North Beach Journal

A Bull Shot, me and Julio, and a wig for Halloween

Supervisor Peskin with Rosalie Jacques. Photo: courtesy Rosalie Jacques


Recently I had a yen for a Bull Shot, so I got myself over to Original Joe’s and consulted with bartender Michael Fraser. While preparing one for me — vodka and beef broth — Michael told me the bull shot was a favorite of Sterling Hayden, actor-adventurer, who once lived on his schooner anchored in Sausalito.

Here’s the recipe for the Bull Shot the way Michael Fraser made them for Sterling Hayden at Perry’s: A slug of vodka, salt and pepper, celery salt, tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, a squeeze of lime. To this add Campbell’s beef broth, shake and pour into a glass filled with ice cubes.

The Sterling Hayden bull shot Michael Fraser made for me was special — shaken and strained into a wine glass — the way I like my Bloody Mary. Now at Original Joe’s my bull shot is known as Ernie’s B. S.

I’m honored.


Kenneth Rexroth, the late San Francisco poet and essayist, said he liked San Francisco “… because it is accessible to the Western mountains, remote from New York cultural domination, and virtually the only major American city that was not settled by puritans, but by gamblers, prostitutes, rascals, and fortune seekers.”


Not long ago I ran into Herbert Gold, the prolific San Francisco novelist-essayist. He had strolled down from the Olympian heights of Russian Hill, where he’s lived for many years, to see how the proletarian coffeehouse dwellers were doing in North Beach.

I told him he was mentioned in a new biography of Ernest Hemingway by Mary Dearborn. Seems Hemingway was a fan of Gold’s and at one point in the book Dearborn said Hemingway asked his New York publisher to send him whatever books were available by the San Francisco author.

Gold perked up at my comment and offered me (and therefore, you) an interesting story. Many years ago, he was in Havana with George Plimpton, founding editor of the Paris Review. Over a period of several weeks, Plimpton was interviewing Hemingway for the magazine, and at some point, told him Herb Gold was in town. The following day Gold received a telephone call at his hotel from Hemingway’s wife, Mary.

She said, “Papa would like you to go fishing with him tomorrow.”

“I replied I couldn’t make it because I was flying home for Christmas to see my kids,” Gold told me.

“That can wait,” Mary Hemingway said. “It’s more important you go fishing with Papa.”

“What did you do?” I asked Gold.

“I thought she was rude, so I hung up on her. Then I went home for the holidays. And that’s why I never got to fish with Ernest Hemingway.”


A while back here in North Beach, I got into an argument about oysters. In this neighborhood, you can argue about anything, but arguing about food is a popular sport. I maintained that Eastern oysters were better than the Westerners. So a few chums and I conducted an oyster-off — something like a blind tasting of various wines. Our tasting battlefields were Sotto Mare, Betty Lou’s Seafood and Grill, and the Ferry Plaza Seafood. The winners were the French Kisses from New Brunswick, which we tasted at Sotto Mare. French Kisses — not to be confused with a kiss-off — had the edge. Then they always do, don’t they?


I dropped into Gypsy Rosalie’s shop the other day to buy a wig: needed one for hanging out in restaurants I gave bad reviews; didn’t want to get hammered by disgruntled cooks. Rosalie Jacques is the master — make that mistress — of wig making and has created show-stopping wigs for Las Vegas revues, San Francisco topless dancers, drag queens, and just plain folks since 1957. Her shop in North Beach (1457 Powell Street), is wig heaven. Halloween is coming up, and who doesn’t want to be bewigged for our city’s greatest event? And yes, in case you were wondering, Rosalie has sold wigs to nuns who have left the nunnery.


On an almost daily basis I wait for the Muni 39 bus to take me up Telegraph Hill and home. That’s why I can usually be found on the corner of Stockton and Union Streets by Original Joe’s. And that’s how I got to know Julio, who parks cars there for customers going to the restaurant. If I have one too many Bull Shots with my lunch — quick as a flash — Julio straightens me out, and gets me aboard without incident. (Thank you, Julio. And thank you, Paul Simon.)


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