Three for the Money

Cocktails that drink like a three-course meal

Bourbon & Branch is less a bar and more an ever-expanding series of watering holes that happen to share the same address.

The latest addition is The Wilson, a small room with film noir-inspired decor: A decoy sign painted on the front window advertises it as home to the Wilson & Wilson Private Detective agency.

With only 28 seats, available by reservation only, and a staff-to-drinker ratio that rivals that of teachers to kids in many San Francisco preschools, there's plenty of time for chatting with bartenders about their creations.

The cocktail menu is divided into three sections: vermouth-heavy aperitifs, boozier "mains," and dark, amaro-laden digestifs (all $12). You can also opt for a three-course liquid meal, and choose a cocktail from each category (a relative steal at $30).

The bar is loaded with housemade ingredients that make their way into the drinks, like strawberry-infused pisco, licorice-root tincture and sarsaparilla-infused bitters. They're often used in combination, as in the Charlie Chan: black tea-infused Karlsson's vodka, lemon juice, ginger syrup, coconut marmalade, and black pepper and clove tinctures.

Given that the bartenders here are mixing culinary-inspired cocktails and serving them with the care of a fine-dining restaurant staff, it's a wonder–and a shame–The Wilson doesn't offer food.

The Wilson, 505 Jones St.(enter at 501 Jones St.); thewilsonbar.com