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.
No Irish Need Apply? Not anymore