As bon vivants who rub elbows with some of Silicon Valley’s most exciting arms, Mr. Harada and I are all too familiar with the bespoke lifestyle. So, while I wait on delivery of my custom Lamborghini Centenario (with full Levi’s denim interior and a Monster Energy fridge in the trunk), my Schwinn Varsity, complete with a 49cc two-stroke motor, will have to do as Mr. Harada and I do our thing.
Blue smoke billowed up old Monterey Highway as I made my way downtown and imagined the delights that awaited us at Haberdasher. Thoughts of a 19th Century gentlemen’s club, complete with plush leather chairs and shelves filled with leather bound volumes detailing gentlemanly occupations, ran through my gently used, bicycle-helmet protected brain. The rhythmic flapping of my denim tie pounded the wind like a infantry snare drum.
Mr. Harada arrived in style as well: he walked.
Haberdasher is located in the SoFA District’s Agenda building basement, and from my vast tank of knowledge I believe it’s one of only a few legal underground drinking establishments in San Jose. This lends itself to appropriately classy marketing taglines such as “come on down,” or “the real underground,” or “six feet under and three sheets to the wind.”
A worthwhile place to imbibe, Haberdasher is a theme bar on par with Disneyland. It’s fun, and interesting, but like all fictions, it requires a buy-in from the clientele and a suspension of disbelief. The drinks are good, crafted with precision, and the staff is professional and committed. The bowler hat light fixtures are a comical touch and the interior is a basic affair, simply sectioned off to efficiently usher parties in and out.
A dinner theatre spirit pervades the place, which is a great thing when everyone participates. When visiting, spend time getting ready like the staff. It only took two guys with backpacks and flip-flops to shatter the experience for Mr. Harada and I. After that, no amount of cocktail artistry could repair the illusion.
The drink selection is excellent and the consistency is strong, and the pricing is fair when considering the effort. In a way, Haberdasher is an example of the spirit of Silicon Valley: at the core of the work, it’s very good, but what makes it exceptional is when everyone is committed to pretending the same thing at the same time.
43 W San Salvador St, San Jose.