Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Field Trip - Slanted Door

I've been toying with the idea of doing rundowns on local cocktail joints for a while, and finally got inspired to actually do it by a recent visit to Slanted Door. Hopefully there will be more of these to follow. Unless people think they suck, in which case I'll cry. Then drink. Then move on.

A few Wednesday's ago, I took the afternoon off to hang out with my super awesome friend of awesome Jen before she left town for the wilds of Utah. Why Utah? She can afford to live off her freelance writing work there. Thanks a lot San Francisco. Fucker. Anyway, one of the things she wanted to do before she left was get one last round of oysters at Hog Island in the Ferry Plaza, which was great because one of the things I wanted to do before, whenever, was hit up Slanted Door as I have been hearing very good things about their cocktail program for a while now.

We settled in at the bar, and I greedily lunged for the drink menu. It was exactly the kind of menu I like to see - Everything looked so good I thought I was going to have a hard time deciding on what to get. It turned out to not be hard at all as my eyes landed on The Last Word cocktail. I only recently came across this drink (consisting of Gin, Maraschino liquor, Green Chartreuse, and lime juice) and it hopped on the exclusive zeppelin of my favorites the first time I tried it. Jen, having been exposed to alarming doses of my radioactive drink geekness for some time, saw quite a bit of promise in their Whiskey Cocktail (Bourbon, Angostura and orange bitters, and sugar - With a single, beautiful ice cube. Yes, cocktail nerds nerd about ice).

The drinks appeared in short order - I took a sip of mine and immediately declared it the best Last Word I've had yet. I then began a subtle campaign to get the bartender to allow me to live there. It was unsuccessful. Jen tried her drink and raved similarly. Then we swapped drinks and started raving all over again. In retrospect I imagine it was a bit of an undignified scene, two grown people fighting over who was going to get to lick the bartender first, but goddamn.

A scant few moments later the bar manager (Hi Eric!) ambled over and, what do you know, we got to talking about drinks. His enthusiasm bordered on delightful lunacy. When Jen showed some interest in an Absinth Gimlet Eric mentioned in passing as we were talking about Absinth he quickly went about mixing one up for her to try (it was delicious, of course). When I asked somewhat offhandedly that I had been thinking about picking up a bottle of Anchor Distilleries genever style Gin, he roundly proclaimed his dislike for it - Then promptly pulled out a bottle declaring, "Let's make some drinks!" I, of course, was not intimidated. At all. We were unsuccessful by the way. That shit's a pain in the ass to mix with.

I'm realizing this is going on far too long, so I'll just say the rest of our time involved an exquisite Corpse Reviver #2, Batavia Arrack, and a you-can't-leave-before-trying-one-more-drink drink. Obviously the overall experience was out of the ordinary, but the quality of the drinks, and the skill and passion of the staff was above reproach. This is the kind of shit that makes me happy as a monkey in a peanut machine to be living in San Francisco.

I also hear great things about their food. But, you know, whatever.

Comments always welcome or feel free to e-mail us at drinkaweek [at] gmail [dot] com.


erik_flannestad said...


Great to see the talented bartenders at the Slanted Door getting more kudos. Mr. Adkins et al rock.

How did you try to mix the Genevieve?

I can't believe you couldn't get a palatable "Improved Holland Gin Cocktail" out of it.

And, uh, it's a hell of a lot easier to mix with than Batavia Arrack!

Boozemonkey said...

Thanks Erik! I'd like to talk a lot more about local bartenders, this visit was enough to finally get me rolling. I was hoping nobody would mention drinks like the "Improved Holland Gin Cocktail". Given that I've been following your exploits with the Savoy, and having just finished Imbibe I knew I should be pulling out recipes like that, but my brain just failed and shamed me. I also have to admit I was pretty excited to just be able to sandbox with that kind of ingredient. We mostly tried to cut the funk of the gin with syrups and citrus. Nothing was really terrible, but far from good.

I'm with you on the Batavia Arrack - He whipped up a punch for us that had a bit of a gasoline overtone, but was an oddly compelling drink. We just couldn't leave it alone.

On an unrelated note, you and I were briefly about 2 inches away from each other that day. You came in to drop off some liqueurs. After you left, Eric said "that's the guy that's going through all the drinks in the Savoy Cocktail Book".

erik_flannestad said...


I felt a bit bad about interrupting what appeared to be a lively conversation, but needed to get home without spending too much time at Slanted Door. With such talented bartenders, it is very tempting to tarry at the bar.

I have a theory that in a certain portion of the human population, Batavia Arrack appeals directly to some part of the the brain. Almost a reflex. But, there appears also to be a portion of the population with the opposite reaction.