When Kristian Cosentino first considered starting his first San Francisco venture, he envisioned opening a small bar serving underrepresented wines and beers, as well as craft cocktails. His deep experience in San Francisco’s “fermented drink world” — most recently serving as the general manager of Press Club — came with the opportunity to “taste things people don’t get to try”, and by showcasing only small wineries and breweries, he hoped to share that experience with the public.
As word of the project spread, old friends and investors jumped onboard, and the operation grew into a 6,252 square foot restaurant with a formal dining room, a bar with six communal lounge areas, 52 beers on tap (three are brewed on site), more than 100 wines available by the glass and a vast selection of rare liquors — Dirty Water has grown even closer to what he originally envisioned, Cosentino said.
The dimly lit alcohol emporium — which opened for the first time last night — is located in the back of the Twitter building’s ground floor lobby and is the first of three long-anticipated new restaurants to open in the building this summer, but Cosentino noted that the location wasn’t always in the plan. He previously had eyes on a space across the street, but a friend in commercial real estate convinced him to take a look.
Cosentino admits that he wasn’t immediately excited about the location — behind the Market on Market and soon-to-open restaurant Bon Marché — but once he saw the clean courtyard outside and giant empty canvas inside, he and his team of architects were able to design a space that was even better than he imagined, he said.
Just about everything inside — the limestone-topped bar, oversized couches and chairs, redwood tables and wine racks — was custom-made for the space, which was designed by architecture and interior design firm Arcsine.
As for the menu, Dirty Water bar manager Zachary Taylor (formerly of Ziryab), said that he designs a cocktail menu to make sure there’s something for everyone: a spirit-forward drink, something fruity, and a bubbly concoction. Then, he focuses on elevating the drinks with a “coherent, cohesive idea that flows from beginning to end.”
Taylor spent three years working on the “Long Strange Trip”, a cocktail that features a candy cap mushroom infused with rye whiskey. While its name officially references the Grateful Dead album, Taylor said it also embodies the long journey to opening Dirty Water’s doors. (It's been in the works since 2013.)
Another featured cocktail close to Taylor’s heart: the Bank Exchange. “If there’s one cocktail I want to be known for, this is it,” he said. A repeat from drink menus he’s designed in the past, Bank Exchange is an ode to the bar that, 100 years ago, stood where the Transamerica Pyramid stands now. The bar’s famous Pisco Punch was infused with cocoa leaves and patrons were limited to two per night, Taylor said.
Executive Chef Jarad Gallagher, Chef de Cuisine Jason Johnson and Managing Partner Kristian Cosentino
Dirty Water also offers a selection of shareable plates designed by executive chef Jarad Gallagher, who is also the executive chef at Chez TJ in Mountain View. The dishes have been billed as “paleo-friendly”, though Cosentino assures that it isn’t a ploy to capitalize on the popular diet. The focus on “really cool meats and really cool vegetables,” he said, stems from their shared beliefs surrounding sourcing only organic, free-range meats.
When asked whether community engagement programs — like those established by Mid-Market eateries The Hall and Equator — were in the works, Cosentino said that building something for the community is “all I ever wanted to do.” He stated that he is highly focused on building and scaling a viable business, and that means hiring local residents, investing in specialized training and helping them reach their professional goals, he said.
Dirty Water is open from 11am-1am Monday through Saturday and 11am to 10pm on Sunday. The kitchen closes from 3-4pm daily, but the bar is open all the way through. A brunch menu and outdoor patio are also still to come, so follow Dirty Water on Facebook for updates.
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