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Food & Drink

Flip a switch to order Champagne at this posh San Francisco venue

A fancy bar top with globe lights and glass windows has barber chair style seats alongside it.
The bar at Holbrook House in the Financial District includes an Italian-made coffee maker and green swivel seats. | Source: Courtesy Matthew Millman

Holbrook House, the swanky bar and restaurant that opened Wednesday in the Financial District, has marble floors and two-person booths upholstered in blue satin. Guests dining at select tables need only flip a switch to call for Champagne or another martini. 

The unusual design feature is among the five-star guest amenities built to match the grandeur of the expansive hall built to house a bank at 1 Sansome St. back in 1910. Its latest transformation includes an oval-shaped bar, forest green old-fashioned barbershop-style chairs and lots of brass.

The Champagne and martini switches at Holbrook House in the Financial District call a bar cart to your table. | Source: Courtesy Matthew Millman

Flip the switch (left for bubbly, right for gin), and a globe-shaped bulb illuminates, prompting a bartender to wheel over a 1920s-era vintage cart with seven kinds of sparkling wine by the glass ($14 to $58 for Dom Perignon) to complement the upscale American menu. The martini cart offers an array of gins and vodkas, with garnishes for the bartender to prepare your cocktail tableside ($16 and up). 

Really want to indulge? To your martini service, add a caviar “bump,” a $10 serving of fish eggs from the California Caviar Company scooped onto the back of your hand (to be eaten, not snorted). It’s a preview of the establishment’s caviar cart service. In case you were wondering, there’s no switch. 

“We were thinking about it,” said Hernan Martinez, general manager and beverage director. “But three lights would have been a lot.”  

The elegant Holbrook House abuts a light-filled atrium known as the Conservatory, a privately owned public open space that was once studded with palm trees and will now operate as a catering venue seating up to 2,000. (It will remain open to the public.) 

One of the seating areas at Holbrook House includes a blue velvet bench and plush red chairs. | Source: Courtesy Matthew Millman

The ground-floor bar and restaurant is led by Philip Siegel, a veteran of the Julia Morgan Ballroom and the Merchants Exchange Club.

In a 2022 Chronicle article, Siegel said the new establishment—which cost an estimated $24 million to renovate—would be a place “where people drink martinis and sip Champagne and feel very good about it.” 

Observers hope it heralds a new era of elegance for the city’s beleaguered Financial District, as Downtown San Francisco strives to cement itself as a high-end nightlife destination, with openings of new venues, including the Dawn Club, Felix and Bar Sprezzatura