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Meet your mixologist: Monarch Bar

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Refreshing: Danielle “Pooky” Marchant mixes up the Garden Variety — her own simple and light creation — at Monarch Bar in San Francisco. - GODOFREDO VASQUEZ/SPECIAL TO THE S.F. EXAMINER
  • Godofredo Vasquez/special to the s.f. examiner
  • Refreshing: Danielle “Pooky” Marchant mixes up the Garden Variety — her own simple and light creation — at Monarch Bar in San Francisco.

Monarch at Sixth and Mission streets is pretty gritty, but this new hot spot is definitely worth the trip. Part bar, part club, part sexy circus — it’s a visual kaleidoscope. You quickly leave the grungy neighborhood behind after passing through the entryway, a topiary of copper pipes and magnifying glasses. Distinctive chandeliers made of sousaphones and swirling copper hover over the upstairs bar. But the coolest thing is the big, empty oval behind the bar that frames a sexy trapeze artist who performs on weekend nights. “Jaws drop, phones and cameras come out,” said Monarch partner Tadd Cortell. Behind the bar, a Victorian furniture-filled lounge offers great nooks and crannies. The dance club downstairs offers live music nightly. To top it all off, there’s a free photo booth. Handling libations is bartender Danielle “Pooky” Marchant— who is such a Chartreuse fan that she sports an arm tattoo of the bottle’s medieval globe design — has won trips to Paris and Peru for cocktail competitions.

BAR info: 101 Sixth St. (at Mission Street) • (415) 284-9774 • www.monarchsf.com

What makes this cocktail distinctive? Its simplicity — it has only four ingredients. And it has a lot of powerful flavors — thyme, rosemary and the thyme wash in the glass. It’s refreshing and light, and I juice the cucumbers myself with my home juicer.

What bars do you like? I keep it small. I also work at 222 Hyde, 15 Romolo, Izakaya Sozai in the Inner Sunset.
What do you drink? Pisco cocktails. Fernet, because it’s easy to drink. I have a real affection for Amaro and Italian herbal digestifs. I really like green Chartreuse. Pernod, especially the Green Beast cocktail.

What’s the most popular drink here? Ruffian 1975, especially during the Derby season. It’s named after a horse that’s considered to be the greatest female racehorse in history. I really admire her; she ran herself into the ground and worked really hard to be the best. It will always be in my repertoire.

What makes a good bartender? It’s the energy, the atmosphere. Opening customers’ minds to new cocktails and new ways of drinking. I try not to underestimate my customers. It’s chatting with people; it’s camaraderie, across and behind the bar. A lot of people are intimidated by new drinks. I let them inspire me and ask them what’s their favorite spirit.

What famous people have come in? Dale DeGroff, the famous bartender who worked in the Rainbow Room in New York. Gavin Newsom. Kirk Hammett of Metallica is here all the time with the rest of the band.

What’s the most unusual experience you’ve had? A girl got wasted and fell asleep or couldn’t get out of the bathroom. We had to take the door off the hinges. She said she was just chilling out. When she came out her friend punched her in the face out of embarrassment.

What’s the best tip you’ve gotten? I’ve definitely gotten multiple $100 tips and a $300 tip for a big party. One guy actually gave me the shirt off his back because it reminded me of a print shirt my dad used to wear.

Drink Special:

The Garden variety

2 oz. Bombay Sapphire East gin
¾ oz. Farigoule liqueur
1½ oz. cucumber juice
½ oz. lemon juice

Shake ingredients together with ice. Strain mixture into a martini glass that has been rubbed with fresh thyme. Garnish with sprig of fresh rosemary and sprinkle of ground black pepper.