Marriott Marquis View Lounge’s Buzzard Alavi specializes in martinis 

Architecture and history are full of curves in this high-rise perch just south of Market Street, which locals dubbed the “jukebox” for the distinctive arching windows that allow 360-degree views of San Francisco cityscape. Its grand opening was Oct. 17, 1989, the day the Loma Prieta earthquake struck. Every glass in the 39th-floor bar shattered except one miraculously unscathed martini glass. “So opening day was closing day, too,” bartender Buzzard Alavi said. It reopened that December. Views stretch from the tip of the Transamerica pyramid and the Bay Bridge to Mission Bay on the east side, and glorious sunsets, Twin Peaks and the Golden Gate Bridge on the west side.

Marriott Marquis View Lounge, 55 Fourth St., between Market and Mission streets, (415) 896-1600

How did you get into the business? I had lots of bartender friends who I watched and learned from during the time I was still a bar back. I worked my way up and started here 10 years ago. Behind the bar’s the place to be. And I even got an office with a view.

What are your specialties?
I sort of specialize in martinis. I like to mix vodka and gin, and mix it with other ingredients, like a Cosmopolitan, which caters to women. You know, that all started with “Sex and the City.” I like to work with dark fruit — pomegranates and raspberries and blueberries, which make a nice, dark color.

What’s the crowd like here? Weekdays, it’s mostly conventions; weekends, more locals come. But it’s not like a local neighborhood bar. It’s never boring and people from all over the world come here. I never hear the same stories. There was a DJ in the other night and over 300 people came to enjoy the beats.

What do you like to drink? I’m a beer guy and a Jaeger guy, but I also enjoy a nice cocktail. One has to love the drink to create it well.  

Where do you go when you’re off? I like local bars. The Lucky 13 is one of my favorites, or the Hemlock.

Is there a place you’d like to be? Amsterdam is my favorite city; it’s got a lot of character. I’ve been there several times. I lived in England for a while and have been to Italy.

Any advice to bartenders starting out? Have fun with it and have a good attitude. You’re always on stage, always performing. It’s like being a kind of performing artist.

What might you do if not this? Maybe make commercials or ads. I was in a Giants commercial a while back. Whenever casting needs a tattooed guy, they call me. And I’m a gambler, a poker player.

Any famous customers here? The original Incredible Hulk, Lou Ferrigno; Vince Vaughn; and Sharon Stone.



  • 2 oz. Stoli blueberry vodka
  • ½ oz. Pama pomegranate liqueur
  • ¼ oz. Hiram Walker blue curacao

Shake with ice 4 to 6 seconds and strain into a nice cold martini glass. Garnish with a cherry.

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S.A. Tyson

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