MAX Stories

From the MAX Hill Gazette: Bourbon Tasting

MAX’s version of the Nob Hill Gazette

By Joel Barish
MAX Society Editor

They were agog with glee and gaiety as about 25 from MAX entered the lavish and opulent home of Steve Patterson on Saturday, February 29th, 2020, for the second annual bourbon tasting party.

Greeted by Steve and Joel (both in leather pants and chaps), the twenty-five MAX members were treated to wonderful and chilly rooftop deck views of the Golden Gate and Alcatraz, before retiring to the Patterson home for a delightful evening.

In addition to the five excellent bourbons, there were hors d'oeuvres, a magnificent Kentucky stew, and a traditional Appalachian dessert. This was all prepared by Bruce Cecil, with the assistance of Philip Carberry.

A fun quiz ensued, where the guests (among the finest in San Francisco...the A+ list) had the chance to rate what they were drinking, and most were able to differentiate the good bourbons from the best.

While their private drivers awaited their departure, there was levity and enjoyment by all attending. Little attention was paid to the huge and fabulous gems and Patek Philippe montres which adorned their carefully coiffured and designer created attires. It was simply a soiree of the city's finest, in a non-pretentious atmosphere of sophisticated human intercourse.

Special thanks to Steve Patterson for hosting and to Bruce Cecil and Phil Carberry for organizing this most fabulous leap-day social event!

MAX Happy Hour Social at PSAir in Palm Springs

On Friday, February 21st, 2020, MAX held its first Palm Springs mixer. MAX had exclusive use of the amazing restored USAir cabin at PSAir in Bouschet where the owners joined us and talked about this new bar.

20 guys attended and the evening included a raffle of movie tickets, champagne and a champagne basket.  Several guys were new to MAX or friends of members and others were guys who recently relocated from the Bay Area to enjoy the Palm Springs lifestyle.

There was an ample spread of "first class" charcuterie, cheeses and warm nuts to go along with the wines and cocktails that were served up by the friendly staff.

MAX Chairman Mike Barsul and Event Champion Lorenzo Taylor were on hand to award the prizes and to talk about MAX upcoming activities in Palm Springs and to promote involvement and membership.

Look for future MAX Happy Hour Socials in Palm Springs in the coming months!

Bachelors in Paradise “It’s Just Brunch” – Palm Springs

Just in time for 2020 Valentine’s Day, twenty-two "eligible bachelors" got together for a Sunday dating brunch in Palm Springs on February 9th. The group gathered in the Scrabble Room of Wilma & Freida (155 S Palm Canyon Dr).

Event Champion Lorenzo Taylor reserved the private Scrabble Room and designed the brunch so that guys could get to know at least three new people during their meal. The room was alive with laughter and cheer as guys of many different ages and backgrounds exchanged stories, glances, contact information, and dating strategies.  A few business cards got slipped in as well.

The food was great, and the restaurant staff allowed us to linger and move around after the meal was over.

While a few guys were disappointed that they didn't immediately find their "sweetheart," most guys made some new contacts and had an enjoyable meal with strangers made into friends.

It was a fun afternoon that will likely be repeated in the near future!

My Favorite Place: Chinese New Year’s Eve Banquet at Hong Kong Lounge

On the eve of the 2020 Chinese New Year, a group from MAX joined hosts Bruce Cecil and Jim Tom for a fabulous Chinese banquet at one of San Francisco’s most authentic Chinese restaurants, Hong Kong Lounge.

With twenty-one in our group, MAX filled two full banquet tables.

The group had a great time and enjoyed the feast that included BBQ platter, fresh crab meat with fish maw soup, honey walnut prawns, beef cube in Maggie sauce, Imperial Peking duck, ginger scallion lobster, pan fried sea bass, Tomago tofu, dessert, and more.

Many thanks to event hosts Jim Tom (in the pink shirt), and Bruce Cecil, seated to Tom’s right, for organizing a great event!

The evening was a great way to ring in the Year of the Rat.

My Favorite Place is our monthly dinner series.  Each month a MAX member selects one of their favorite restaurants to introduce to the MAX community.

January East Bay Second Sunday at the White Horse Inn

On Sunday, January 12th, 2020, a large group of 38 men joined us for MAX’s first East Bay Second Sunday at the legendary White Horse Inn in Oakland, CA.

