I had the chance to visit the new Virgin Hotel in San Francisco to check out its two bars.
The lobby bar and restaurant is called Commons Club. The lobby has one small lounge area, a narrow bar area, and the dining area that has some additional cocktail seating. The cocktails in the lobby, designed by consultant Tommy Quimby (Trick Dog) are meant to be more serious than the ones on the roof. The drinks are named after Virgin Records.
I like how they call out dairy and nuts on the menu. I tried the Human League (tapatio blanco tequila, campari, jamaican carrot juice) and found it earthy and surprisingly dry for a slightly creamy drink, with a nice Campari backbone.
The Culture Club (spring 44 gin, st. germain elderflower liqueur, hibiscus, blood orange) is Instagram bait with the caper berry in a sugar cup, but was pretty unremarkable in flavor.
Upstairs is called Everdene, named for a book character rather than Catniss from the movies. There is a central bar with seating and two different wings off to the side that can be reserved for private events. If the whole roof is open, you can see a 360 degree view of San Francisco. The hotel is located across the street from the Children's Creativity Museum with the carousel at Yerba Buena. It has a great view of the Salesforce Tower on one side and the Sutro Tower on the other.
The roof opens at 5PM and people line up on the ground level alley entrance waiting to get in. (This is much like SF's other rooftop hotel bar Charmaine's.) As they exit the elevator on the roof and show their ID to the bouncer, they practically pounce on the available seating and fill the bar within just a few minutes of opening time. It's quite the scene.
The drink menu, also designed by Quimby, is filled with slightly floral and very crushable crowd pleasers in a range of bright colors and flavors. The drinks lived up to their billing - no complaints on any of the three that I tried.
The Her Majesty's Pleasure has tequila, cucumber, mint, snap peas, and lime juice, and was pleasantly minty in flavor.
Maiden's Blush is made with rum, ginger, beet juice, lemon, and pineapple. It's largely a rum and spicy ginger drink.
Revived Spring is a low-ABV drink made with Chareau, mango, galangal, lime, and soda. It was super tasty (love that Chareau) and a little gingery from the galangal.