Team Oracle has not yet raced their gleaming, multi-million dollar catamarans in this year’s America’s Cup but the team behind the America’s Cup “pop-up” sports bar on Pier 27 in San Francisco has been slinging drinks for boat crews and their fans since early July.
Scott Beattie, the Bay Area mixologist renowned for crafting innovative drinks using local and seasonal ingredients, built a list of 22 drinks to slake the thirst of anyone who passes through the 12,000 square-foot temporary venue. An alliance between Levy Restaurants, the organization that manages the food at Oakland’s Oracle Arena, restaurateur Eric Rubin, builder Karl Hasz and Beattie, the huge space serves up to 700 people at three bars and demands economies of scale. “There is no running water here,” laughs Beattie, who batches libations one hundred at a time and uses bucket glasses for the generously sized, $14 drinks.
Many of the 22 are very stable, straight spirit drinks such as the Negronis and Manhattans favored by San Franciscans on an arctic summer afternoon and Beattie can add the bitters just before service. “It is very accurate and consistent,” says Beattie, but he and the crew of J-1 visa kids working service for the 10-week gig are moving a lot of tequila, vodka and gin that feature local distillers and fresh flavors. Pisco, imported into San Francisco since before the 1849 gold rush and turned into punch then and now, is lush and sweet with pineapple gomme from Small Hand Foods. St. Germain elderflower liqueur and grapefruit juice update the must-have margarita. A cucumber Collins features Square One Organic Cucumber Vodka but it is the Japanese-style pickled cucumbers and wild coastal huckleberries that grab your attention.
“The event is geared for locals,” says Beattie but with so many visitors passing through, the Sports Bar and Beattie’s extensive menu provide out-of-towners with the opportunity to dip into the craft cocktail culture that holds the Bay Area tight in its grip.
And the sailors? Beattie does not know where they drink post-race and in-between race days. If he cannot entice them with the America’s Cup, an easy-drinking concoction of Pimm’s #1, St. George Terroir gin and foraged bay laurel, perhaps the Yachtsman, a throat-tingling mix of bourbon, rye and Carpano Antica will convince them to stop in and experience this seasonal taste of the Bay Area.
The America’s Cup final, a best of 17 series, kicks off on September 7, pitting Emirates Team New Zealand against defending champion Oracle Team USA.