5929 Geary Boulevard, San Francisco
CELEBRATING ITS 50TH YEAR IN BUSINESS IN 2015 and its fourth year on The World’s 50 Best Bars list, Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant continues to be a shrine to tequila and a site of pilgrimage for world travellers. This is due in small part to the tremendous tequila selection and in large part to Julio Bermejo, whose parents (Tommy was his father) opened the restaurant half a century ago.
Bermejo is recognised as an ambassador to the tequila category by the National Chamber for the Tequila Industry (CNIT) in Mexico and, with his frequent global travels as an educator and consultant, has made thousands of bartender friends and fans who often take a taxi from the San Francisco airport directly to Tommy’s.
But about that tequila selection – it is vast and the bottles visible cramming the back bar are only a fraction of the entire collection. Patrons come to Tommy’s not only to squeeze into the small bar (at the side of the larger restaurant), but to do some thinking with their drinking. Decades ago, Bermejo founded the bar’s Blue Agave Club, through which drinkers learn about tequila production, regulations and history, while drinking their way through the selection of 100% agave tequilas.
When enough tequilas have been sampled (sipped neat or in a Tommy’s Margarita, the cocktail made famous here and listed on menus in nearly every country in the world) and written tests have been taken, club members can become a Master, Doctor, or even a Ninja Master of Tequila, at the higher levels being granted business cards from the bar and having access to rare selections of tequila. Even when Bermejo is travelling, which is often, the bar is always full with friendly agave geeks who act as educators and hosts, passing on the Bermejo tradition of education, hospitality, and, above all, good times.