For this initial East Bay Second Sunday, MAX provided some light snacks.

The group enjoyed a fun afternoon and had a good time!

MAX’s East Bay Second Sundays are held on the second Sunday of every month and provide a great chance to get know other men in the MAX community in a relaxed, friendly, and fun space.

A long time fixture in the East Bay scene, the ever-popular White Horse Inn is the oldest continuously running LGBTQ bar in the United States. Located in Oakland one block from the Berkeley border, the bar is easily accessible from BART and the neighborhood offers ample parking.

January MAX Friday Movie: Just Mercy

On January 10th, 2020, a group from MAX gathered for January’s MAX Friday Movie, Just Mercy, at the AMC Metreon.

The group met for drinks and appetizers at the nearby Amber India before heading over to the theatre.

The consensus was that the movie was moving very good and thought-provoking as it told the true story of a Harvard law school graduate who gave up a lucrative career to move to Alabama and combat racism by defending those wrongly condemned or not given proper representation.

It was a fun evening!

Palm Springs “Pink Elephant” Holiday Party

On Sunday, December 29th, 2019, MAX Chairman Mike Barsul and Event Champion Lorenzo Taylor hosted a group of 30 locals and out-of-town MAX guests for an elegant “Pink” cocktail party in the stunning Los Compadres neighborhood home of Robert McCormack. Below, Mike Barsul welcomes everyone.

Lorenzo put together an elegant spread of appetizers (shrimp, pigs in blankets, prosciutto) that was much appreciated and eagerly devoured by the guests. Before the desert course of Italian dessert cups, the guests played a fun and naughty gift exchange game.

While guests enjoyed their cocktails and tasted the appetizers, they were serenaded by live entertainment on a concert grand piano by former Oakland resident Randy Creighton.

Pink Elephant Party host Robert McCormack (below on right) is pictured celebrating with Kevin Anderson and Randy Ide, MAX members visiting from the Bay Area.

The group had a great time and there was plenty of food and drink left over.

Many thanks to Robert McCormack for offering his beautiful home for this event, to Randy Creighton for providing the live entertainment, to volunteer-extraordinaire Lyndon Mosse (pictured on the right below), and to MAX Chairman Mike Barsul and Event Champion Lorenzo Taylor for organizing this Palm Springs holiday party!

If you have a second home in Palm Springs or travel there regularly, keep an eye out for further MAX events as MAX continues to establish a presence in Palm Springs!

My Favorite Place: The Blind Butcher

For December’s My Favorite Place, seven from MAX joined host Paul Munro at The Blind Butcher on December 17th, 2019.

With a casual and comfortable vibe, The Blind Butcher's globally-inspired New American menu features hand cut prime steaks, bountiful seafood, and local organic produce. The wait staff are very accommodating, and the menu includes vegan and vegetarian options.

A number of attendees expressed their appreciation for being introduced to The Blind Butcher.

My Favorite Place is MAX’s monthly dinner series.  Each month, a MAX member selects one of their favorite restaurants to introduce to the MAX community.

The Blind Butcher
4058 18th street, near Castro St
San Francisco, CA

November 2019 Third Thursday

Our Third Thursday at Beaux Bar on November 21st, 2019 was another fun evening with a great group of guys.

Each "Third Thursday" of the month, MAX SF meets at Beaux Bar from 5:30pm to 8 pm for food, conversation, and spectacular performances at the nearby piano!

Superb cocktails at happy hour prices! Appetizers provided.

One member of our group sang Karaoke!

MAX SF’s Third Thursday are held every third Thursday of the month.

Beaux Bar
2344 Market Street, San Francisco, CA.

Soirée on the Bay II: Celebrity Cruises Benefit Party for REAF

On Wednesday, November 13th, 2019, MAX joined our community partner REAF, the Richmond/Ermet Aid Foundation, for the second year in a row for a benefit party on a Celebrity Cruise Ship docked overnight in San Francisco.

This year, the benefit party was held onboard Celebrity Cruises’ mega-cruise ship Celebrity Eclipse.

The evening started with a champagne reception and appetizers in the Solarium before moving to the Club level.

At the Club level, the view of the SF Skyline from the Sky Observation Lounge was stunning.

