Churchill Located at one of San Francisco’s busiest intersections and smack dab in the heart of The City at 14th and Church streets, Churchill is the newest iteration for a spot that has long been a bar. The bar underwent a complete makeover and now employs a steampunk aesthetic that features exposed and reclaimed wood, original ceiling slats, old factory lights and lamps, and new south-facing windows to peer out into the busy Market Street corridor. Bartender Vanessa Garrovillas has been with the bar since it opened several weeks ago. Its sister bar is the popular Bloodhound on Folsom Street, and its predecessors included the Bar On Church and The Transfer. 198 Church St., San Francisco, www.churchillsf.com
What’s the concept of this bar? It’s an everyday-people bar, which is great for the neighborhood because we serve such a mixed crowd from the Castro, Mission, Lower Haight and middle Market. We have fresh air now and great cocktails. Before, it was $1 PBRs. Now, we have a $4 Telegraph Wheat or you can get a Saison Dupont, one of our Belgian beers. You can get quality beverages for a great price.
What’s the clientele like? We get everybody from ages 21 to 75. We get a lot of regulars and we’ve had a lot of people from Bar on Church and The Transfer. People really appreciate it. You can see how blown away they are. People who are waiting for the bus or the Muni line come in and have a couple of drinks. It’s taken off instantly and we have regulars almost every night.
How long have you been a bartender? Four years. I was previously at Fifth and Market at Chez Papa Bistrot, which has French cuisine and a full bar. There, we focused on the wines of the Rhone Valley.
What’s the cocktail menu like? It’s the same concept as Bloodhound. Everything is fresh and we make it before our shift. It’s so high-volume here we prepare everything beforehand and squeeze fresh juice every day. We also have fresh syrups like a rosemary syrup; the Rooibos, which is an African tea with a red, distinct color; a Benedictine; and a honey syrup. The owner, Anthony Healy-London, came up with the menu and, moving on, we’ll give him some new ideas. We have Blackbird [2124 Market St.] right around the corner, so we are a tad different.
What do you like about bartending? I like interacting with people and making things for people and being creative.
What’s your favorite drink? My favorite is a Negroni on the rocks with a burnt orange peel.
How did you become a bartender? By accident. I had been working a desk job for four years and I decided it was time for a change. They had me train and I was kind of a natural.
Have you had any celebrities here? Steve Jobs. I made him lemonade and he loved my recipe, so I gave it to him.
Do you have any funny stories as a bartender? The other night, a guy came in and picked up an orange and said, “Is this a pear?” And then he asked for two shots. I said no.
Shake all ingredients and strain over ice in a Collins glass; top off with soda water and hefe weiss.