SOM is a sound choice for Mission destination lounge 

Located at 16th Street and Van Ness Avenue in an otherwise blue-collar portion of the Mission, SOM is a true, high-end nightclub, featuring a classic cocktail program and revolving, seasonal drink concoctions. Brandon Reim is among the bartenders at this nighttime hot spot, and each night he pours, the boutique club features different DJs for differing tastes. SOM, which is the former home of Pink and Liquid, is Portuguese for sound. 2925 16th St., San Francisco, (415) 558-8521,

Can you tell me more about this place? It’s a nice mix between a club and a cocktail lounge. We have good-quality cocktails and we have over 300 different brands and types of spirits. We focus the most on whiskey, tequila and gin.

How do you come up with new cocktails? I like variations of classic cocktails. I like to put a twist on them and tweak them. I like to do something interesting with them. I like minimalist cocktails and I don’t like them to be too complex.

What are the cocktails like at SOM? We have signature drinks and classic cocktails. We change our drinks four to five times a year to be seasonal. We squeeze our juice every day and we have our own syrups.

How did you become a bartender? I started as a floater and a barback at the Bar on Castro. I worked at Lime and then Bar on Church, where I started bartending. I also worked at Lot 46. Now I work at SOM, the Café [2369 Market St.] and Vessel [85 Campton Place], which is a club downtown.

What’s the clientele like here? We have three weekly parties. We have happy hours Wednesday through Friday and we’re only open at night on Saturday. The entertainment program is very diverse, so we get a different crowd every night of the week. Tuesday, we do experimental. Wednesday, we have reggae and dance hall. Thursday, we have punk. Friday and Saturday, we have rotating shows every month. We get a mix of gay and straight and we see a lot industry people.

Do you get regulars? We do. But this is more of a destination spot. We stick out a little bit from the Mission because we are not a stereotypical dive bar.

Why did you become a bartender? I was working in a coffee shop, and when I turned 21, I figured I should be a bartender.

What do you like about the job? I like that it’s a social job and you meet a lot of interesting people.

Do you get celebrities? We do, but I don’t usually recognize them. Usually sports players or actors. At SOM, we recently had Dave Chappelle.

What do you like to drink and where? I like Blackbird and Orbit Room, which is a cool space. I like to drink whiskey based and tequila based cocktails, like Manhattans and Sazeracs.

How did you learn how to tend bar? I learned everything on the job and I read a lot. I didn’t go to bartending school, but when I worked at Rickhouse [246 Kearny St.] I took some classes at Bourbon & Branch [501 Jones St.], where I also like to drink.

Salty Lady

  • 2 oz. tequila
  • 1 oz. grapefruit juice
  • ½ oz. maraschino liqueur
  • ¾ oz. lime juice
  • dash of salt

Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake and strain into a Collins glass with fresh ice. Garnish with grapefruit peel and mint leaf.

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Erik Cummins

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