The new trend of speakeasy concepts is increasingly common among San Francisco cocktail bars, most of them employing a Prohibition-era 1920s theme. But the newest entry in the reimagined speakeasy arena is taking a unique tack. Eater reports that upscale Chinatown plaza China Live has opened a hidden cocktail bar called Cold Drinks, adding another attraction to the everything-Chinese-themed retail and food destination and providing a classier option to a neighborhood that otherwise has a pretty modest selection of not-dumpy, not-divey bars.
How Cold Drinks is “hidden” is not exactly clear, though Eater does note the location is in the upstairs of one of China Live’s restaurants. Eater’s Ellen Fort visited Cold Drinks to speak with beverage director Duggan McDonnell (formerly of Cantina fame), and she notes that the ambiance and Broadway Street views are lovely, and that scotch whiskey is the place’s calling card.
“There are a lot of people who find scotch inapproachable,” McDonnell told Eater. “In order for it to be fun, it needs to work with things people like to order — every cocktail needs to be a bridge to a new audience.”
Other notable idiosyncrasies include the bartenders all wearing tuxedos, a black marble bar, French and Japanese glassware in a space whose capacity is about 50 people.
Cold Drinks has already soft-opened and they’ve been posting on Instagram since February. They open at 4 p.m. daily, a menu of light snacks may be introduced after an official opening whose date has not been announced.