Jeff Hollinger has been interested in food and drink for as long as he can remember. As a child, he was intrigued by his grandfather’s modest bar and would frequently engage in a game of 'bartender', quickly mastering the art of creating a delicious Shirley Temple over fresh crushed ice. After graduating from San Francisco State University, he enrolled in classes at the California Culinary Academy and found himself on a path that would enable him to pursue his life-long love affair with gourmet cuisine and drinks.
While at the Culinary Academy, Hollinger tended bar and worked in the kitchen of Gordon's House of Fine Eats. Thereafter, he joined the Absinthe Brasserie & Bar team in 2003 as a part-time bartender, where he enhanced Absinthe’s classically driven cocktail philosophy by introducing new concepts he had learned from Gordon's using seasonal ingredients and balancing flavors. In his continued pursuit to innovate cocktails he explored the history of cocktail "culture" and old cocktail books. He worked together with then-Bar Manager, Rob Schwartz, and experimented with both old and new ingredients, developing new cocktail recipes and resurrecting forgotten classics.
Truly inspired, Hollinger and Schwartz, with the support of Absinthe's owner Bill Russell-Shapiro, collaborated to create The Art of the Bar, a cocktail book published in November 2006 that illustrates Absinthe's cocktail philosophy and provides readers with recipes and techniques.
After a year of tending bar at Absinthe, Hollinger took over Schwartz' position as Bar Manager and was quickly promoted to Assistant General Manager. In June 2006, he was promoted again to the position of General Manager, overseeing all aspects of the restaurant while maintaining oversight of the beverage program. Working closely with Bar Manager Jonny Raglin, they further cultivated the program, and decided to begin the process of opening their own bar in 2009.
As Co-partner of Comstock Saloon with Jonny Raglin, Hollinger has been instrumental in every decision surrounding the opening – from the location, design and cuisine to hand selecting each spirit offered behind the bar. His relentless research of turn-of-the-century San Francisco and historic saloons is reflected in the classically-driven cocktail menu highlighting favorites such as the Negroni and Manhattan.
Hollinger is co-founder of San Francisco Cocktail Week – an annual week of events and festivities dedicated to celebrating the innovative cocktail culture thriving in San Francisco. He is also co-founder of the Barbary Coast Conservancy, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving, promoting and advancing the cultural heritage of saloons and their cocktails in the San Francisco Bay Area. He resides in San Francisco with his wife, Fabienne, and young daughter.
FOR MORE INFORMATION OR TO SET UP AN INTERVIEW, PLEASE CALL SARAH LOGAN AT WAGSTAFF WORLDWIDE AT 415.274.2510.