizza keeps me looking forward to work.
What is the strangest thing that you have encountered as a mixologist? I’ve definitely seen some things over the years, and being on the corner of Haight and Ashbury leaves no shortage of entertainment. It all adds to the experience.
Who are some prominent people that you have prepared drinks for? Well, in Boston a lot of the Red Sox would come in after the games back in the mid-2000s ... Manny [Ramirez], Pedro [Martinez] ... but Deluxe is more of a locals’ spot. There are definitely some local legends that come through here, but we’re not a high-profile jazz club, and that’s what everyone loves about it.
Have you worked in any other industry? During the day, I work for an energy-consulting firm, and aside from serving drinks to customers and friends, my true passion is green building and sustainable development. That’s one of the main reasons I moved to San Francisco; this city is pioneering the movement and it trickles back East from here.
If this club had a motto, what would it be? Keepin’ it classic! Local jazz, fresh cocktails and artisan pizza.
Do you have a special cocktail, and how do you make it? Well, we’re known for a few cocktails, including our fresh-squeezed greyhounds, but the Spa Collins has to be the signature beverage. It’s a house mix of fresh cucumber, ginger and lemon juice, served with vodka or gin, and topped with soda, mint and lime.
Fill a glass with ice. Pour the house mix. Add the vodka or gin and top with soda, lime and mint.