Sean Roland tends bar at revolutionary Rebel 

Situated midway between the Castro and the Folsom Street gay scenes, Rebel is one of San Francisco’s newest bars and was designed to mix the sensibilities of the best clubs in Upper Market and South of Market. With a distinctly biker-themed decor, Rebel features a full barbecue dinner and lunch menu by Sneaky’s, formerly a popular underground food purveyor that delivered in the East Bay. Sean Roland, himself a biker, started bartending at Rebel when it opened.

Rebel, 1760 Market St., San Francisco, (415) 431-4202

How long have you been a bartender?
I got hired after an open-call interview. It was like an audition. They did the open interviews because they had a clear idea of what they wanted the staff to look like. I started working in bars and restaurants in Philadelphia, and I’ve been in town six months now. I’m from upstate New York.

What’s the theme of the bar? The owners wanted to capture the duality of the gay scene in San Francisco. It’s a hybrid between the leather scene and the flashy scene. For the decor, they wanted to do something new and serve really good food.

Why did you become a bartender? I love working with my hands, and I decided it was something I wanted to do.

What do you like about bartending?
I love the social aspect. It’s like going out, except that I get paid to do it. I get to meet a lot of people and be a part of the gay community here. I also like the art of it and being creative. This place is a great opportunity for me to do those things.

How do you invent new drinks? I like to create drinks that are fresh and pretty simple with less than four ingredients. Sometimes I like something a little herbaceous, and then I’ll add a sparkle to it.

What’s the ebb and flow here? It’s a casual barbecue eatery every afternoon and it’s a bumping gay dance club at night.

What the clientele like? We get a nice food rush and after-work happy-hour crowd. Later in the week, it gets crazier. There will be a line down the block on Saturdays.

Do you have regulars? Some gentlemen do come in and visit me. We also have holdovers from The Triple Crown [the previous bar] who come in and support us. We have a lot of neighbors too.

What’s the Double Down happy hour?
Between 5 and 7 p.m., you get two drinks for every drink you order. You’ve got to be a little bit of a rebel to do it.

Any particular drinks during happy hour? You can get anything from an Old English 40-ouncer to a greyhound with fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice and Belvedere.

Where and what do you like to drink? I like Honey’s at Holy Cow [1535 Folsom St.] and Aunt Charlie’s Lounge [133 Turk St.] in the Tenderloin. I like tequila. The ones with the smallest brand recognition are the most delicious. If people are handing me Fernets, then it’s going to be a Fernet night.

Who would you like to serve a drink to? Audrey Hepburn. She’s so elegant and fabulous.

If you could have a drink anywhere, where would it be? Mendoza, in the mountains of Argentina.

Rebel Rising


  • 1 oz. Svedka Clementine vodka
  • ½ oz. Lillet Blanc
  • Splash club soda
  • Splash of prosecco
  • Juice from one fresh orange
  • 1 sage leaf, lightly bruised

Start in a tall Collins glass filled with ice. Add vodka, Lillet, soda, prosecco and orange juice. Pour from one glass into another, but do not shake. Garnish with an orange twist and sage leaf.

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Erik Cummins

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