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?
I walked into Doc’s Clock and everyone cheered. I knew they liked me there, but not enough for that kind of salutation. Looking down past where the bar ends, I saw the cluster of people gathered around the shuffleboard table and realized my arrival wasn’t as momentous as I’d thought; someone had just out-shuffled someone else. Given that it was late on a Wednesday, it was a local crowd. All walks of life were represented, like some kind of Mission United Nations. Old man drunks, heavily tattooed pin-ups, skinny boys in skinny jeans, new-to-the-neighborhood start-uppers, off work Salvadorean cooks and a couple of working girls getting a drink in before heading back to Capp Street. This was the Mission that I loved. It felt like the one I moved into in 2004 in that time between the bust of the dot com bubble that whizzed around the city like a balloon with the air let out, and whatever the fuck the historians are gonna call this thing we’re living through right now.
Doc’s Clock is like that though. The closest to that world embodied by Valencia, with its glut of great restaurants and well-thought-out boutiques, comes to infiltrating Doc’s, is when the restaurant employees from the surrounding eateries stop through for their post-shift drinks. I settled into a barstool between an old guy muttering into his whiskey and a lesbian couple deep into working out some shit about their relationship. The darker haired of the two Carries who work there came up and poured me a shot of Jameson. “Stuart! Long time no see! Let me buy you a shot.”
Doc’s used to be a regular of mine when I lived only a few blocks away, but since my move in January I haven’t been able to give it the love and attention that our relationship needs. One of the deep-in-conversation lesbians was saying her girlfriend was doing the same thing to her. It’s hard to foresee where life’s currents are gonna drag us. “Yeah, sorry Carrie. Now that I live on the other side of the Mission, I’m just not over here that much any more, but I miss you all.” I told her as she poured me another. Despite being one of the most dog-friendly bars in SF, Doc’s was canine-less that night. The second Carrie usually brings her rescued Greyhound, and other patrons bring their furry pals as well. Doc’s Clock is also proudly one of San Francisco’s greenest bars. They’ve been certified as such and have signs around the bar saying so. But those aren’t my reasons for going there.
I go to Doc’s Clock because of the great people who work there. I go because the drinks are stiff and cheap. I go because they have board games and shuffleboard. I go because it reminds me of my younger days and that other Mission that I loved so much. But mainly I go because their neon sign that says “Cocktail Time” once said “Cock Time”, and that’s just fucking hilarious.
Stuart Schuffman has been called "an Underground legend" by the SF Chronicle, "an SF cult hero" by the SF Bay Guardian, and "the chief of cheap" by Time Out New York. He is also the host for the IFC travel show Young, Broke & Beautiful. Follow him @BrokeAssStuart.