In the Sky Observation Lounge, we were treated to fabulous live entertainment including a performance by Franc D’Ambrosio, star of Phantom of the Opera. We also witnessed the presentation of a recognition award to Okan Sengun from the LGBT Asylum Project for all the work he has done to co-found that organization and to help so many people gain legal asylum.

Many thanks to Celebrity Cruises which fully underwrote this benefit party for REAF, including the fully hosted bars at each venue.

REAF was founded 25 years ago to raise funds for HIV/AIDS services through production of quality entertainment events. REAF has since expanded to include raising funds for programs addressing hunger, the homeless, and the underserved youth in the Bay Area.

Attendees from MAX had a great time and are hoping for a Soirée on the Bay III in 2021!

My Favorite Place: Poesia Osteria Italiana

For November’s My Favorite Place, sixteen men from MAX joined hosts Jerry Tusan and Jason Feinberg at Poesia Osteria Italiana on November 6th, 2019.

Poesia features authentic southern Italian cuisine coming from the owner's home in Calabria.  All pastas are hand-made each day and sauces are gently simmered for hour.  The bar features hand-crafted cocktails combining local fruits and innovative liquors.

For MAX’s November My Favorite Place dinner, Chef/Owner Francesco designed a very generous prix fixe dinner including dinner, dessert, and choice of red and white Italian wines.

My Favorite Place is MAX’s monthly dinner series.  Each month, a MAX member selects one of their favorite restaurants to introduce to the MAX community.

This dinner proved to be very popular! It sold out space for fourteen and Francesco was able to accommodate an additional four from the waitlist.

The group had a great time. The authentic Italian cooking was fabulous, and it was an enjoyable evening spent with other men from MAX.

Poesia Osteria Italiana
4072 18th street, near Castro St (Located Upstairs)
San Francisco, CA.

Palm Springs Gay Pride Getaway, Plus Halloween and Priscilla

On Halloween 2019, a group from MAX checked into a spacious six bedroom house for the MAX Palm Springs Gay Pride/Halloween Getaway and immediately went to the Arenas Gay District for a gathering of 10,000 people watching a parade of over 50 contestants in the most outrageous and elaborate costumes. After the contest, disco diva Evelyn Champagne King performed live and the bars were overflowing with festive costumed revelers.

The following day the group spent five hours hiking and driving through Joshua Tree National Park.

That evening MAX Chairman Mike Barsul and Member Chair Scott Tsui hosted a cocktail party at Mike's home for about 30 guys, San Francisco MAXers in town for the weekend along with a lot of CMG (California Men’s Gatherings) local members.

After the party, the group had dinner at Billy Reed's Restaurant and some broke off to dance to music by DJ Chi Chi Larue at Toucans.

On Saturday, two group members participated in the Pride 5K Run and MAX member Robby Scalise won a third place medal.  That earned him and everyone a generous buffet brunch at the local casino, where CMG local members get together monthly.

In the afternoon they checked out the booths at the Gay Pride festival which stretched over 20 blocks of downtown streets.

After a refreshing dip in the pool in the afternoon, they had pre-theater dinner at the 849 Restaurant and saw the hilarious community theater performance of Priscilla Queen of the Desert.

The group was up early on Sunday morning to get a prime spot for viewing the three hour Pride parade with over 250 colorful entries.  The group was impressed by the community feel of the parade which included several local high school marching bands and a large contingent of high school gay/straight alliance groups along with a brigade of grandmas twirling pom poms.  After a delicious brunch, the group went back to the street fair, where there was more entertainment and eye candy from all over.

Although the group was small, due to some last minute cancellations, everyone had a fun getaway and agreed that they want to come back to Palm Springs for Pride/Halloween weekend.

Thanks to MAX travel champion Lorenzo Taylor for organizing!

MAX Booth at the 2019 Castro Street Fair

This year, MAX was at the Castro Street Fair on Sunday October 6th, 2019, with a booth at a prime Castro St and 18th St location!

The weather was perfect with a clear day and warm fall temperatures which brought out a large and festive crowd.

This year’s Castro Street Fair was a great opportunity to spread the word about the many fun MAX SF activities and the many benefits of MAX SF membership. Nearly 100 guys signed-up to receive the MAX SF newsletter and five signed-up as new dues-paying members.

