Thad Vogler

Mixologist

San Francisco

As both the owner of San Francisco’s Bar Agricole and a recognized spirits authority, Thad Vogler has taken his Ivy League education and thirst for travel to revolutionize the connection between mixology and agriculture. The Northern California native designed, opened and managed bars at several highly acclaimed Bay Area venues, including Camino and The Slanted Door. Extensive travel through Cuba and Paris influenced him to become interested in farmstead rum production, especially in the Caribbean, where rum is distilled directly from sugar cane. Vogler opened Bar Agricole in 2010, and his farm-based spirit program earned him a 2012 James Beard nomination for the first Outstanding Bar Program category.

  • On December 17, 2012
    Hayley Bosch is now following Thad Vogler
  • On December 17, 2012
    Tom Flournoy is now following Thad Vogler
  • On October 31, 2012
    Thad Vogler answered the question: Thad Vogler

    What are Thad Vogler’s favorite hotels in San Francisco?

    I stay in hotels in San Francisco all the time. I love staycations. The big, great old hotels are The Fairmont [San Francisco], [InterContinental] Mark Hopkins and The Huntington Hotel — they’re three in the very top of California. There’s a bar in The Huntington called the Big 4, which is a beautiful old bar.
     
    The Palace [Hotel] downtown is another one. Old San Francisco hotels have big rooms, unlike old New York hotels. The Fairmont has huge ceilings, just a big railroad tycoon-type hotel.
  • On October 31, 2012
    Thad Vogler answered the question: Thad Vogler

    What are Thad Vogler’s favorite restaurants in San Francisco?

    I like ethnic restaurants. Asian food in San Francisco is where it’s at — Korean food, Chinese food, you name it. There’s a place in Oakland called Casserole House, a Korean place that’s just awesome. There’s another place called My Tofu House. Within walking distance from my house is a place called Z and Y. The chef is Chinese-American, born in Chinatown, and it’s totally amazing. They have tea-smoked duck, and it’s so awesome. Other places that are really good are Dumpling King, and R & G Lounge.
     
    Everything is very Mediterranean in San Francisco, so all of the destination restaurants, including my own, are very Italian-influenced. Quince by Michael Tusk has awesome, really traditional Northern Italian food. His other place, Cotogna, is awesome. One of my investors is Italian, and he says the best Italian cooks are not Italian. Italians are all bored with Italian food, but Americans who are obsessed with Italian food and have cooked in Italy are awesome.
     
    Camino is really my favorite restaurant in the world. He cooks everything over an open fire. Camino means “hearth” in Italian. He’s about 50, and he’s been cooking on the line, six days a week, for more than 20 years. You don’t go to a place like that where a chef of that experience is on the line. You see him in the kitchen, literally working a station. It’s just such a beautiful restaurant, and everything is done over an open fire. There’s always joints of meat hanging and it’s just awesome. It’s really everything the Bay Area is about, in terms of that obsessive sourcing and really finding the best stuff out there. It’s one of those places that’s so simple and unpretentious and people end up thinking it’s the most pretentious place in the world. We’re really good at that in San Francisco.
     
    In San Francisco, you eat Mexican food three to four times a week. Everyone has favorite tacos. La Taqueria is the place that I would recommend to people visiting. It’s on Mission Street at 25th.
  • On October 31, 2012
    Thad Vogler answered the question: Thad Vogler

    What are Thad Vogler’s favorite nightlife spots in San Francisco?

    My favorite bar in San Francisco is Tosca Cafe — it’s this old opera bar. It’s just atmospherically really pretty and old. It’s in North Beach, the old Italian neighborhood, which is largely pretty cheesy but this is just a really old gem. It has the longest wood bar from a single piece of wood. They have the Italian espresso makers, and they play only opera on the jukebox. There’s another place in that neighborhood called Caffe Trieste that’s really great. Those are places I’ve been going for 20 years that haven’t really changed.
  • On October 31, 2012
    Thad Vogler answered the question: Thad Vogler

    What are Thad Vogler’s favorite brunch spots in San Francisco?

    It’s in Oakland, but Camino [Restaurant] is awesome for brunch. There’s a little place called Bar Jules, a really cute neighborhood place that I go almost every week. My place [Bar Agricole] is great for brunch, honestly. I ate there yesterday. I go to brunch probably three times a month, at least. I sleep until noon and go and eat.
     
    Another thing I do on Sundays is go get dim sum at Yank Sing, which is this massive place — some people might say it’s not the best dim sum there is — but it’s dim sum and it’s really fun.
  • On October 31, 2012
    Thad Vogler answered the question: Thad Vogler

    What is Thad Vogler’s favorite time to visit San Francisco?

