O3 Bistro and Lounge brings drinking establishment to Civic Center area 

click to enlarge Launa Butler, the bar manager at O3 Bistro and Lounge, recommends the Sweet and Spicy to pair with the new restaurant’s Pan-Asian menu. - BRIAN MOLYNEAUX/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Brian Molyneaux/Special to The S.F. Examiner
  • Launa Butler, the bar manager at O3 Bistro and Lounge, recommends the Sweet and Spicy to pair with the new restaurant’s Pan-Asian menu.

Strangely enough, dining and drinking options are slim in the immediate Civic Center neighborhood. Thankfully, O3 opened in January at the former California Pizza Kitchen location to help fill that void and supplement the already-thriving Hayes Valley neighborhood several blocks to the west. Remodeled with dark wood and comfortable seating, O3 has already begun to attract neighborhood denizens to its high-end cocktails and food. Launa Butler manages the bar. 524 Van Ness Ave., San Francisco, (415) 934-9800

What’s the concept at O3? We are a bistro-style, fine-dining restaurant with lounge-style influences. We serve California cuisine with Pan-Asian and French influences. Our cocktails have lots of fresh ingredients and fresh juice. We don’t have the complete mixologist list, but we do have handcrafted cocktails that don’t take 10 minutes to make.

How long have you been tending bar? I was a manager at The Brixton in the Marina and I worked at Rouge Nightclub. I also worked at P.F. Chang’s and have bartended on and off for six years.

What do you like about bartending? It’s fun, it’s good money and I like the people interaction. When people sit at the bar, they are more relaxed and you meet the most interesting people.

Do you get any regulars yet? We are starting to see familiar faces — people who live in the neighborhood, people who work at City Hall.

Can you describe the decor? There are little Asian nuances in the decor. It has a really relaxed, comfortable feel when you come in.

What are the more popular spirits here? A lot of people gravitate toward the Scotch.

How do you come up with new drinks? They are based on what I’ve tasted over the years and what I like to work with. The Sweet and Spicy goes well with Asian food. And the O3 Soho is very light and refreshing. The lemon grass and ginger also goes well with the food. The Wasabi Bleeding Mary is our version of the bloody Mary with wasabi and four frozen cubes of our homemade bloody Mary mix that we drop in.

What do you like to drink and where? I’m a whiskey girl. I stay away from clear spirits. I prefer more divey bars. In this area, I like The Bigfoot Lodge, which stays open until 2 a.m.

Who would you like to serve, alive or dead? Robert Plant. I’m sure he’d have some great stories to tell.
If you could have a drink anywhere in the world, where would that be and what would you have? Definitely Japan and I’d like to try sake.

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Erik Cummins

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