by Chelsea Larsson
On the corner of Hayes and Grove, Absinthe’s glowing green sign has been a San Francisco icon for 14 years. On any given night, a glance through the tall, street-side windows reveals smiling people clinking glasses and eating sumptuous food. Tables are dressed in white cloths and elaborate flower arrangements, and tie-clad servers run about the restaurant tending to diners’ delights. The charm of Absinthe is that it offers all the finery and none of the fuss.
If Absinthe’s unique charm is built on a teeter-totter of lovely and lively, then the bar and kitchen continue the experience. Now managed by bar superstar Matt Conway, Absinthe’s bar has one of the most chronologically expansive cocktail menus in San Francisco. Vintage ingredients that might sound familiar to octogenarians line the bar, and mustached bartenders in vests work turn-of-the-century magic. For a citrusy taste of the past, try the Ginger Rogers, a gin cocktail inspired by a Jacques Straub recipe from 1914. This light drink is a refreshing mix of gin, fresh mint, ginger and lime.