The best-kept secret of San Francisco's bar scene is definitely Big, located in the Tenderloin. For some time now the Tenderloin has been the hub for cocktail bars; from Bourbon & Branch to Rye to Whiskey Thieves, there's a number of good spots to enjoy a deliciously innovative take on a classic drink. So what makes Big stand out? Well, to start out with, there is no menu.
With an opulent array of seasonal fruits and fresh herbs at hand, the bartenders at Big take orders by getting to know the individual preferences of each patron. Upon entering the bar, you will be asked what your favorite spirit is.
From there, the conversation moves toward a preference of fruity or dry drinks, something that is more or less booze-forward, until you are presented with a delicious cocktail you would have never thought to order. It's definitely a place for the more adventurous spirit, but also rest assured that every cocktail these bartenders make will be a hit.
So why hasn’t the public heard of this bar? Well, it's a tiny space, for starters, so to keep it a low-key, enjoyable and relaxing environment, there hasn't been basically any PR done (Big doesn't even have a website, although it is on Yelp with 4.5 stars). Also, the bartenders obviously put so much care into crafting each drink, so the bar wouldn't work if it were constantly packed.
Says bartender Christian Clark, "[Big] doesn't really bother with PR, it gets its business through word of mouth."
This is precisely why most of the patrons of this bar are in the food industry; either cooks or bartenders that heard through their other bartender friends that this is the place to relax with an amazing drink. And so, if you are looking for a place to have a simple whiskey ginger and get a little rowdy (which, some nights, is just what the doctor ordered), this bar that serves cocktails from $10-13 isn't the place for you, but definitely check out Big the next time you're in the mood to treat yourself.