First Look: Cocktails at Saison, San Francisco

First Look

Preview brand-new spots to drink (or fresh new menu items) here.

[Photographs: Wes Rowe]

Note: First Looks give previews of new drinks and menus we're curious about. Since they are arranged photo shoots and interviews with restaurants, we do not make critical evaluations or recommendations.

On February 1st, Chef Joshua Skenes and Sommelier Mark Bright re-opened their two-Michelin-starred Saison in a new space in San Francisco's SOMA district. The new space is completely open—about a third of the floor plan is dedicated to a set of large kitchen islands, an 8-foot hearth, a wood fired bread-baking deck oven...and a set of fish tanks. Under the soaring ceilings of the 1880s-era California Electric Light Company Building, the restaurant offers 18 seats for guests partaking in the 18 to 20 course tasting menu ($248 per person, plus optional wine pairings for $148), as well as a new addition: a 12-seat bar and lounge.


No. 4: Akanone carrot shochu, seaweed infused sake, shiso.

The lounge will be reservation only, and will feature Saison's first cocktail program (as soon as the liquor license comes through.) "Our goal is to offer delicious and well-balanced cocktails using the very highest quality ingredients possible: the produce, the spirits—even the sugars," explains Skenes.


Like the plated dishes, the drinks will incorporate elements from the fire, notes Skenes: there will be smoked and grilled components in several of the cocktails. One sherry drink is mixed with a pineapple syrup made from peeled whole pineapples grilled on the hearth, while an upcoming bourbon cocktail is flavored with popped popcorn that was roasted over hot coals.


Glassware isn't an afterthought at Saison: wine from the 5,000-bottle cellar is served in custom-engraved Zalto stemware, and the cocktails will arrive in hand-crafted, finely etched Kimura and Sugahara glasses from Japan.

Check out the slideshow for a preview of the cocktails »


178 Townsend St San Francisco, CA 94107 (map) 415-828-7990; Call for reservations.

Note: Cocktail prices are still to come; those that can be served under the current wine/beer license are available now for $14.

About the Author: Maggie Hoffman is the editor of Serious Eats: Drinks. She lives in San Francisco. You can follow her on Twitter @maggiejane.