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Tenderloin Cocktail Culture

As San Francisco’s roaring vice district, the Tenderloin of the early 20th century figures greatly into the development of cocktail culture. Many of the bars, restaurants, and hotels represented in The Match Book: Tenderloin Historical Ephemera Project played a role in San Francisco cocktail history. Join us for a survey of the neighborhood's historic bar culture and recipes from the innovators who shaped the modern cocktail landscape through a historical discussion, guided tasting, and hands-on class led by Shana Farrell, author of Bay Area Cocktails: A History of Culture, Community and Craft. In collaboration with the California Historical Society.

This event is part of The Tenderloin Match Book: Historical Ephemera Project a multi-faceted project that also encompasses the publication of The Match Book: Vintage Matchbooks from San Francisco’s Tenderloin, an artfully designed history book of the Tenderloin featuring the matchbooks of local businesses and cultural institutions; the Tenderloin Ephemera Exhibition, featuring historical Tenderloin ephemera from the 1920’s-1950’s, including bar signs, glassware, postcards, menus, matchbooks et al.; the first addition to the Tenderloin Museum’s permanent exhibit, The Matchbook Map Exhibit, featuring a searchable, interactive touchscreen map that connects matchbook imagery to historical info on the associated business and address. 

Through the everyday act of picking up a matchbook and striking a match, one is transported to another place and time; the past is remembered through a pedestrian interaction with a tangible object. Matchbooks are emblems of local culture: accessible, utilitarian ephemera that functioned as the chosen form of advertising for small businesses in an era before plastic lighters and health concerns about smoking. These ritual objects exist at a fascinating intersection of material culture, local history, and design art; matchbooks (and other local business ephemera) are striking populist artifacts that serve as portals to places and people in a neighborhood’s past. The Match Book: Tenderloin Historical Ephemera Project presents an illuminating new perspective on the Tenderloin’s often overlooked history, enriches the detail and depth of the neighborhood’s narrative, and ignites the Tenderloin community’s historical imagination.

Doors at 6:30pm, Program 7pm