Seven of the ten MAX SF Board members (left to right): Jason Feinberg, Scott Tsui, Mike Barsul, Jerry Tusan, Paul Munro, Jim Cady, Bruce Cecil.

A drawing was held for prizes for each of three categories of visitors to the MAX SF booth:

  • Among those who signed-up at the booth to receive the MAX SF newsletter, the winner received a $100 Apple gift card.
  • The winner from those who signed-up and paid for a dues-paying membership received a bottle of 2008 Dom Perignon.
  • The winner among existing dues-paying members who visited the MAX booth received a bottle of 2008 Château Troplong Mondot St. Emilion Bordeaux (96 Robert Parker).

Many thanks to MAX Board Members Jim Cady and Scott Tsui for making the MAX SF booth happen at this year’s Castro Street Fair.

Special thanks as well to the MAX Board Member who donated the fabulous prizes and to the MAX Member whose designated contribution underwrote the cost of this year’s MAX booth.

Inaugural Chairman’s First Friday at Beaux

On Friday October 4th, 2019, MAX moved our monthly First Friday to Beaux Bar, conveniently located in the Castro neighborhood.

MAX Chairman Mike Barsul took over as event champion and we rebranded this monthly get-together as Chairman’s First Friday.

Many thanks to Jason Feinberg for championing First Fridays for the last two years!

Over the course of the evening, well over 80 men from MAX gathered at Beaux Bar for this inaugural Chairman’s First Friday.

The group enjoyed the chance to catch-up, meet new friends, and unwind after the week. They also enjoyed the more modest drink prices including Happy Hour 2-for-1 cocktails and $2 well drinks!

Join MAX SF for Chairman’s First Friday from 6pm to 8:30 pm at Beaux Bar (2344 Market St, San Francisco) on the first Friday of every month.

For MAX events that feature alcohol, we strongly encourage you to take public transportation, a cab/Uber/Lyft, walk, or have a designated driver.

August Third Thursday

On Thursday August 15th, 2019, over two dozen men joined us at Beaux Bar for MAX’s Third Thursday. Check out members of the group enjoying the evening!).

September New Member Brunch

On Sunday September 22nd, 2019, MAX SF Chairman Mike Barsul and MAX SF Programs and Events Chair Nick Wade held a New Member Brunch at Catch (2362 Market St, between 16th and 17th streets).

New Member Brunches are held periodically to welcome our newest dues- paying members to MAX SF. Join today at!

September Elegant Brunch: The Garden Court at the Palace Hotel

On Sunday September 8th, 2019, nine men from MAX joined MAX SF Communications Chair Paul Munro for an Elegant Brunch at one of the most majestic places to eat in San Francisco, the Garden Court at the landmark historic Palace Hotel.

This event continued our summer monthly event series “Elegant Brunch” in which MAX explores the many opportunities to enjoy an elegant weekend brunch in San Francisco.

The group had a great time getting to know each other while enjoying the majestic setting, live music, and their delicious Sunday brunch selections.

September Wooftop Wednesday: Spirts in the Sky at the Loews Regency

On Wednesday September 11th, 2019, over 40 men from MAX joined MAX SF Programs and Events Chair Nick Wade for cocktails at Spirits in the Sky.

Located on the Loews Regency Sky Deck, Spirits in the Sky is the highest outdoor bar in San Francisco.

Held on the second Wednesday of each month, MAX SF explores the rooftop bars of San Francisco in an event series we’re calling Wooftop Wednesdays with Nick Wade.

The group from MAX had a great time enjoying cocktails while taking in the stunning panoramic views of San Francisco.

August My Favorite Place: Catch

On Tuesday August 13th, 2019, 14 men from MAX joined Jerry Tusan for dinner at one of his favorite places, Catch (2362 Market St, between 16th and 17th streets).

My Favorite Place is our monthly dinner series. Each month a MAX member selects one of their favorite restaurants to introduce to the MAX community.

July Wooftop Wednesday: Spirts in the Sky at the Loews Regency

On Wednesday, July10 th , 2019, about 15 men from MAX met for cocktails at Spirits in the Sky, located on the Loews Regency Sky Deck, the highest outdoor venue in San Francisco.

