New Dinner Theater Production Captures the Spirit of San Francisco’s Barbary Coast Era

Photo Courtesy of Shoot That Klown

Photo Courtesy of Shoot That Klown

The Barbary Coast era in San Francisco is an important part of the city’s past. The louche atmosphere of 1980’s San Francisco helped set the tone for San Francisco’s future as a haven of free love and destination for those wishing to escape the Puritan standard of life common elsewhere around the United States.

Vau de Vire Society, an avant-cabaret theatrical community, reaches into the depths of Barbary Coast history with its newest production, The Soiled Dove. Slang that referred to the courtesans of the time, The Soiled Dove is sure to set new standards for circus theater. Show patrons will be treated to an immersive dinner theater experience that will captive all five senses. The atmosphere will be festive, the Doves will be gorgeously costumed, and performances are sure to be provocative.

The Soiled Dove guests will be asked to interact with performers, the better to experience the revelry of the times. Presentations from food hawkers and delights scooped from rustic California gold pans are part of the performance.

And, in keeping with the Soiled Dove theme, elements of seduction are found in the food and drink selections. Jacqueline Burns, founder and owner of Work of Art Catering that designed the cocktail and dinner menus, researched the ingredient availability and commercial food trade practices of the era. A starter of Dungeness crab fritter is “an ode to local seafood that was available during the Barbary Coast era,” she says. An all-white salad, composed of shaved fennel, chicories, granny smith apple, rice noodle, shaved almonds, and verjus harkens back to the Doves’ former purity and will be served by hawkers in Chinese to-go boxes. Dessert selections, Burns continued, such as whiskey toffee bouchons, Lemon Profiteroles, Coffee Brew Profiterole “were luxuries afforded to the newly rich.” (See the full menu below.)

Cocktails, paired with each course, are in keeping with the times. Drink selections, such as the rum and gin tipple Shanghai Kelly, “was popular in the 1800’s” says Burns.

Live musical accompaniment by the Jazz Mafia and Realistic Orchestra complete the theater-going experience.

The event is 21 and over only with a full bar. Vegetarian options are available – please request in advance. Period attire or your most stylish San Francisco coutoure is encouraged.
The Soiled Dove runs for six nights only, December 4, 5, 6 and 11, 12 13.

For tickets and information, go to

A portion of the proceeds will benefit Zaccho Dance Theatre’s Youth Performing Arts Program (YPAP), a program that guides youth in exploring their collective and individual potential through performance training, improvisation, personal research, and contemporary and aerial dance.

Food and Cocktail Pairing Menus


Dungeness Crab Fritter
gypsy pepper remoulade
White Dove Crisp Salad
shaved fennel, chicories, granny smith apple, rice noodle, shaved almonds, verjus


Johnny Cakes
warm corn and molasses muffins with whipped butter
Wild Bison Short Ribs
braised with maple, jalapeno, rosemary and coffee
Mustard Encrusted New Potatoes with Parsley Roasted Corn Wheels
Charred Asparagus


Apple Brown Butter Torte, Whiskey Toffee Bouchons, Lemon Profiteroles, Coffee Brew Profiterole, Triple Ginger Molasses Cookies, Grapes & Figs

* * * * * *


First Course: “The Barbary Coast”
Main Course: “The Shanghai Kelly”
Dessert: “The Soiled Dove”

The Barbary Coast

1.5 oz Bourbon
1.5 oz Sweet Vermouth
A dash of Bitters
Champagne – Float on top
Garnished with an orange twist

This a basic Manhattan using equal parts of bourbon to vermouth served on the rock in an old fashion glass, then float champagne over the top.

The Shanghai Kelly

1/2 oz Scotch whisky**
1/2 oz gin
1/2 oz rum
1/2 oz white creme de cacao
1/2 oz light cream

Shake all ingredients with ice, strain into a cocktail glass, and serve.

**NOTE: It is recommended to use a Scotch with a more subtle character like those from the Lowland or Highland regions. Any of the heavy peated Scotches will be too much of a contrast to the gin in

The Soiled Dove

3.5 oz Old Tom Gin (a sweetened Gin)**
1.75 oz Sweet Vermouth
4 dashes of orange bitters
1.0 oz of maraschino liqueur (Luxardo)

Garnish with an orange twist. Shake drink to mix and serve up.

**NOTE: If using any other Gin, add a splash St. Germain

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