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The Weeknighter: Hard Water

Hard Water

photo courtesy of Daily Candy

Weekends are for amateurs. Weeknights are for pros. That's why each week Stuart Schuffman will be exploring a different San Francisco bar, giving you the lowdown on how and where to do your weeknight right. From the most creative cocktails to the best happy hours, Stuart's taking you along on his weeknight adventures into the heart of the City's nightlife. So, who wants a drink?

We all know each other. We call ourselves things like bloggers, columnists, reporters, journalists. Personally, I don’t think of myself as a journalist; journalists have to deal with the truth and the truth is often ugly. I just wanna tell stories, so I call myself a writer. All of us writers know each other. At least in San Francisco. 

Most of us were there a month or so back at the opening of Hard Water. In fact that’s where most of us always are: Openings for bars or restaurants or art galleries or concert halls. We go for the free booze and the free food because we get invited and because, while we have the power to absolutely make or break your fucking business by simply typing our fingers, most of us can barely pay our bills. 

This is what Carolyn and I were talking about while I shoveled delicious bits of deep fried alligator and pork belly into my mouth. Many of the usuals were there: Marcia from Tablehopper, John from Chow, Caitlin from the SF Bay Guardian. We all congratulated Allie for taking over as editor for Eater, since Carolyn had moved over to San Francisco Magazine. Most were there to actually do their job: Take photos, scribble notes, ask questions, and ultimately write something about Charles Phan’s latest venture, which is a New Orleans styled whiskey joint on the Embarcadero. I was there to do what I always do, eat and drink the free stuff, flirt, network, and tuck away random thoughts just in case I ended up writing about the place.

Starkly decorated with mostly concrete, marble and whiskey bottles, Hard Water is tiny spot with limited seating, but plenty of room to stand, nibble, and drink. Carolyn and I were tucked into the corner by the shellfish, waiting for oysters to come around and drinking exquisite drinks with names like Dixie Cocktail and Cocktail a la Louisiane. We were debating the merits of this weird lifestyle we lead. On one hand it’s amazing, we get to be creative, and use our brains and our words to turn people onto things that they wouldn’t have known about otherwise. Plus there’s the free shit thrown our way by those simply hoping that we’ll mention their place/product/concept in our writing somewhere. And sometimes we’re able to create things that truly and honestly touch people, so much so that they search us out or email us just to say so. But then there’s the other side, the part of the equation that sometimes keeps us up at night with frets like how will I pay rent this month? and how the fuck will I ever be able to retire when I the only thing I know about a 401k is that I don’t have one?  

Hard Water is incredibly well done. The drinks are perfect, the food is fresh and flavorful, and if it proves successful, San Franciscans are gonna love standing in line forever just to continue standing while they eat and drink inside. But it’s also the kind of place that I probably would never have been able to go to if I didn’t live the weird lifestyle that I do. All of us writers know each other. We see each other at all the openings and media events and we clink drinks and laugh while tasting whatever it is that we’re supposed to be tasting. And then when the drinks have kicked in and the talk gets serious or honest or both, we admit to each other how often we wonder what the fuck we’re doing with our lives. Lucky we almost unanimously come up with the same answer: I don’t really know, but I can’t imagine doing anything else.