As we told you last month, there are some major changes in the works at Ziryab. Not only is the restaurant at 528 Divisadero getting a renovation, but it's getting a new bar program, courtesy of Zachary Taylor.
Zachary, who lives in the Mission, most recently spent almost a year working at Hog and Rocks. There, he honed his skills under bar manager Michael Lazar, who Zachary describes as an "amazing cocktail mixologist" and a "rock-solid dude." "Working under him was one of the highlights of my career and pushed my thinking about cocktails in a direction that's a little more refined than it was in the past," he says. His preferences lean toward spirit-forward, visually appealing cocktails that "push the boundaries a little bit," often involving flavors that seemingly wouldn't balance each other, but do. This past April, a friend in the industry sent Zachary an ad for the Ziryab bar manager position. Zachary got in touch with Ziryab's owners, and they "chatted for 4 or 5 hours just about bars and how they should be run." Soon, the job was his. The owners were looking to bring some new life to Ziryab, Zachary explains. "They decided to completely renovate it, build out a bar and put in a good cocktail program with a high-end spirits selection." That means a heavy focus on whiskeys, but also mezcal, tequila, gin, and some sipping rums. They're also bringing back the restaurant's original chef to give the food menu an update. But can dishes like lamb shawermas and Moroccan tagines coexist with a modern San Francisco cocktail program? Zachary doesn't sound worried. "It's been a challenge to learn about some flavors, but the way I'm going to do the bar program is to have bi-monthly changes to the menu. We'll see what's working and what's not, and bring in some bartenders to do some craft cocktails. And we're definitely doing cocktails with Mediterranean flavors — I made a good Arak cocktail with yogurt liqueur that fit the flavor profile." Zachary hasn't decided which drinks will make the opening lineup yet, but the Arak cocktail is a strong contender. As for timing, he says Ziryab's renovation is nearly complete. "They're finishing up the last little bit of construction — we're talking light fixtures at this point... Now it's just a matter of working out the menu." In all likelihood, that means Ziryab will be reopening some time next week. "Definitely this month," Zachary assures us. Stay tuned...
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