ISSUE 36  |  Brewpub Style

Restaurant Visit: Bar Agricole in San Francisco

September 10, 2010 10:15 AM

BY Janet Hall

I recently dropped by San Francisco's new (and feverishly anticipated) Bar Agricole, camera in hand. Located on an industrial block in SoMa, this venture of Thad Vogler (a Yale-educated, self-described bartender who has worked in Paris, Tokyo, Ireland, Guatemala, Belize, and at several high-profile San Francisco restaurants, including the Slanted Door) celebrates the tradition of farmhouse distilling and is already being called "the Chez Panisse of cocktails." Vogler has planted a 500-square-foot biodynamic garden with citrus fruit trees and herbs like hyssop and savory he'll be using in his concoctions, and the drinks list—featuring artisanal, sustainable, biodynamic ingredients—is centered around Agricole Rhum, a spirit made in small batches from sugar cane in the French Caribbean.

The locavore spirit carries over to the design of Bar Agricole's interior, with walls of reclaimed white oak from old whiskey barrels and elements by local craftspeople. The building itself is San Francisco's first LEED Gold certified structure; in the 1900s it housed the Jackson Brewery; the structure was recently overhauled by Aidlin Darling Design and Matarozzi/Pelsinger Builders and recognized by the AIA/COTE as one of the top ten green projects of 2010. Still to come: a cedar-paneled outdoor courtyard with seating for plein air imbibing.

Above: The urbanscape mural above the bar is by SF photographer Thomas Winz.

Above: Thad Vogler's favorite silver-plated Hercule French cocktail shakers.

Above: A luminous, undulating glass sculpture by Nikolas Weinstein reflects light from the skylights above (photo via Flickr).

Above: The distinctive seating and tables are by SF furniture designer Sebastian Parker.

Above: The custom concrete booths were fabricated by Concreteworks in Oakland.

Photos by Janet Hall