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Read Text Only: Nightlife
Blackbird Bar
by Chase Chambers


Blackbird makes it difficult for any pedestrian walking through the Church Street corridor not to stop and take notice of its quaint sophistication. A quick glance through the half opened Dutch door will give you an eyeful and quickly warm you without reason. The truth is that Blackbird is a neighborhood bar with a little bit for everyone and a concept that is truly San Francisco.
Shawn Vergara and the late Doug Murphy intended Blackbird to have all the appeal of a contemporary and newly remodeled establishment, but also capture the history and roots that have long been established by the neighborhood and that particular location. Originally the Expansion, the bar has lived many different lives. The design itself, a collaboration with Craig Walters, is an effortless combination of new and old. Washed out wood planks, old San Francisco Chronicles pasted to the walls, and a hand written menu on butcher paper compliment the stunning original 100-year-old back bar. This subdued but rich texture offers the perfect backdrop for the colorful modern artworks and eclectic crowd that bring Blackbird to life night after night.

Arguably, people and booze are the real appeal of Blackbird. The handpicked staff sets the mood right from the start. Gina Butler, bar manager, and the rest of the crew serve up the thoughtful menu of homespun cocktails and noteworthy beers with care and finesse until the old ship bell rings out for last call every evening. Their artfully constructed beverages, like The Stovepipe, highlight the talent and attention to detail that can only be described as a passionate collaboration.
It is no surprise that Blackbird has quickly become the watering hole of all types of city dwellers since it’s opening last July. Men, women, gay, and straight fill the booths and crowd around the bar to socialize and laugh while listening to everything from pop hits to 50’s crooners playing through the night.
Blackbird has a lot going on that is not to be missed. Be sure to geek out on their selection of wine and spirits. Their exclusive offering of Brother Thelonius Belgium style abbey ale and a regularly rotated array of wines are a must. Local artwork (owner Shawn Vergara curates) is on constant rotation. Regular old cocktail favorites, like The Early Bird, remain available even though not on the menu, and there is always something new and exciting to experience.