[Avery] 8/15/98
Lat night, after the Brian Setzer concert (check today's entry in the smirks section to see what we thought of the show) we went to the Toronado for what was planned to be a couple of beers. We ended up staying there until last call. Oh well, it's not the first time that we've been there until 2am, and it won't be the last.
Most of the night was spent talking to Steve, one of the bartenders/bouncers. He's one of those types who you always see at the bar, but never really talk to. Last night we talked. It was great! We spent almost 2 hours discussing why movie sequels suck... which led to a discussion of Star Wars, cartoons, and all other geeky stuff. Like I have said before, it's the personality of the bartenders and the barflys that really creates the mood at a bar.
On a beer-geek note, I had the new Jolly Roger from Lind Brewery... which at 8% abv is a strong beer to start with. From there, I moved onto a pair of Hop Ottin IPAs from Anderson Valley Brewery, which were mild in comparison at 7.5% abv. We ended the night with a Boon Kriek Mariage Parfait, a sour Belgian Lambic beer with a touch of sour cherry added in the secondary fermentation.

[Avery] 8/12/98
Whoo-eee! Tonight was the Boddington's beer night at the Toronado! For $2.00, you can get a pint of the malty-nitrogen pumped Boddington's Pub Ale. I had 5 of them and Janet had 2. Dave, the owner, whose birthday is tomorrow was there... and it was a great night! Jeff brought andouille sausage and bangers [from Rosamunde] along with some Goulden's mustard. Before the evening was finished, I had 2 more Anchor Small Beers, which means that I have officially finished a case of Small Beer in less than 2 weeks. Lordy, I need some food!

[Janet] 8/10/98
What better excuse to go to the Toronado twice in one day but their Eleventh Anniversary? (or any of their anniversaries, for that matter.) I mean, how can you beat $4.00 for a PINT of Framboise, a drink which is usually $6.50 and comes in a fancy glass that's smaller than a pint. Raspberry heaven! That was at 3:00. At around 9:00 we went back to visit the 9 PM-shift bartenders Johnny and Ian, who for some reason decided it was Disco Night and were wearing the appropriate 70's clothing. Ian's shirt was covered with butterflies that resembled flying watermelons (that was the 70's for ya.)
HairWatch '98 Update: The astute reader may remember that a week or so ago, I was a little disappointed that Johnny had cut off all of his blonde and spikey hair. Good news! It will be blonde again! (I got this right from the horse's mouth!)

[Avery] 8/10/98
Sorry it took so long to get this Barfly update loaded! The Eighth was the Toronado's 11th anniversary, and a good portion of the day was spent there, drinking two dollar beer and eating Rosamunde's wonderful weiner schnitzel and roasted potatoes.
The crowd was much better behaved this year than last year. Last year was 10 days of highly publicised debauchery. This year was a nice, [relatively] quiet celebration... with most of the locals showing up at least once or twice throughout the night.
I had my 10th Anchor Small beer, and enjoyed a number of great beers from Liefman's (including a goudenband, the sour lambic ale and a framboise), as well as the afore mentioned Anchor Small Beer and a great unfiltered Eye of the Hawk. It's good that I had the Framboise early in the night, because they ran out at 10pm. This Wednesday is Boddington's night... $2.00 pints until it runs out!

[Avery] 8/8/98
Well, it's 12:30am, and we (unfortunately) had to leave the Toronado early. You see, the sewer main underneath the Mad Dog in the Fog, the bar across the street from the Toronado, broke. This started a flood in Mad Dog, which caused the fire department and a Roto Rooter truck to block off most of Haight Street. Unfortunately, this caused all of the yuppies in Mad Dog to head over to head over to the Toronado. So at 11:45pm, Janet and I high-tailed it the hell out of there. On a good note, I have now finished my ninth Anchor Small Beer in less than 9 days... which is quite a feat considering that the Toronado only got 48 bottles. I intend to finish 12 bottles before they run out.
Tomorrow is the Toronado's 11th anniversary. $2.00 beers all night. Woo Hoo!

