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Trick Dog

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3010 20th St, San Francisco, US

By Hamish Smith

As a description, ‘volume bar’ often doesn’t do a cocktail bar justice. There is nothing more compelling in the bar business than witnessing a venue that hosts hoards of punters and keeps them happy. It is hospitality’s master trick. It is also the trick of Trick Dog.

On the weekend this place heaves – sometimes three or four deep at the bar – yet it never feels claustrophobic. Trick Dog is framed by the walls of an old factory which, before the Bon Vivants (Josh Harris, Scott Baird and Jason Henton) got the keys, had spent a decade with no roof but plenty of pigeons. A tall building, with a triple-height ceiling, this place could host a half-dozen giraffes, no trouble at all.

Head bartender Kim Roselle dances through the orders with the speed of a club-bartender and the dexterity of a gymnast. Her and her team’s job is not as simple as in other volume bars. The drinks – this year’s menu has an American theme – are eclectic affairs, taking in half a dozen otherwise unfamiliar ingredients in the glass. Take the Morning in America – vodka, Tempus Fugit, Kina L’Avion d’Or, grapefruit, vanilla, marjoram and lime. You need a well-oiled machine to dispatch these drinks before a baying crowd.

This kind of humming atmosphere doesn’t happen by accident – it’s stage-managed to perfection by the Bon Vivant management. The décor has that industrial chic look that feeds the high energy and the playlist is pitch perfect – Motown, funk, soul and mid-century American rock – keeping the tide of customers swaying as they roll and break around the bar.

Drinks International