    It totally doesn’t matter — you’re always going to be frustrated. It’s going to be 70 degrees at 1 p.m., and 40 degrees at 9 p.m., or vice versa. It’s never warm at night. The best time to come is February. There’s always this little hot flash in February. It’s really strange. If you come from a cold climate, February is usually pretty nice.
  • On October 31, 2012
    Thad Vogler answered the question: Thad Vogler

    What are Thad Vogler’s favorite things to do in San Francisco?

    I’m an open water swimmer. I’m a member of this old swimming club called The Dolphin Swimming Club, which is way at the end of the pier. I just love swimming in the ocean, so I do that. I’ve done what’s called a ‘polar bear.’ Over the span of every winter I swim 40 miles in water that’s less than 55 degrees. I’m not in great shape, but I just have a tolerance for the cold. You come out of the water and you just feel awesome for the rest of the day.
     
    I like the museums in San Francisco. I’m a member of most museums. I just like dropping in and doing a half-hour walk through. I also like to play chess on Market Street. There are several running chess teams. I’m not that good, but I do that a few times a month. You play for a buck, and it’s fun.
     
    I love walking in the city. When I travel, I just go to cities because I just love wandering around the city. That’s why I love Paris so much — it’s just endless. I walk around San Francisco all the time. I live downtown and I just walk — to get coffee, to the museum, as far as I can. On a day off, it’s my favorite thing to do, to just wander.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Thad Vogler answered the question: Thad Vogler

    How would Thad Vogler describe Bar Agricole?

    It means “agricultural bar,” named for agricole rums, which are rums of the French Caribbean. It’s the one only agriculturally stipulated spirit, I think. The place is very much a reflection of eating and drinking in San Francisco. It’s really simple food ingredients, and obviously cocktails too. We do equal parts food and bar. It’s a destination bar as much as it is a place to eat. It has been getting a lot of attention. It’s a West Coast outpost for a certain kind of cocktail bar.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Thad Vogler answered the question: Thad Vogler

    How would Thad Vogler describe Bar Agricole?

    It means “agricultural bar,” named for agricole rums, which are rums of the French Caribbean. It’s the one only agriculturally stipulated spirit, I think. The place is very much a reflection of eating and drinking in San Francisco. It’s really simple food ingredients, and obviously cocktails too. We do equal parts food and bar. It’s a destination bar as much as it is a place to eat. It has been getting a lot of attention. It’s a West Coast outpost for a certain kind of cocktail bar.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Thad Vogler answered the question: Thad Vogler

    How would Thad Vogler describe Bar Agricole?

    It means “agricultural bar,” named for agricole rums, which are rums of the French Caribbean. It’s the one only agriculturally stipulated spirit, I think. The place is very much a reflection of eating and drinking in San Francisco. It’s really simple food ingredients, and obviously cocktails too. We do equal parts food and bar. It’s a destination bar as much as it is a place to eat. It has been getting a lot of attention. It’s a West Coast outpost for a certain kind of cocktail bar.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Thad Vogler answered the question: Thad Vogler

    What does Thad Vogler bring home from his travels?

    I blow a lot of money on food. I bring back spirits, and I always buy cigars when I’m in Cuba obviously, but also when I’m in duty-free. I always come back with Cuban rum or cigars. We always have Cuban rum at Bar Agricole — it’s this sort of concentrated version of Chartreuse before it’s diluted and sweetened. It has the most concentrated and intense flavor that I’ve ever encountered. I usually grab some Pineau des Charentes, which you don’t see here often. Last time I was there, I grabbed some blanched Armagnac, which is Armagnac that’s not aged, so it’s like a clear Armagnac. Pisco is a great clear brandy also, which I use for drinks.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Thad Vogler answered the question: Thad Vogler

    Who is Thad Vogler’s favorite person to travel with?

    My wife. We met while living abroad, so we’re kind of most comfortable and happy when we’re living out of the country. My last attempt to get out of the restaurant business was when I did a year of volunteer work in Guatemala. That’s where we met. I also love traveling alone. You get to think finally.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Thad Vogler answered the question: Thad Vogler

    Who is Thad Vogler’s favorite person to travel with?

    My wife. We met while living abroad, so we’re kind of most comfortable and happy when we’re living out of the country. My last attempt to get out of the restaurant business was when I did a year of volunteer work in Guatemala. That’s where we met. I also love traveling alone. You get to think finally.
  • On October 30, 2012
    Thad Vogler answered the question: Thad Vogler

    What are Thad Vogler’s favorite restaurants?

    The place I always go in Paris is just a lunch counter called Chez Jeannette. You get a ham sandwich and a coffee, and it has 30-foot ceilings in a 200-year-old interior. It’s where workmen go for their coffee and cigarettes or their ham sandwich. It’s a working-class type of place. I think it’s in the 10th Arrondissement. You can’t go to Paris without finding your own equivalent of that place. Americans are so obsessed with “the best.” What I love about Paris is that it’s all good, and you’re kind of free.