[Avery] 8/1/98
Last night was a hellish night at the Torondo. Because it won the Bay Guardian's Best of the Bay award for "Best Bar" last Wednesday, it has been packed by all of the bridge-and-tunnel yuppies since then. However, Janet and I were lucky, and we were able to get our favorite seats quite quickly (we got one of them immediately. The second seat opened up after 2 beers). I discovered a great beer by Anchor (of course, it would have to be an Anchor beer) called the Small Beer, which is a second pressing of one of my favorite barleywines, Old Foghorn. As the night went on, Maury, another regular sitting next to us said to me, "You seem to be more of a colleague [to Johnny the Bartender] than a customer." This is one of the nicest thing that anyone has said to me. It means a lot to me that some noticed that I am no longer just some schlub that orders a beer and throws down his cash... I've become part of the fabric and the personality of the bar.

Tonight, we will be at Marcus' Evil Doers party, so we will not have a Barfly update for 8/2/98.

[Janet] 8/1/98
Since it was big news that the Toronado won the Best Bar award, Tad the Doorman penciled in "and they have the nicest doormen" underneath the little blurb about the bar in every single copy of the Bay Guardian that was stacked at the door. And they do have the nicest doormen. Also the nicest bartenders. Even if Johnny DID have all of his bleach-blonde hair cut off. Now the little remaining hair he does have has been returned to the shortest, plainest brown ever to sit on someone's head. I will miss the hair.

[Janet] 7/29/98
We were at the Toronado (where else!) one night a month or so ago when in walk three overdressed not-from-the-neighborhood girls looking very fancy. They stop behind us and peer up at the board which lists all of the beers and start whispering to one another, trying to figure out what they could possibly order. One of them notices the list of non-alcoholic beverages written on the chalkboard behind the bar and says to her friends, "OOooo, ginger beer...what's that?" "I don't know, I don't know!" the others say, perplexed. She then asks the bartender, who tells her it's sort of like ginger ALE, kind of like SODA. "OOooo, there's no alcohol in it?" she says. "Noooo, you notice how it's on the list of NON-alcoholic beverages..." the bartender says. "Oh! Tee hee!" they say, "we NEED alcohol!" Gag, I say.  

[Avery] 7/26/98
How many Underbergs can someone drink in a night?
Last night was spent at the Toronado. Robert and Ian were on shift... it's great when the two of them are on shift together, because they have that same scowly attitude that Janet and I have. So, we got into the bar at 9... and it only took 15 minutes or so until seats opened up. It's funny, but when you spend enough time at a bar, you really end up with your seats. Our seats are at the end of the bar... it gives us a great view of all of the taps, and it allows us to talk to the bouncer. It's one thing if the seats are occupied by other regulars... but last night, the seats were taken by some tourists. It's funny... Robert gave us this "they're on their last beer... just hang by the seats and they'll leave" look. He was right... we had the seats before we got halfway through our first drinks. Our drinks, as always at the Toronado, were beers. Janet stuck with German Weissbeers (including an extremely tasty Schneider Weisse), while I jumped around between some American and some German beers.
Of course beer (and sausage from Rosamunde next door) isn't the only thing that we drank at the Toronado; as is tradition, we had Underberg as well. Usually we have 2 Underbergs at the most on any given night. Last night we went through 4 of them. Underberg, if you have never tried it, is a bitter... with anise and cinnamon flavors. It helps to settle the stomach... and having an Underberg with the bartenders is part of the ritual of being a barfly at the Toronado.

