A few years ago, a cousin of a good friend of mine took us on a wild San Francisco night out. The night ended with a couple of tequila shots at a nautical bar in Soma that had a 2 foot tall phallus in the bathroom and a bright rainbow flag waving out front. Ever since then, the bar in question, Driftwood, has been one of my favorite destinations on a night out with a fun time always guaranteed! Owner Chris Milstead inherited the bar 7 years ago from the last owners but pulled from his love of surfing in NorCal to transform Driftwood into the marine themed laid back den it is today.
“We did all the construction in here ourselves - installed the plywood and created tables. The bar was here before but we made the bar back to look like the inside of the boat.” Chris explains.
As I look around, I’m surprised by all the aspects of Driftwood I don’t notice on crowded nights such as how spacious the floor is. “It’s a very versatile space - we have DJs, happy hours, sometimes bands before here. Hana and the Handsomes have performed almost monthly here for the last 6 years - they’re great, we’re close friends!” Chris explains.
As I walked around Driftwood talking to Chris, I couldn’t help but reminisce about all the memories created here and at other bars in the city. The pandemic has created an environment where bars and music venues are barely able to survive. To increase business, many bars have turned towards their community for support such as partnering with food sellers around them. Driftwood does just that: when you go across the street and buy a meal at Mac Attack, you can get a to-go drink at Driftwood. The bar is also a pick-up location for fresh and local Panizerra meats. Chris has also started a small liquor selling business from his bar. In a time where bars are lying empty, Chris has innovatively partnered with businesses around him to keep the institution that is Driftwood afloat.
Stop by this wonderful bar for a bottle of whiskey or a to-go drink to support the heart and soul that is the nightlife of SF!