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Harlequin - SoMa Bar Brings a Gatsby-Style Party to Downtown San Francisco

When Phil Chen and the team behind SoMa’s new restaurant and bar, the Harlequin, first stepped into their new space at Fourth and Jessie streets, it was completely unchanged from when former tenant Keystone shutdown due to the pandemic in 2020. Bottles and items remained as if “everyone just got up and left,” Chen says. Yet, he knew the space’s potential from his early 2000s office days, when he frequented the corner spot for happy hours with co-workers, back when it was known as Annabelle’s Bar and Bistro.

Given the bar’s proximity to hotels — not to mention its location inside the Mosser Hotel — as well as the Moscone Center and downtown offices, the Harlequin represents an important opportunity to help downtown grow and to change the narrative surrounding San Francisco, Chen says. “There’s so many great things about the city,” Chen says, “but I feel like the national focus is on the negative. Our hope is to show that there are people still opening restaurants in downtown.”

For the drink menu, the Harlequin team wanted cocktails that are “fun and unique, but not unapproachable,” Chen says. With that, the team focused on relatable drinks that read as distinctive, but with recognizable ingredients.

There are mainstays such as an Old Fashioned or the unavoidable espresso martini, but there’s also the rum-based Ube Colada, featuring touches of ube, coconut, and pineapple flavors, with a tart touch of lime. There’s also a sizable wine menu featuring local and international options, and brews on draft, plus a handful of nonalcoholic options.

They’re meant to feel just as special as any other cocktail on the menu, such as the Phoenix Rising, which is made with a strawberry-chile shrub and ginger beer. It’s another note they’re taking from lessons learned at Members Only, putting thought into their nonalcoholic options in the spirit of inclusivity, Chen says.

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