If good things come in threes, the number seven is even better. That’s how many restaurants and bars have opened or are about to open in Sebastopol’s increasingly interesting food and drink scene.
Mother’s Ruin opened last month in the space formerly occupied by the Lucky Star bar. Mother’s Ruin is a bar, too, that specializes in gin—mother’s ruin. The term comes from England’s late 1700s, when gin consumption was rampant thanks to tax-free booze and a depressed economy. Too much gin left men impotent and women infertile, i.e. ruined.
There’s a great mural on the wall of the bar featuring a reproduction of English artist William Hogarth’s Gin Lane from 1751. The print features a scene of gin-soaked depravity. At the center is a nursing mother who appears to be letting her child fall off her lap into a stairwell as she boozily reaches for a tin of snuff. Hogarth also produced Beer Street at the same time, which depicts a happy scene of upstanding beer drinkers. The images were created to be shown side-by-side as an early public service announcement—or as beer propaganda, depending on your view.
You can contemplate all that while sipping one of the bar’s excellent gin cocktails (try an Alley Cat). While the top-shelf gin shines here, the bar is exceedingly well stocked with other artisanal, premium spirits.
The space was thoroughly remodeled and feels more SOMA than Sebastopol with its high ceilings and spare, modern furnishings. If plans for a yet-to-be finalized restaurant next door materialize, patrons will be able to order food as they enjoy their ruination in high style.
Across the way at the Barlow, there are five developments in the works. Fern Bar, the latest endeavor from the Lowell’s and Handline clan, is taking shape and aiming for a late November opening. It will be a bar and lounge that features a small plates menu from Lowell’s chef Joe Zobel and nonalcoholic concoctions and decoctions from Gia Baiocchi, owner of the nearby Nectary. The two businesses will share a kitchen space that will also include a small brewery.
That means the Barlow will be home to four breweries once Santa Rosa’s Seismic Brewing Co. opens its taproom there. Seismic is pioneering brewing with water- and energy-saving technology. The company was founded by Christopher Jackson, scion of the Sonoma County winemaking family. He’s going it alone on his beer business.
What about cider? Sebastopol’s Golden State Cider is also planning to open a taproom by year’s end.
With all that booze, you need to eat something. Kosho has taken over the space that once housed Vignette. No word on when it will open, but chef Jake Rand, formerly of St. Helena’s Two Birds/One Stone, will offer a menu of modern and traditional Japanese food.
The Farmer’s Wife, beloved farmers market purveyor of gooey sandwiches, recently signed a lease for a space in the Barlow as well.
Looming in the background of the food and drink tsunami is the Hotel Sebastopol, an upscale hotel and restaurant project from the folks behind Healdsburg’s Hotel Healdsburg and h2hotel, Spoonbar and Pizzando that will be sure to raise the city’s profile. Construction is supposed to begin in “late 2018,” but so far there are only weeds on the lot now.
For good or ill, Sebastopol looks to be hurtling toward Healdsburgification, and the opening of the hotel may seal the deal.
What to Do in Sebastopol
Word Temple Poetry Series San Francisco native, acclaimed author and Sonoma County poet laureate emerita (2014–2016) Katherine Hastings regularly showcases the best North Bay and Northern California writers with her Word Temple publishing company, radio show and live reading events. This week, Hastings welcomes three prolific poets to share their work at the Word Temple Poetry Series, taking place at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts. Brenda Hillman has served on the faculty at Napa Valley College and currently teaches at St. Mary’s College in Moraga. Her latest poetry collection is titled Extra Hidden Life, Among the Days. Stephen Kessler was the editor of The Redwood Coast Review for over a decade. His most recent collection of poems is titled Garage Elegies. David Beckman is a poet and playwright whose works have been produced locally by 6th Street Playhouse, Shakespeare at the Cannery and Pegasus Theatre. Hear all three read on Saturday, Sept. 8, at 282 S. High St., Sebastopol. 7pm. Free. wordtemple.com.
Peacetown Sebastopol musician, producer and educator Jim Corbett proudly wears the mantle of Mr. Music when he organizes and hosts the annual summer concert series Peacetown in Sebastopol’s Ives Park. This summer’s lineup has been the biggest and best yet, and this month the series concludes with a grand finale featuring boot-stomping bluegrass band Poor Man’s Whiskey. Get in on the positive vibes when Peacetown closes out summer 2018 with Poor Man’s Whiskey on Wednesday, Sept. 12, at Ives Park, 7400 Willow St., Sebastopol. 5pm. Free; donations welcome. peacetown.org.
Tawai On the island of Borneo, there still exists a nomadic tribe of hunter-gatherers known as the Penan, who still rely on the forests for survival. In the Penan language, the word “tawai” refers to their connection to the land, which is explored in a new immersive documentary by British filmmaker Bruce Parry. Tawai: A Voice from the Forest chronicles the tribe’s experiences and explores the different ways that humans relate to nature. Praised as visually stunning and emotionally ethereal, Tawai screens in Sebastopol with Parry on hand to speak about his work as an indigenous rights activist and discuss several of the social and environmental issues brought up in the film. Tawai shows one time only on Sunday, Sept. 16, at Rialto Cinemas, 6868 McKinley St., Sebastopol. 7pm. 707.525.4840.
Maker Music Festival Chimera Arts Makerspace is Sonoma County’s hub for all things DIY, offering shop space, classes and equipment for the local community of artists, engineers and creatives of all types. This fall, the nonprofit space makes room for the Maker Music Festival, which will feature several DIY music and instrument makers from the area. Whether you craft traditional instruments or experiment with new melodic inventions, you’re invited to sign up to present your idea or product to the public—and a lineup of exhibits, lectures, demonstrations and performances are sure to spark new concepts on Oct. 13, at Chimera Arts facility, 6791 Sebastopol Ave., Ste. 180, Sebastopol. Sign up to show off your musical creation
now at chimeraarts.org/mmf.