[Janet] 7/19/98
Showing up at a bar (especially your favorite bar) at 12:45 AM or so often proves to be most entertaining.  When we got to the Toronado around that time, Avery and I noticed a couple of groups of people who had obviously been there for many, many hours.  At one end of the bar were three guys who kept making the heavy metal devil sign with their fingers and headbanging along to the jukebox, no matter what kind of music was playing.  Every so often they would let out a few whoops and order another (large) bottle of a Belgian ale.  By the time they ordered their last one, they were in need of a designated pourer in a major way.  One of the guys started to pour the ale into a glass and missed it completely, eventually pouring half of the bottle's contents all over the bar.  They all just laughed and kept headbanging.  
Just then a twenty-something from twenty-somewhere rushed over, pointed above the bar at the rather long and dusty row of all the empty display bottles, and excitedly asked for "one of those big $50 bottles" (of Duvel, a Trappist Belgian ale), at which point Avery turned to me and said "I always thought that bottle was a joke!"  This bottle is HUGE.  Huge enough to keep 10 people drinking for a couple of hours.  Two feet tall kind of huge.  Be aware that it is now 1:00 AM, there are only five people in their party, and Duvel is meant to be sipped, not chugged. Needless to say, they somehow managed to finish the entire bottle.  The purchaser then raised it over his head and turned the empty bottle upside down in drunken triumph.  "You guys rule", said Johnny the bartender, somewhat patronizingly. 

[Avery] 7/19/98
Beer in the morning, beer in the evening, beer at suppertime.
Saturday night, we met up with Shawn (from the Sausage Chronicles) and Chrystyna, the publisher of Cigar Lifestyles Magazine at the Toronado to have a first beer before heading out to a party at Marcus' place. Boy damn, it was hot... so we stuck with light German beers (I had a Pilsner and Janet had a Hefeweisen).
So, we head out to the party... and it was a blast! It was a lounge party, so velour and fedoras were everywhere... as well as the ubiquitous Cosmopolitans. Would I ever order a Cosmopolitan at a bar or restaurant? No. But, when you're at a party, you tend to order a "Whatever's in the shaker" Cosmos were in the shaker, and that's what we had.
So, 12:30 rolls around... and Janet and I turn into pumpkins because we had to get up early this (Sunday) morning... so we grabbed a cab and bailed.
However, no night would be complete with out a final visit to the Toronado to see how everything was going, and to have a final beer... so we made a quick stop off to the Toronado to have a final round. My last beer was the new Lagunitas Ipanator... one of the best beers that I have had in the last year or so.
I feel sorry for those people who don't establish themselves as regulars at a local bar. There's a great pleasure that I get when I head into the Toronado and see the same faces, the same bartenders... the fact that there's a group of people that you recognize and that they recognize you back. The fact that you are part of a community, bound by your enjoyment of a specific place... the commonality of enjoying TV over a beer with a group of people that you never talk to... never see outside of the bar, but become your family for a few hours a week. That's the pleasure of being a barfly.

[Avery] 7/17/98
Tonight was the night to go and visit an old friend. The old friend was named Boddington, as in Boddington's Cream Ale and the place where I had it was Lucky 13. Janet and I decided to stop off at Lucky 13 on our way home for a few beers. I forgot how much I really love that place. Beyond the great music... and beyond the great Frank Kozik posters decorating the walls... and beyond the 2 pinball machines... the place just has great booze.
Lucky 13 has 20 or so beers on tap... including a number of German and Domestic beers (no Bud, Miller or Coors!) on tap, a great selection of German and Belgian beers in the bottle, and Berliner Weisse with both Raspberry and Woodruff syrup.
The last time I was at Lucky 13 was for a co-worker's birthday. I decided to have a Berliner Weisse with woodruff syrup. Talk about a bizarre looking beer! Berliner Weisse is an iridescent white beer, which is extremely sour, like a Belgian Lambic, due to its Malolactic Fermentation. When you add the alien-green Woodruff syrup, you end up with this x-files shimmering green sweet-and-sour beer. Not my favorite drink, but it's unique, and that's worth an occasional drink.
However, I did not have the Berliner Weisse this time. Today, I stuck with Lagunitas IPA and Boddington's Cream Ale... a treat at any price, especially when it is on Nitro pump and especially when it is one dollar off due to the happy hour! I decided to have an Underburg as well. Yum.
It was a hard decision to not have an Old Potrero, which is always a treat at $9.75 ... but I have a bottle at home... and I didn't want to splurge. If I haven't ever raved about the selection of Whiskeys and Tequilas at Lucky 13, let me do it now. Rave. Rave. Rave.
Beer was followed by Chili and Baconcheeseburgers at Sparkys. Healthy? Naaaahh. But it was tasty.
[Janet] I used to be intimidated by Lucky 13, mostly because it's difficult going into a neighborhood-type bar where most of the people are obviously regulars (the way I think that the Toronado USED to be before all the obviously clueless started looking it up in their Hip Spot Handbooks).  It's a pretty looong bar, too, and really crowded on Saturday nights.  It has a real "inside" kind of feeling...if you're not a regular you KNOW you're not a regular. But it's nice at like, 6:00.  And they do have a great selection of alcohol.      

