The Devil's Acre pays tribute to the Barbary Coast era of the 1850's to the early 1900's. Step inside to sample a nod to the past when barkeeps were prescribing a variety of alcohol based mixtures that were supposed to “cure what ails you.”
OUR ARTICLEBY: Ryan Kirk Contributing writer
It was between the hours of dusk and dawn that the city raged in debauchery. Imagine grey skies with red highlights, bloodshot eyes, and crime street violence. The Barbary Coast was San Francisco’s Red Light District, and in the lawless section of madness laid The Devil’s Acre, an intoxicating stretch of mayhem on Kearny St. between Pacific and Broadway. It was the 1800s, and the California gold rush had created more than just 49ers — it sponsored a city of brothels, clubs, and saloons.
As morning light crept over the sea, the feverish look of revelry receded into the smug eyes of the johns who welcomed the night’s power. The pain of the preceding hours became evident, and a solution of any kind was called upon. Apothecaries had their hands filled, treating pains and morning illnesses with substances that included bitters, herbs, concentrated flowers, and of course booze — ingredients that you will now find in cocktails. This begged the patrons of the mid 19th century to ask themselves the $100 question: medicine man or bartender?
The Devil’s Acre sits as a reminder that fun and trouble run a thin line, and sometimes we need to glance over that fence to feel alive.
Well, speak of the Devil… In present day North Beach, where the Barbary Coast once laid claim, The Devil’s Acre has been resurrected, now in new form but still up to its old, notorious tricks. Combining the ingredients of antiquated pharmacies with cocktails, The Devil’s Acre is a reservation bar paying deference to the once unruly area of San Francisco. The bar accentuates the notion that in a time not too long ago, your local pharmacist and saloon keeper dug in the same medicine bag for healing remedies. Rest assured that any drink ordered is made by a doctor at his craft; which explains the leather smocks that the cocktail practitioners wear, providing them safety from the black magic created for you to revel in.
The bar is decorated with floor tiles that are replicas of vintage wooden pill tiles and time-worn apothecary jars, canisters, and devices. The two-story bar offers tableside service and standing room. While the main room has windows, you may be looking for something a bit more secluded. Head down the staircase to find Remedie Room; it’ll provide you with the dark sanctuary your soul was craving for.
The choice is yours, but when you choose to make a deal with the Devil, look for a menu disguised as an almanac. Our CYTIES vice suggestion? “Call A Treuse,” which is made up of Green Chartreuse, Yellow Chartreuse, Dry Vermouth, lemon, vanilla syrup, egg whites, Gold Rush Bitters, and thyme. When negotiating for your soul, sometimes a truce is the best outcome. That is, of course, unless you’re a fiddle player from Georgia, in which case you’d better not give the Devil his due!
So, while the times have changed a bit from the old Barbary Coast days, with more laws and regulations, The Devil’s Acre sits as a reminder that fun and trouble run a thin line, and sometimes we need to glance over that fence to feel alive. And when you go too far, it’s your call — medicine man or bartender? We ask you to raise your glass in cheers with us:
“May the roof over your head be always strong. And may you be in heaven a full half hour before the devil knows you’re dead.”
The mixtures from Devil’s take you on a ride, check out the libations here
The Remedie Room awaits in the bellows: Sunday – Tuesday from 6pm–midnight & Wednesday – Saturday from 6pm–9pm or 9:30pm-1:30am
Happy Hour is rockin’ from Mon-Sat until 7 PM and all night on Sunday
The true devil is in the details, the bar is simply a masterpiece with throwback design