A boot shaped glass, otherwise known as "Das Boot," isn’t just a novelty item: It’s also a classic German drinking game. Can you—and hopefully your friends—finish upwards of two liters of Germany’s finest served in a giant stein? How about without letting it touch the table? More Deutcshe than you might think serve up the challenge at these Bay Area Bars. They'll cheer you on or ring a bell when you start, and the prize is intoxicating glory.
Brotzeit Lokal: 1000 Embarcadero (near 10th Ave.), (510) 645-1905
“The boot is the kind of thing the big guys wants,” says Krista Granieri, co-owner of Brotzeit and occasional boot-drinker. “If it’s somebody’s birthday you get the boot.” At this beer garden with a drinking deck on the Oakland Estuary, when you enjoy a 2 liter boot glass, they’ll ring a bell.
Leopold’s: 2400 Polk St (at Union St.), (415) 474-2000
Served by folks in traditional German dirndls, Leopold’s boots come in two liters with even larger steins available. An easy-drinking lager like Stiegl or a Franziskaner hefeweizen is a good choice here. Stay for the exceptional spatzle.
Gestalt Haus: 3159 16th St. (near Guerrero St.), (415) 655-9935
When the wait at Monk’s Kettle is too much, Gestalt Haus next door has three or four boots behind the bar at all times. Ordering requires a $40 cash deposit (the thing is expensive; combine that with heavy drinking). The bar recommends filling up with lower alcohol German beers.
Suppenkuche: 525 Laguna St. (at Hayes St.), (415) 252-9289
“The boot’s a drinking game, traditionally“ says Craig of Suppenkuche. “People from the Marina get it a lot.” So, stereotypes aren’t killing this city: Giant glasses of beer are. Crispy potato pancakes wash down nicely with a session beer in das boot, but don't fill up on too much food (you'll need the room). Ordering a 2 liter boot requires a deposit of $40 that you’ll receive back when you finish the beast.
Schroeder’s: 240 Front St. (near Sacramento St.), (415) 421-4778
Opened in 1893, Schroeder’s bills itself as the oldest and largest German restaurant on the West Coast. Try a light pairing of german cocktail sausage varieties (with sauerkraut and red cabbage, of course) or show up on Friday for a polka night. There’s a $50 deposit to enjoy their fragile mouth-blown glass boot in three sizes, from a personal 42 oz to an over 3 liter 104 oz.
No matter where you get the boot, don't forget to twist the glass when you get past the ankle to the air bubble in the foot, or else you’ll get splashed!