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Thad Vogler of Bar Agricole Speaks

A modern, undulating ride of LEED-certified design, Bar Agricole might be the most stunning tavern to ever touch down in San Francisco. The fact that the high-concept, farmcentric tavern is located on one of the most scrappy blocks of the city makes it all the more fascinating. We talked to Thad Vogler, the mad genius behind it all. Just don't call him a mixologist.

So you open on Monday! Are you ready?
They’re fixing the lights and we’ve got to stock everything. Some custom concrete work is still getting done. These booths being made out of Ductile concrete—a new thing where you can take thin concrete and mold it so it undulates. A bunch of my investors are custom artisans. It was hard to raise money last year, so now they own some of what they’re building. It’s created a good sense of community. [Ed's note: See more on the architects and artisans on Tablehopper.]

SoMa—right next to Slim's—is a curious spot for a gorgeous, cutting-edge LEED certified gold tavern.
I’m curious to see how it goes too! I helped open Heaven’s Dog and that was kind of underwhelming. But we catch the lower Mission with Saison and Flour + Water near by. There’s all the condos. I think the time is right for SoMa.

What cocktail are you most excited about?
I like to go to Martinique. The national drink there is a simple cocktail called Ti' Punch. They serve it really rustically with a little bucket of ice and the cane syrup and you sort of make your own. So we’ll be doing a bottle service with tea punch I’m excited about that.

I say handlebar mustache, you say …
I think that trend will settle down. [The cocktail world] will become part of the present instead of being part of that kind of nostalgia. We’re doing a tavern but it’s definitely a contemporary tavern. I’m trying to be San Francisco now.

Any page boy caps?
Our bartenders have their choice of a couple aprons. But it’s not thematic.

Your biggest hope?
My biggest hope is that Bar Agricole becomes like a European café where you might come for coffee in the morning and a drink before dinner. Right now our hours are 6 pm to 1 am. But the goal is to open all day.

Tell me more about the food being cooked by former Magnolia chef Brandon Jew.
We're not trying to be particularly inventive. We’re sort emulating places we like to eat. I love Bar Jules. That’s my favorite restaurant. Simple, knowledgable, really comfortable. You really feel fed when you leave there.

Why did you call it Bar Agrigole?
It’s named for agrigole rhum—the only one that has its own A.O.C. We’re sourcing that kind of spirit as much as possible. Made in smaller batches and less industrial products.

You've been at this for a while. What keeps you excited about the spirit world?
Right now, I’m really excited about American whiskeys made by small distillers. That’s what’s most exciting about cocktails. Spirits used to be made by small distillers and we’re seeing more and more of that.

What kind of bar do you love the most?
I really love the bars in Havana. I just love them. They’re just timeless and stunning. Not like what we’ll do here but they just have such a strong sense of place. I’d like to create something that has such a strong place. That’s our strength [here in SF]. We don’t have the labor pool or technique of New York, but we have a sense of place and quality of ingredient.

What have you been drinking to get through this opening?
Honestly, a lot of oolong tea.

Bar Agricole, 355 Eleventh St.