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Holy Revisionist History, Batman!

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In Sunday's SF Chronicle, there was an great article about the best "gin joints" in the San Francisco Bay Area. Basically, any bar that was unique and had real character, some more dives than others. Pleased to report that two of our favorites made the list:

Club Mallard:

752 San Pablo Ave., Albany. (510) 524-8450.
Denizens: Locals, college students.
Decor: Field & Stream aficionados appreciate log walls, duck mural; hipsters dig the tiki vibe. Curved bar. Banquettes. Pool table. Fireplace. Upstairs, Minnesota Fats-style pool hall.
Entertainments: Pool, anyone?
Celebrity bartender: Gil Rosson, 25 years behind the plank.
Jukebox: 4 for $1. Elliot Smith, Porter Wagoner, the Rat Pack.
Extras: Not only are there two outdoor patios (smoke 'em if you got 'em), all torches, totems and vintage geegaws are tiki-fied.

The Mallard sits smack-dab in the middle of what was once Albany's hot strip. Opened in 1934, it was first called the Doghouse because of a nearby dog track. A brief stint as Club Pago Pago. Since 1945 the vintage sign ( a martini glass and a duck) reads Club Mallard.

Go Robin!

AND (you just can't keep a good dive Tiki Bar down, you nattering nabobs of negativity)


BUT! (here's the exciting part of the story) Check out what they said in the review:

Co-owner Dorothy Munguia Riedel, whose parents owned the joint before, has tried to track down its lore. Late '30s, a merchant marine named Sam returns home with a stash of rum. In 1939, he erects this tiki temple to South Seas culture. Now comes the sticky part (and not from spilled drinks on the bar): Trad'r Sam or Trader Vic? Riedel's heard that Sam tried to sue Vic when Vic renamed Hinky Dinks, his original Oakland outpost, to Trader Vic's. But published reports say the name change occurred '37.

So, I'm sure Vic's was first. But...what if...what if...it wasn't?!?!

[ Edited by: martiki on 2003-12-15 21:24 ]

1000 points to Martiki for the Safire/Agnew line.

On 2003-12-15 21:28, purple jade wrote:
1000 points to Martiki for the Safire/Agnew line.

He was a silver tongued devil wasn't he. And the batman theme ties right in with the '60's poster of Dick & Spiro as "the dynamic duo" that hung in every head shop in America.

On 2003-12-15 21:28, purple jade wrote:
1000 points to Martiki for the Safire/Agnew line.


I didn't know you were a political junkie like myself!

Here's an easy one: When did Nixon say "you won't have Nixon to kick around anymore..."

(don't google either!)


[ Edited by: purple jade on 2003-12-16 09:55 ]

I'm not, really, but I have one of those brains that picks up odd bits like velvet picks up lint. And I picked up a lot of it prepping to be on a game show a few years ago.

When he lost the governor's race.

[ Edited by: purple jade on 2003-12-16 09:54 ]

DO tell, PJ - WHAT game show?? And did you make it?

Yeah, I made it. And I won a game, away from a two-time champ. Then got trounced by somebody else from N.O.

The answer is: This game show is hosted by a pompous Canadian.

Wow! That's great, pj, but I gotta say it's no big surprise you'd do well.

Really? It was to me.
I lucked out on the Final in the first game, but got royally screwed by what I believe to be an error on the writers' part in the second game. Otherwise I'd probably have won that one too.


Back to the subject at hand: more drinking and less politics!

Here's a link to the story for those who don't subscribe to the paper:


Good ol' Gil, daytime bartender at Club Mallard, AKA The Silver Fox. These days he only works 2 or 3 days a week, but he often has a couple after work at the downstairs bar. Buy him a Kessler and water if you see him. Oh, and check out the 1950s photo of him with his car in front of El Cerrito High School in the hallway upstairs.

Glad to see them mention a few of my favorites: Tosca, Mr. Bing's, The Alley.

Congratulation's Martin, Trader Sam's is almost respectable now :wink:


The good ol' Mallard doesn't need any more press...pleeease! You can't even go near the place on a Friday or Saturday night. Afternoon's a different story :wink: It's still my fave, though, and I'm so happy it's my neighborhood bar.

I thought the list was pretty thoughtful until I got down to the Silver Peso in Larkspur. If your idea of fun is hanging out with really loud, drunken frat boys itchin' to pick a fight with you, then by all means go. I've been twice and had 2 fights picked with me, for no discernable reason. I can't think of a more revolting place to drink than this rich, white-trash Marin yuppie sh!thole of a bar.


On 2003-12-17 17:57, Tiki-bot wrote:
The good ol' Mallard doesn't need any more press...pleeease! You can't even go near the place on a Friday or Saturday night. Afternoon's a different story :wink:

I avoid it on those nights as well. I like it after work up until about 9 or on weekend afternoons.

I thought the list was OK, but some of the places picked don't have much character left despite their age (Philosopher's Club, Baggy's, Smitty's), while other bars that are historic and filled with character didn't make the list. How about the recently reopened House of Sheilds, or the bar at Original Joe's in the Tenderloin, or the Owl Tree, or even the Albatross?

I WAS pleased they mentioned SF's legendary "Embers" (how lucky was I to have gone there a few times before they closed! my pal Paul even has a couple of their barstools). It was the creepy clown bar to end all creepy clown bars, the owner was a genuine, crusty-as-hell WWII vet, the juke (done by the aforementioned Paul) featured an incredible selection of vintage 45s, and the clientele was actually INTERESTING.

Not to mention, there was that black and white TV playing old movies...

I still miss it.

But I was surprised the "Ivy Room" (aka Divey Room)and its amazingly cool juke merited no word at all in that article, and there wasn't even an amused mention of the best bar NAME of all..."The Hotsy-Totsy Club"!!!(well I think there wasn't...)

Plus, they also completely omitted Oakland's "Fifth Amendment" and its excellent live music scene. Hmph.

I perversely miss some of the East Bay's most cheerfully depressing nitespots, many of which have died in recent years...like Oakland's "Bird Kage", a 60's-era lounge run by an old-time football hero. Bathroom doors read "Hawks" and "Chicks" I believe. And there was some great aquarium action, I believe...not to mention 60's funk and soul on the juke. What is that pickup song about the astrological signs...argh, can't remember.

And does anyone recall the original "Manhattan Club" on Grand, now the obnoxious "Lucky Lounge"? It was a little scary, but if you went in on a weekday afternoon and made nice, there were some very cool bartenders there. And who could forget the FABULOUS hot pink leatherette stools, the mirrors, the glittering chrome everywhere? Dang. Worthy of Superfly.

I am happy that Vallejo has at least two great dive bars, (yeah I know, I've plugged 'em before) the 30s era "Valano Club" and the '53 vintage "Golden Bubble". Both well worth a field trip, folks. Enjoy 'em before the frigging developers take 'em down!!!

I know this is an older thread, but I've been out of the loop for a while and just wanted to share some memories...

XOX Tikivixen

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