The snazzy sounds of vintage jazz, the ornate accents of Art-Deco decor and clothing, the thrilling rush of partaking in libations during the Prohibition era. These are all the aspects Bourbon & Branch amplifies in their authentic speakeasy.
Located at 501 Jones St., this fun bar has been providing the community and visitors alike with a true-to-life 1920’s-style experience since 2006, serving up innovative drinks that are either genuine to the times or modernized, but all totally secretive.
After a difficult shutdown during the pandemic, Bourbon & Branch was able to bounce back with the return of indoor seating towards the end of 2021, since outdoor parklets were not conducive to their speakeasy atmosphere.
While restaurants began to reopen in the summer of 2021, they remained closed to focus on renovations and elegant revitalizations to enhance their alluring establishment even further.
And their grand reopening definitely did not disappoint. “Welcome back to the roaring 20’s," was the exuberant caption on their Instagram post on November 4th, 2021, introducing their loyal patrons and curious newcomers to glorious velvet wallpaper, all new flooring, and their inventive “au courant” drink menu now punched up unlike ever before.
Their classic “Standards” cocktail menu still remain, with favorites like the “Everything But,” “Spice Trader,” and of course, their delicious Mint Juleps.
Perfectly refreshing, their bourbon-forward concoction is highly acclaimed for being true to the Kentucky original, strong and served from a real silver Julep cup.
They also offer a wide selection of premiere whiskeys, such as Buffalo Trace, Rittenhouse 21 year, and the top-shelf prized Canadian Crown XR. Their high-quality Scotch includes Glenmorangie Margaux Finish, Monkey Shoulder, and 1971 Balvenie for a diverse and well-rounded stock perfect for any visitor.
Authenticity is key at Bourbon & Branch, as they aim to not only deliver a uniquely immersive bar experience (complete with no electronics usage!), but also a historical awareness of the San Francisco prohibition scene.
They also feature the JJ Russell Cigar Shop, which actually operated from 1923-1935 to provide multiple escape routes through many underground tunnel passageways that led to Geary Street, Jones Street, and two exits to O'Farrell Street, which remain in effect today.
Just like in those cunningly sneaky days, entering this ritzy speakeasy requires a password after ringing their buzzer, which will then allow you to be escorted into their glamorous Library bar. They also offer a “beverage academy” for cocktail classes, ensuring you will be educated on both spirits and clever spirit-smuggler history.
Reservations are recommended, but cocktails can be sampled anytime all week between 6pm-2am. Bonus points for dressing the part as well.
Their authentic and unique experience, along with their incredible mint juleps, is unlike anywhere else in the city, and all you need is a password.
Photography by: Adam Jaime/Unsplash