March 24, 2015


Happy Hour in San Francisco | Match Made in Heaven

By Emma Krasov, photography by Yuri Krasov


It’s been ten years since John Guiffre and Colin O’Malley opened their cleverly named joint John Colins, now in the bustling art-meets-business SoMa district of San Francisco.
Anyone familiar with the city’s foodie paradise would tell you that a decade in the restaurant industry here is like a century in any other enterprise “only the strongest and the most relevant survive¦

“We want to raise our glass to toast our staff and customers for their loyalty and support over the years,” said O’Malley on the occasion. In the past decade, we’ve seen so many changes in the bar scene; our bartenders have always been able to access the trends while providing a friendly vibe that really resonates with our guests. It’s a magical synergy that we are very proud to be a part of.

For its remarkable anniversary, this happy hour mainstay unveiled a new cocktail menu with a tropical theme, and added a cozy sushi mezzanine Takoba that sits 20, with chef Mark Hayashida (previously Ritz-Carlton Los Angeles, Blowfish San Jose, Skool San Francisco) at the helm, and his female counterpart Kasey Howard (formerly Yoshi’s San Francisco) serving up made to order nightly specials.

The downstairs bar’s revamped with an oversized screen projecting tropical islands views and a busy dance floor with DJ music Thursday through Saturday serve as a festive backdrop for creative cocktails prepared with a lightning speed behind the solid wood bar. Above it, a surfboard with a depiction of a legendary sea monster “ the giant squid Kraken“ actually refers to a logo for black spiced rum.

New Manhattan Beach (Mt. Gay Rum, carpano antica vermouth, tiki bitters and ginger topped with a dark cherry and orange zest), Hi-Tai with hibiscus syrup, Dirty Sailor (Sailor Jerry Rum, fresh lime, agave, peach bitters and cracked pepper), John Colins’s  namesake “Bourbon Sour with fresh orange, lemon and honey, and other classic and/or reimagined cocktails are served during happy hour each day of the workweek, and can be ordered to be delivered upstairs to Takoba for a wonderful sushi pairing.

The chef’s selection of nigiri and sashimi usually includes maguro, sake, hamachi, hirame, shiro maguro, kani, walu, uni, inari, ankimo, and saba (house-cured) alongside a variety of delectable, bursting with freshness rolls, like John Colin’s (tequila-cured salmon, spicy tuna, crab, lemon, spicy aioli) and Takoba (spicy tuna, kyuri, topped with maguro, salmon, habanero basil aioli).

In ten years’ time, Giuffre and O’Malley, owners and lead bartenders at John Colins, by investing their own labor and using the artistic talents of their staff (look at the upstairs ceiling squid painting, for example) created a truly San Franciscan unique establishment, popular with the locals and well-worth visiting by out-of-towners.

John Colins is located at 138 Minna Street at New Montgomery. Open Monday – Thursday from 5 p.m. to 2 a.m., Fridays from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. and Saturdays from 9 p.m. to 2 a.m. Special Xtra serving Cento Coffee is open 7:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. Monday – Friday. More details at