Food & Drink

Inside the San Francisco Champagne Society

Grant Marek/Thrillist

You’ve probably walked past this totally ordinary, totally average, totally normal-looking SOMA apartment building a dozen times and never thought twice about it. Or even, um, once about it. But what if we told you that inside was a hidden club dedicated to the world’s most sparkly-est beverage?

Because, turns out, there totally is.

Grant Marek/Thrillist

To get in, you have to know a door code and get buzzed in by the owner. But once you’ve navigated those obstacles (which are obviously at least as challenging as the laser-eyed sphinx gate in The NeverEnding Story, if not more), you’ll become a card-carrying member* of the mythical San Francisco Champagne Society.

The SFCS is basically the private-ish collection of a man named Bill Marci, who runs his fully licensed business from a SOMA loft where he walks members through tastings of hard-to-find bottles that he’s discovered through many trips to Champagne, France and the surrounding regions.

It all sounds super fancy and exclusive, but truth be told, it’s actually not that hard to get in if you know exactly what to do, that being send an email to make a reservation. In the email, you tell Marci a bit about what kind of experience you’re planning -- he can accommodate as few as two people (DATE NIGHT!) and as many as 25 -- and how much you want to spend. The range is usually about $60-$100 per person, but that includes three glasses of honest-to-God Champagne and all the Champagne education (Champeducation?) you can handle.

Once you’ve secured your reservation, you’ll get instructions to the SOMA loft, which is appointed with leather couches and a private theater room. Marci will be at the bar next to the high-ceilinged lounge (oh right, there’s a bar inside) where he’ll walk you through the bottles he has on hand, one by one, and let you get your charming-ass mingle on with the rest of the Society in between pours.

Oh, and three drinks is the official line, buuut if you’re nice, Marci might top off the bottle or be coaxed into opening another one. He can also throw in some fun glassware experiments (glass size matters, it turns out), or pre-order cheese and charcuterie platters if you want to go full-on pinkies up, which, why the hell wouldn’t you? This is the freaking San Francisco Champagne Society, go big dude.

(*Okay, so there are no membership cards, per se, but if you wanted to mock up your own we wouldn’t judge you... too hard.)

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Anna Roth is a San Francisco freelance writer and, thus, unfortunately drinks more of the Champagne of Beers than actual Champagne. Commiserate on Twitter at @annaroth.