Saturday, July 31, 2010


No, not the fast food joint; although Arby's is half way decent in the grand scheme of "grab and go" chow. I'm actually referring to R. B. Hayden, a brand of bourbon distributed by Barner & Kehlenbech.

Their cylinders are embossed Barner & Kehlenbech / large intertwined logo / San Francisco, Cal. and are always tooled. They come in shades of amber and were blown with either a long tapered collar over single ring or with a Riley patent inside thread closure, which is scarcer. The cylinders were used first. Later on, probably in the mid teens, an amber rectangular full quart tanker appeared. It's actually pretty darned rare and I've never even seen one.

Seems that they liked the initials RB, since both of their flagship brands started with them. R.B. Hayden and R.B. Blair were the two that they pushed the hardest. There's three etched pre-pro glasses for R.B. Blair and one for R. B. Hayden known to exist. And, there's one extremely scarce white enameled back bar out there for Hayden as well.

The pattern on the back bar is a dead match for the glass. Enameled bar bottles are inherently rare. They were designed to be the focal point of the back bar, were splashy and intended to be used and reused on a permanent basis. They were expensive to produce compared to their embossed "throw away" counterparts and as such were almost never discarded until inadvertently broken, or until such time as the brand or the business failed. The elaborate patterns and artistic features of this style of bottle make them highly sought after and the competition for them is keen.
Now back to B&K. Up until now, not a great deal was known about Barner and Kehlenbech, despite the fact that they were relative newcomers to the game. Today's research revealed a lot of heretofore unknown locations and information.

Wilson states that the partners were Wm. Barner. and Henry Kehlenbeck. He was wrong. The partners were actually Louis H. Barner and Henry Kehlenbeck. Although dated from 1910 to 1918 in Western Whiskey Bottles 4th edition, they actually got their start in 1898 at the S.W. Corner of 8th and Mission. They moved to 324 Clay St. in 1900, where they remained until the site ended up in ashes on April 18, 1906. The May 12, 1906 phone directory does not list them, indicating that they had been displaced along with tens of thousands of others who'd lost their homes and businesses. A third edition post earthquake temporary directory of S.F. and Oakland dated June 20, 1907 shows them at 1801 Devisidaro at the corner of Bush, with a phone number of West 3756. Crocker Langley shows the business moving to 714 Kearny St. in late 1907. It also shows the current principals in the business as being Mrs. A. Barner and Mr. H. Keltenbeck. Later, in the 1915 directory, Mrs. A. Barner's name changed to Mrs. A. Anderson; an obvious clue to a remarriage subsequent to Louis's death. The Kearny St. location remained constant, housing the firm for another twelve years, where they remained until prohibition shut them down in 1919.

Thanks to Robin Preston for the generous use of the shot photos.

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