Mixologist: Ken Furusawa leads bar program at La Folie 

La Folie: Lounge La Folie Lounge has long been one of San Francisco’s most upscale restaurants. For 20 years, it has wined and dined those folks with deep pockets. But last year, La Folie decided to take things down a notch and opened a lounge next door that is its entirely own thing. We sat down with bartender Ken Furusawa, who leads the bar program at this lovely little lounge, dressed up to feel like a Parisian living room. Though we couldn’t help but feel like we had been whisked to some posh Palm Springs getaway, reclining on those cushy white leather couches and cooled by the soft blue walls. With Bastille Day just around the corner, Furusawa and the gang are aptly preparing for the French holiday with a fabulous cocktail called Storming the Bastille. It’s an iced toddy that has all of the fixins’ of warmer stuff but way more refreshing and equally addictive. 2316 Polk St., San Francisco, (415) 776-5577

How did you get into bartending? I got into it at the suggestion of my sister. I was sort of in transition from being laid off from dot-coms and going back to college. And she was like, ‘Hey, I remember you talking about being a bartender when you were in high school, but you never could. So what about that?’ It sort of piqued my interest, so I sought a job out and got a break as a bar back.

So, you were in tech and then you’re a bar back, how was that transition? It was sort of humbling. But I think I sort of drew on my family roots ... just their work ethic was really good; my father and my mother both. And I’ve always been of the belief, whatever you do, do it well.

What’s the best lesson you’ve learned so far? It’s bettered my understanding of what hospitality is, and it’s letting people get the experience that they want and not what you think they should have. To try to get a sense of what people want and then giving them the best of what you have to offer.

If you are going to order a cocktail, what will it be? As far as cocktails, if I’m at one of the cocktail-centric bars in town, out of curiosity, I love to try anything that they’d like to make, or if it’s really busy, I’ll just order something off the menu.

Is there a specific spirit you’re drawn to? I like tequila, I love El Tesoro.

There’s a new trend, you know, to pair tequila with food. What do you think about that? I think when people look at spirits as part of the food experience, I think it’s good. Everything’s catching up to wine, it seems like. So for spirits to come in, beers to come in, sakes to come in, I think it’s great. Because it slows down your appreciation — it’s not just about getting blasted.

If you could serve a drink to anyone, who would it be? I have a background in music. I play trumpet, piano and drums. I would love to serve a drink to a great jazz legend like Herbie Hancock, but someone who’s passed, maybe Louis Armstrong or Ella Fitzgerald.


Photo by Mike Koozmin/Special to The Examiner

Storming the Bastille

  • 1½ oz. sazerac rye
  • 1 oz. brewed black tea
  • 1 oz. spiced honey (diluted honey syrup cooked with whole allspice berries)
  • ½ lemon

Garnish with lemon wedge and a single clove (representing La Folie’s one Michelin star). Shake all ingredients together. Strain.

About The Author

Staff Report

Staff Report

A daily newspaper covering San Francisco, San Mateo County and serving Alameda, Marin and Santa Clara counties.
Pin It

Speaking of Entertainment

More by Staff Report

Latest in Food & Drink

© 2019 The San Francisco Examiner

Website powered by Foundation