Held on the second Wednesday of each month, MAX SF explores the rooftop bars of San Francisco in an event series we’re calling Wooftop Wednesdays.

The group from MAX had a great time together enjoying cocktails while taking in the stunning panoramic views of San Francisco.

July Elegant Brunch: The Rotunda at Neiman Marcus

On the first Saturday of July 2019, a group from MAX joined MAX SF Programs and Events Chair Nick Wade for an Elegant Brunch at one of the classiest places to eat in San Francisco, the Rotunda at Neiman Marcus San Francisco.

The sold-out July 6th brunch was the premier of a new monthly event series “Elegant Brunch”, in which Nick Wade explores the many opportunities to enjoy an elegant weekend brunch in San Francisco.

The group had a great time getting to know each other and enjoying the fine-dining atmosphere and delicious menu selections.

MAX Pool Party in the East Bay

On Saturday June 22nd MAX held our first pool party of 2019. 22 men joined MAX at the Walnut Creek home of MAX members Andrew and Anthony starting at 2pm.

The temperature was 92 degrees. Plenty of cold beer, margaritas, sangria, wine, and soft drinks were provided and the guys had a relaxing fun time.

Our hosts Andrew and Anthony prepared a veritable feast, a buffet of delicious Mexican food.

Pool games were organized by Anthony starting at 4pm.

Three winners won prizes!

The pool party was a great afternoon of fun, relaxation, and great food!

My Favorite Place: The Blind Butcher

On Sunday June 16th, Jerry Tusan introduced MAX to one of his favorite places, The Blind Butcher. The Blind Butcher is the Castro’s newest premier steak house located on 18th St between Castro and Hartford Streets. The Blind Butcher features a casual and comfortable vibe with a menu that offers hearty main dishes (including both vegan and vegetarian options).

The event sold out with 14 members of the MAX community attending (we filled their largest table). It was a fun time, great food, and great venue!

The MAX group with our waiter Miguel
(who was very popular with the group!)

Memorial Day Weekend In Ashland!

On Friday, May 24th, 2019, fourteen MAX members traveled up to Ashland Oregon for a delightful weekend adventure organized by MAX champion Lorenzo Taylor. After the six-hour journey by van, the group settled into their cottages and gathered Friday evening for a relaxing dinner at the Brickworks.

On Saturday morning, some participants learned more about the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (OSF) during an informative backstage tour, while others relaxed at a Japanese spa or checked out the Creekside farmers and artisans market.

After a lovely alfresco lunch on the banks of the Rogue River near Grants Pass, the group meandered through the lush Applegate Valley and stopped at Valley View winery for a winetasting.

That evening, the group saw “As You Like It” the first of three productions at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. Most of the group thought it was thoroughly entertaining with some stellar performances, music, and staging. The female director chose to do several gender-bending twists, including a male coupling.

The group had Sunday brunch and a trolley tour in the nearby historic Gold Rush town of Jacksonville and returned in time for the afternoon matinee of “Hairspray”. The show was uplifting, energetic, and fun, with great vocals and in a groundbreaking more, it featured a differently-able actress in a leading role and some of the group attended a talk back discussion with a lead actress after the play.

Before the Sunday evening performance, the group gathered for an elegant dinner at colorful Hearsay Restaurant.

The final performance was “Mother Road”, which imagined the Joads of today in a sequel to John Steinbeck’s “Grapes of Wrath.” Another well- executed performance, but a little unsettling. As one MAXer observed, “Nicely staged, powerful acting from the old man character. You feel like you are in another world, you can almost taste the dust. In the end we have an unlikely rag tag band of folks finishing a journey not unlike the Wizard of Oz.”

The group returned to the Carlise Garden Suites and spent a while dissecting some of the themes over Applegate Valley wines.

It was a wonderful weekend filled with new friends, great performances, intimate conversations, and great food.

Bourbon Tasting in San Francisco

Thank you to Bruce Cecil and Phil Carberry for a great bourbon tasting event on May 18th, 2019. The event was held at a MAX member’s glamorous penthouse on Telegraph Hill.

As one MAX member said, “I tasted more Bourbon last night than in the past year”.

There was a good crowd, the Kentucky Derby Burgoo stew was outstanding, and everyone had a great time!!

