North Beach Journal

Arm wrestling with Aaron Peskin, a Bloody Mary at Gino and Carlo, and neckties in the neighborhood

Gino and Carlo’s has the bloody best Bloody Mary. photo: Thomas hawk / Flickr

As I write this, Gino and Carlo, my favorite North Beach saloon, is looking for a cook to replace Denise Sabella, who died over the Christmas holidays and is sorely missed by all of us in the neighborhood. Being the cook at Gino and Carlo is a good gig. Denise prepared only one meal a month: The first Tuesday of each month she did a family-style, Italian lunch that attracted hordes of hungry folks. So if you are a good cook — and you’d better be — drop into Gino and Carlo and try out.


Those of you who know me will appreciate my ongoing quest for the perfect Bloody Mary. I have journeyed far and wide in this task — to the Hemingway Bar at the Ritz Hotel in Paris and Harry’s Bar in Venice, where legend has it this morning after, eye-opener may have originated. Actually, it was popularized in this country at the King Cole Bar in New York’s St. Regis Hotel, where it was called the Red Snapper. A good drink, but not in the same league as my favorite here in San Francisco.

Bartenders at the late Ed Moose’s Washington Square Bar & Grill had a serviceable Bloody Mary, which I preferred mixed, shaken with ice, then poured through a sieve into a wine glass — the Moose way, we called it. And now, the guys and gals behind the bar at Original Joe’s indulge me by serving my Bloody Mary the same way.

Then one day at Gino and Carlo, instead of my de rigueur Campari and soda with a brandy float, it seemed like Bloody Mary time. Ron Minolli was behind the plank, and I gave him a mandate to exercise his considerable experience. What I received in a short cocktail glass (with ice I should add) was the Perfect Bloody Mary. Quest ended. Here, in Ron’s words, is how he does it:

“Well, first, most bartenders screw up this fine drink by making it too watery. And second, they don’t mix the ingredients into the tomato juice the way they should. Here’s how I do it.

“Get yourself a 12-ounce glass and fill it with ice. Squeeze in the juice of two limes, add four good shakes of salt, and three good shakes of pepper. Next comes about one-half ounce of Worcestershire sauce and a shake or two of Tabasco. Then, about a quarter teaspoon of horseradish right out of the jar. Now is the time to add two ounces of a good vodka.

“Here’s the secret. Before you start pouring in tomato juice, mix thoroughly all the ingredients you have sensibly put into the glass. And only after these are all mixed do you add the tomato juice and mix that in thoroughly.

“See what we’ve done here? We have mixed and blended all the spices and the vodka into the Bloody Mary.”

Yes, Ron, I see.


Because new District 3 Supervisor Aaron Peskin met with Mayor Ed Lee at Mario’s Bohemian Cigar Store Cafe in North Beach for arm wrestling and politics, I thought I would test my juice on the same turf. It worked. At the appropriate time, Peskin showed up wearing his newly acquired toga and laurel leaf crown. “I read your book while I was in Tibet on vacation,” he said. “Great! How did you like it?” I replied. “I loved it, so I gave it to the Dalai Lama,” he said. Obviously we arm-wrestled and then discussed the state of the city. However, I am honor-bound not to reveal details because Peskin is joining me as a columnist for the Marina Times. So now he is not only a city supervisor, but also an ink-stained wretch. Read his musings elsewhere in this issue of the paper.


I went downtown the other day for a celebratory lunch. I wore a sport coat, slacks, white shirt, and a necktie. It seemed like everyone on the streets was wearing a hoodie, blue jeans, and flip-flops. Nothing wrong with that I suppose, but I miss the downtown dress up. When I was a boy in short pants, my parents would take me downtown for lunch occasionally. My mother wore a hat (sometimes with a veil), a good dress, her best cloth coat, and gloves, white or black, depending on the season. My father wore a suit, with a white shirt and necktie, and a gray, snap-brim fedora. With my short pants, I wore a shirt with a necktie and a sport coat. I’d like to see more dress up here in North Beach — even neckties occasionally. North Beach is a classy neighborhood.


A sign at the entrance to the New Sun Hong Kong Restaurant at the corner of Columbus and Broadway advises: “Restrooms for Customers Only — Others $5.”

Overheard at the bar at Original Joe’s:

“Do you have a boyfriend?”

“No, why do you ask?”

“Because I want to apply for the job.”

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