Allison Webber

Wit and whimsy combine to make the current beverage menu at Trick Dog one of the most creative.

How Trick Dog Created One of the Country's Most Creative Cocktail Lists

A San Francisco bar mixes children’s lit and libations.

Nursery rhymes and cocktails may not be an intuitive pairing, but a bit of childhood whimsy is the trick de jour at one bar in San Francisco’s Mission District. Trick Dog, which changes its beverage menu twice a year, has teamed up with satirical website and non-profit publishing company McSweeney’s for its latest collection of cocktails. 

The catch? Each item must rhyme with Trick Dog, leading to such creations as the Dramatic Pollywog, a blend of Bombay dry gin, Krogstad aquavit, Cointreau, carrot orgeat, and lime; the Lunatic Bog, combining rye, Cynar, sherry, milk chocolate, and green peppercorn; and the Last-Picked Demagogue, composed of mezcal, charanda, ginger liqueur, coconut, and grilled peach.

The playfulness extends to the physical menu, which is printed as a children’s book, titled Rhymes with Trick Dog. Each of the dozen cocktails has its own page with a list of the ingredients, an illustration, and accompanying rhyme. And it’s no haphazard endeavor: The team tapped artists Ferris Plock and Kelly Tunstall for the illustrations and writer Daniel Levin Becker for the verses.

Trick Dog also created a short video starring Morgan Schick, mixologist and creative director of Trick Dog and its parent company, Bon Vivants. In the grainy-retro film, Schick enters the bar in a business suit, dons a sweater that could’ve come right out of Fred Rogers’ closet, and reads a poem from Rhymes with Trick Dog.

Bon Vivants raises the bar quite high for its semi-annual assortment of libations—perhaps because the company bills itself as a marketing, hospitality, and design firm rather than an outright restaurant group. Each new beverage cycle works around a central theme, with past examples like zodiac signs, Pantone colors, and record albums.

The latest menu kicked off July 7 and will run six months. In the meantime, guests (or fans afar) can purchase the children’s book/menu at Trick Dog or online for $35. All proceeds go to McSweeney’s and SOMArts, a culture and arts center located in the heart of San Francisco.

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