[Avery] 7/12/98
TSN (Typical Saturday Night). Headed out to the Toronado for a few beers and to talk with Ian and Johnny (the bartenders) and Tad (the bouncer). Started out with the Pacific Coast Imperial Stout, not remembering that it is about 10% ABV... talk about a strong beer! While Janet was still working on her stout, I had a Hair of the Dog Golden Rose, one of the best Californian beers. Then we moved onto the good Belgian stuff. They said that the keg was marked as Lindeman's Framboise, but we all thought that it was a Kriek (Framboise = Raspberry, Kriek = Sour Cherry).
The highlight of last night actually happened when I went over to Rosamunde for a sausage (hey, sausage is good bar food). When I was over there, some buzz-cut skinny-ass euro-trash was moaning and wailing because Holland was beaten that afternoon. Poor freaking baby. His girlfriend was told to remove the drugged out lout from the shop or that he would be removed. Listen, I love soccer... but there is a point when you can just go too far.

[Janet] 7/11/98
Last night while we were at 850 Montgomery, we noticed that someone had rented the back room for a birthday party.  After about 45 minutes of watching hundreds of her overdressed trust-fund-baby friends arrive it was obvious that they were taking over the entire bar.  Then some of  the girls started doing that shrieking thing, where when they spot one another they shriek, then they start talking to one another in some dialect interspersed with shrieks.  
My question is, how come when yuppies (and I use the term yuppies because, in a cigar bar with most people dressed in casual Friday clothes, these people had the designer black cocktail dress-strappy-heeled-coiffed hair-and-tons-of-make-up-bright-white-toothy-smile thing going on.  That and the fact that they were either drinking champagne or Heineken from the bottle is a dead giveaway).  So how come when yuppies book a room for a party it's an event, and when the rest of us do so it's an intrusion?

[Avery] 7/11/98
Whoa nellie! What the hell was in those drinks last night? Yesterday, we decided to go out with Carlos, a friend from work. We all met up at Enrico's... the bar previously ripped to shreds in Janet's comments in the Respect section above. You see, two years ago, I used to be able to go to Enrico's and ask for a Mojito or a Sazerac, and they would make it up without question. Last week, when we went to Enrico's and asked for a Sazerac, all we got was a blank stare.
This week, when we back to Enrico's, a different bartender was there, so we decided to ask for two Sazeracs.
Instead of the expected blank stare, we got "Hold on, let me check and see if we have the proper bitters". Over the next few minutes, the bartender explained how he had the privilege of being able to go to the Sazerac Bar in New Orleans, where he learned the right way to make a Sazerac. He's planning on telling the person in charge of re-stocking the bar to order Peychaud Bitters so we can get a Sazerac next time. In the meantime, he made a great rye Manhattan.
After drinks at Enrico's, we went out for dinner at Tommaso's and then headed to 850 Montgomery. Strange, Last week, I drank MORE at 850 Montgomery and felt perfectly fine afterwards... last night, after only 3 drinks, I came home feeling quite woozy. That's what I get for ending the night with a Vodka Collins... the ghosts of old bartenders passed were punishing me for drinking the evil, flavorless vodka. I repent! I'll never drink vodka again!

[Avery] 7/5/98
Went to the Toronado last night, and Janet and I enjoyed a wonderful beer called a Gluhkriek, a warm Belgian lambic beer with sour cherries and other spices. While enjoying this fine and wonderful beer, some drunk picked a fight with the bartenders and was ejected. A wonderful time was had by all!

[Janet] 7/5/98
If you want a good resource for Cocktails, check out Hotwired's cocktail site.
The Hotwired site includes recipes, a Drink of the Week and essays about the state of the cocktail nation.