An Irishman’s speakeasy bar has been named among the top 10 bars in America by “Esquire” magazine.
Brian Sheehy, 37, who grew up in Annascaul, Co. Kerry, recreated a 1930s inspired speakeasy called Bourbon and Branch Tavern, which has become a popular nightspot in San Francisco.
Just like a traditional speakeasy, customers must whisper a password to gain entry to the bar.
“This building has been a pub since 1865 and right through the prohibition years from 1920 to 1933 it operated as a speakeasy. That was the atmosphere we wanted to recreate and that’s what we’ve done,” Sheehy told the “Irish Examiner.”
"We don’t advertise at all. We have never spent a cent on marketing and there isn’t even a sign up outside to tell you there is a pub here because that would ruin the speakeasy flavor."
Planning a trip to the popular bar must be done well in advance. Selling drinks only, customers must ring ahead and book a table. Over 700 people a week are turned away, but if you are lucky enough to get a place, you are sent a password by email. If you arrive more than 15 minutes late, your reservation is lost.
Located at 501 Jones Street in San Francisco’s down-market Tenderloin District, the speakeasy’s neighborhood is run down. Without a street address, revelers have to take a guess as to which one of the doors leads to the popular bar.
Once you ring the correct door bell, a waitress greets you with a smile, before asking for the night’s password.
About to enter its fifth year, the bar is thriving. The relaxed atmosphere and strict booking policy means the bar never gets too crowded.