The results for the tasting were:

  • Elijah Craig – 7 votes
  • Woodford Reserve – 5 votes
  • Makers Mark  – 4 votes
  • Knob Creek – 1 vote
  • Bulleit, Jack Daniels, and Jim Beam – 0 votes

April Wooftop Wednesday With Nick Wade: Rooftop 25

On Wednesday, April 10th, 2019, a group from MAX enjoyed cocktails, conversations, and views at Rooftop 25. This was the second of our new series Wooftop Wednesdays with MAX SF Programs and Events Chair Nick Wade, in which Nick invites MAX along as he explores the rooftop bars of San Francisco.

DTLA (Downtown Los Angeles)

On the weekend of March 29th - 31st, 2019, MAX member Phil Carberry led a small group of MAX members on a trip to explore Downtown Los Angeles (DTLA).

The group enjoyed exploring the rooftop bars of DTLA as well as a walking tour which included the iconic Bradbury Building. One member made it to The Broad, LA’s most in-demand contemporary art museum.

Here are MAX members Bob McGuire, Greg Williams, and Phil Carberry at the 15th floor Perch Rooftop Bar.

Here is event champion Phil Carberry and MAX member Greg Williams at the Ace Hotel rooftop bar along with a view from the rooftop.

This is a photo of the iconic Bradbury Building from their walking tour.

The group was very pleased with the accommodations, beautiful public spaces, bars, and restaurants at the stunning restored Beaux Arts Millennium Biltmore Hotel, recommended by MAX’s travel consultant, David Petlin.

MAX Went to the Theatre: Steve and Pre-Show Brunch

On Sunday March 31st, 2019, members of MAX went to see the New Conservatory Theatre Center (NCTC) production of the tragicomedy Steve.

Before the show, some of the MAX attendees met for brunch at Revelry Bistro, a nearby Hayes Valley French-inspired bistro. The food was wonderful, the atmosphere was casual, and the service was professional, friendly and quick. The group had a great time meeting and socializing over Sunday brunch before heading over to the NCTC theatre.

At the NCTC full-service bar, the staff had thoughtfully reserved a table for our group and had even gone out of the way to produce a custom sign for MAX based on the graphic used for the Steve program.

After enjoying cocktails and refreshments at the NCTC bar the group posed for one last photo before enjoying the NCTC production.

The New Conservatory Theatre Center (25 Van Ness Street, San Francisco), is the premier LGBTQ theatre center in San Francisco.

For any questions regarding future MAX events at NCTC or regarding the MAX discount code offered by NCTC, please contact MAX SF Programs and Events Chair Nick Wade at

My Favorite Place - Dinner at Beretta

On Sunday April 7th, a large group from MAX joined our new Chairman, Tom Frank, to enjoy a curated culinary dinner at one of Tom’s favorite places, Beretta. Our group of twenty was seated at one long table in the middle of the restaurant. We enjoyed a five course Italian dinner “family style”.

We sampled a variety of contemporary Italian dishes including eggplant caponatina, arugula & fennel salad with shaved parmesan, pizzas (Italian sausage with marinara, béchamel and green onions, and pear pancetta with gorgonzola and caramelized onions), and short ribs. Just as we thought there couldn’t be more food, another course was brought out.

To complement the delicious culinary experience, we also enjoyed a number of very fine wines from Tom’s wine cellar that he brought along to share with the group.

The most meaningful part of the evening was the opportunity to get to know other members of the MAX community while sharing a fine dinner. At Beretta, the pacing of the dishes was ideal, as the staff kept the dishes coming out but provided pauses just long enough to provide an opportunity to get up and visit with MAX members at a different part of the table.

We were thankful to Tom for introducing us to Beretta. Multiple MAX members commented about the positive energy at Beretta, the great food, and the friendly and excellent service.

For dessert, we had a special treat. Our oldest MAX member, Gordon Deegan, was celebrating his 94th birthday. MAX COO Stuart McFaul arranged for a fabulous cake (white and gold with lemon curd filling, Swiss meringue buttercream frosting, with decorations of white chocolate and pearl and gold sprinkles). Gordon loved his cake (as did everyone else)!

Want to introduce MAX members to your favorite place? Contact Nick Wade at

584 Castro Street #672
San Francisco, CA 94114

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