Pagan Idol: Now open, a new tiki bar from the team behind Bourbon & Branch
Say aloha to Pagan Idol, the latest bar from Future Bars, the team behind Bourbon & Branch, Rickhouse, etc., which opens its doors tonight (Wednesday, February 23) in the Financial District. For the group’s newest project, which is an over-the-top celebration of all things tiki, owner Brian Sheehy just wanted his team to have fun. At first glance, it certain seems like they’ve succeeded.
The project is a largely collaborative undertaking according to beverage director Daniel Parks and general manager Justin D’Olier. The relative newcomers to the Future Bars group both have solid bar/tiki backgrounds. Originally from San Diego, Parks worked at Trader Vic’s among other bartending gigs and D’Olier, was a cocktail writer in Hawaii prior to joining Bourbon & Branch in 2013. (The bar also nabbed a couple of bartenders from the Tonga Room for even more tiki cred.)
Located just around the corner from sister bar Rickhouse, the roughly 1,900-square-foot space is divided into two separate areas. Up front, there’s the nautical-themed “Captain’s Quarters” and in the back is a tropical island bar — an oasis that comes complete with large wooden tiki sculptures, private tiki huts, a twinkling starry evening sky and even an erupting volcano water fixture. Parks and D’Olier say that the whimsical design of the space was largely a group effort by the entire Future Bars team, though much of the credit goes to Ivan Mora who has been with Future Bars since the early days.
Parks says that the notion behind the flow of the bar is to loosely tell the story of tiki’s origins — from Captain Cook’s early travels (hence the “Capitain’s Quarters” space up front) to how modern tiki culture became popularized in America. Ultimately, they wanted to create a warm, welcoming and transportive place that people won’t want to leave.
Drinks-wise, the main menu of about 13 cocktails and 3 punch bowls focuses on riffs on classic tiki and other tropical drinks, including the Mai Tai Float ($12) and the Daywalker ($15), which is a play on the classic Zombie. For purists, there’s also a secret classics menu of about 60-80 old school beverages, which will continue to expand as time goes on. For folks who like frozen slushy drinks, there’s the off-menu Pagan Potion #9 ($13), a piña colada made with chartreuse.
Hours to start will be 4 p.m.-midnight Monday-Saturday. Starting next week, most likely, the bar will expand its hours and stay open until 2 a.m.
Sarah Fritsche / SF GATE