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Food & Drink

Hoist the jolly roger as Trick Dog, San Francisco’s award-winning cocktail bar, goes pirate

a composite image of two tiki drinks
Debuting Monday, Trick Dog's newest menu, "The Salty Dog," is a tiki-esque pirate-driven adventure on the Seven Seas. | Source: Courtesy Nicola Parisi

As it turns 11 years old, an award-winning San Francisco cocktail bar has once again torn up its menu to start all over, as it does twice each year.

Trick Dog, the Mission District’s premiere den of mixology, is going nautical for the next six months. Gone is the yoga-focused “Tantrick Dog” menu, with each drink named for poses and asanas, and in is “The Salty Dog,” a maritime adventure involving four-legged pirates, captained by the fearsome Louise the Tongue—who may or may not be co-founder Josh Harris’ pet pup.

“Our crew of animals have come to these shores to pillage, plunder and party,” the menu reads. “But be ye warned, we aim to take some things with us: your coin, your admiration, and any pictures of cute dogs that you have. So, join our crew for a time.”

As Steve Jobs once said, “It’s more fun to be a pirate than to join the Navy.” To prove that, the Salty Dog is switching up the bar’s interior to look like a tropical cay that’s been taken over by animal-loving buccaneers—or maybe people who love newly reopened San Francisco institution Trad’r Sam without tiki’s undertones of cultural appropriation. In other words, the bar’s commitment to this menu is even deeper than any Trick Dog menu that came before, with bigger Three-Hour Tour energy.

an illustrated tiki cocktail menu
The 17 cocktails of the Salty Dog are meant to evoke the tiki aesthetic without the undertones of cultural appropriation. | Source: Courtesy Trick Dog

More importantly, the Salty Dog cocktail list—17 drinks, each priced at $17—contains a number of all-new, tiki-adjacent creations like the Royal Fortune, a non-dairy clarified milk punch built from Grey Goose vodka, a clarified Amaro Averna passion fruit, fizzy water and clarified passion fruit, orange and guava.

Perhaps the most overtly adventurous drink is the Red Flag Fleet, a scotch whisky punch meant for four people (or more) that’s based on an old recipe that used ambergris, a valuable but foul-smelling substance produced by sperm whales. No actual cetaceans were harmed in the production of this cocktail, which otherwise uses Highland Park 12-Year single malt, Laird’s Jersey Lightning, Meletti Amaro, barbecue sugar, lemon, lime and Miller High Life—the latter listed by its nickname, the “Champagne of Beers.”

Trick Dog also has its first-ever slushy drink in the form of the Adventure Galley, described as a “crushable” green curry Piña Colada made with Don Q Cristal Rum, Bacardi Ocho, green curry, coconut, avocado, makrut lime, more lime and pineapple. Whiskey aficionados know that once-musty Jack Daniel’s is suddenly an industry pioneer again, and it forms the backbone of the Golden Hind (Jack Daniels’ Bonded Rye, Belem’s Madeira Doce, Galliano L’Autentico, vanilla, lemon and something intriguing called cookie curd).

And because the bar has long had a commitment to top-notch nonalcoholic drinks presented in an inclusive, respectful way that makes nondrinking marauders feel like they belong on the Seven Seas, there’s the Wydah, a nonalcoholic mix of spirit alternatives Tenneyson Black Ginger, Wilfred’s Aperitif, Caleño Dark & Spicy, Ritual Tequila Alternative, pickled mango, ginger beer and lime.

a flowery, maximalist shot of a tiki cocktail
The Happy Delivery (Ford’s gin, Choya Single Year umeshu, phở spices, hoisin, absinthe, lime and mint) is another unique cocktail on the Salty Dog menu. | Source: Courtesy Nicole Parisi

While this year will also bring a food-centric Trick Dog offshoot called Quik Dog to Mission Rock, the kitchen at the original is still cranking out favorites like the Famous Kale Salad, all-beef QD Mission Dog, buttermilk-brined chicken Quik Nuggets with honey-mustard and barbecue sauce and a 5-ounce cheeseburger.

As has been the case for numerous Trick Dog iterations, the menu itself is a work of art available for $30. Created by Matt Howse, father of bar manager Travis Howse, it’s a tribute to the Golden Age of Piracy, with each of the 17 cocktails fully illustrated. 

While actual pirates may be swashbuckling around the Alameda waterfront these days, the Salty Dog is a testament to the bar and its deckhands' commitment to creativity—and avoiding scurvy.

Trick Dog

📍 3010 20th St., SF
🔗 trickdogbar.com

Astrid Kane can be reached at astrid@sfstandard.com