The newest addition to SF's bar scene is an Irish bar, but it's not the kind that you think.
Local bar vets Gillian Fitzgerald (Virgil’s Sea Room, WesBurger) and Sean O’Donovan (Mission Bowling Club, Driftwood), both of whom are legit Irish from Ireland, and Chris Hastings (the Castro's Lookout) partnered last fall to take over the former Gashead Tavern at 2351 Mission Street and turn it into the kind of modern cocktail spot you might find these days in Dublin. And this week is officially opening week for the bar, which is called Casements — named for gay Irish nationalist, poet, and human rights crusader Roger Casements.
"We’re all still here and in love with the city even though sometimes it doesn’t love us back. [And] I want people to see our personalities come though, and not just as an Irish bar," said Fitzgerald back in November, speaking to SF Weekly. As such, Casements is adorned with a portrait of Mr. Casements as well as those of some other contemporary heroes like Thin Lizzy lead singer Phill Lynott, and drag queen gay rights activist Panti Bliss. See a bunch of pretty photos of the space via Eater here.
"We were sick of the American perception of Irish bars,” Fitzgerald tells Eater. “[So] We wanted to defy expectations.”
The bar is celebrating its grand opening with a private party on Saturday, but it's softly open to the public right now. As the team tells Eater, reflecting the booming craft spirits industry in Ireland, the bar stocks 50 Irish whiskeys and 20 Irish gins, many of which are being made by craft distilleries that are just a decade or so old. Casements sports a cocktail program featuring drinks made with other spirits — including mezcal, tequila, and American bourbon. And there's a drink called Running on Island Time that's made with an Irish moonshine called Glendalough Poitin.
Fear not: There's Guinness on tap, and the team says it wants to vie for the title of the best Guinness pour in the city, in part with a keg that sits directly below the bar.
But whiskey fans should certainly taste the array of imported brown liquors from Ireland, or try the frozen cocktail called Ode to Orleans made with Powers Irish whiskey, Kerrygold Irish Cream, maple syrup, and Andytown cold brew.
Also, there's a hearty snack menu featuring a traditional "Mammy's" Irish stew, chicken curry with chips, and savory hand-pies by Revenge Pies, including the delicious looking meat pie below. There's also a vegan version made with mushrooms.
For now, Casements is open from 4 p.m. onward, with final hours TBA. Follow the bar on Instagram here.
Casements - 2351 Mission Street between 19th and 20th