Thursday, May 29, 2008


Recently I got the notion in my head that it might be interesting to try deconstructing beer via such things as infusions, bitters, tinctures, etc. and rebuilding the holy brew in my own graven cocktail image. Of course, I had to bounce ideas off Rob (obvious piece of advice I almost certainly would have overlooked -- Don't even think about trying to buy hops), and in the midst of our off and on conversations I came across a spirit of some non-trivial interest.

Essential Spirits, based just a stones train ride from San Francisco in Mountain View, is producing a little something they call Bierschnaps. They brew their own California style Pale Ale, and then distil it into a spirit they claim is similar to Vodka. I really hope this is just marketing speak as it seems a shame to go to all the trouble to brew your own beer only to distill it into flavorless dreck. What really interests me most about Bierschnaps is that beer and whiskey begin their lives the same, so the idea of a whiskey, turned into a beer, then into a different spirit grips my heart like some sort of grippy thing.

I looked over their site to see where I might procure some of this delightful dram, but was unable to locate any mention of outlets. A quickly answered e-mail to the company turned up some bad news -- It seems nobody in the city stocks Bierschnaps. The closest place for me to get it is Ledgers Liquors in Berkeley, but I don’t really see myself BARTing out there. I'm also pretty hesitant to mail order something which runs about $35 and could be a total bust. I know I should be a bit more adventurous, but for those of us on a fairly tight booze budget adventure isn't our middle name (it's Ferdinand by the way).

So the questions of the day are these -- Has anybody out there tried this product? If so, what did you think? More importantly might any locals know any bars that have this on their shelves that I might avail myself of a taste?

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

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

34) The Tiberius Cocktail

2 oz. Hendrick's Gin
1 oz. Square One Cucumber Vodka
.5 oz. Lillet Blanc
Two dashes Regan's Orange Bitters

Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Stir until well chilled, strain into a cocktail glass, and garnish with a cucumber wheel.

Upon my fresh arrival at the bar, Ed was quick to call my attention to a newly acquired bottle of Square One Cucumber Vodka which he proclaimed surprisingly tasty. Now, I'm pretty wary of flavored Vodkas as I am generally of the opinion that it's always a better idea to muddle the flavor into your drink rather than use infusions (exceptions, of course, abound). Also, having been the victim of curiosity once, and just having to try some Seagrams Wild Grape Vodka, I can tell you that almost always what these "people" think of as "flavor" is clearly an attempt by the Mole-People to soften us up in advance of their impending invasion.

There are, however, some exceptions -- Most notably the infused Vodkas being made by Hanger One, and, as it turns out, the Cucumber Vodka being made by Square One. Having had house infused cucumber Vodka before, I knew that if they did it right they would have a nice product on their hands as I've always found cucumber to be a particularly refreshing note. Thankfully it turned out to be pretty damn tasty.

My immediate thought was that it would be interesting to try it in a version of the Vesper. One of the things that has always irked me about that drink is that there are two delicious ingredients, and one thing that doesn't have anything to offer. As we turned our attention to which Gin we would use, Ed came up with an idea that you've probably already figured out. Why not go all cucumber and use the delicious Hendrick's?

The end result was somewhat middle of the road -- It wasn't so bad that it fell into the category of being dumped down the sink never to be spoken of (or blogged about) again and had its tasty merits, yet at the same time it really wasn't that great. The addition of the bitters definitely helped to lift the drink (thank you bitters!), and it wasn't the cucumber overload that I had worried about, however it still had problems. The Lillet was pretty much lost in the explosion of flavors, and the overall drink just felt kind of fussy, and missing that certain something.

So -- Not terrible, but needs that magical little nudge that we just weren't able to pin down. If any of y'all have any ideas for a tweak by all means sock it to us.

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

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

San Francisco Cocktail Week: This is What Could Possibly Go Wrong

Monday was the closing event for Cocktail Week - An evening of drinks and eats at the venerated Absinthe. I got there fairly early which afforded me the opportunity to get a good look at the drink menu figuring I would need to choose my drinks wisely in order to be able to end the evening with my wits about me. Fortunately for the blog's content level, I didn't so much as recognize a single person in the room (Ed had to work at his stupid job), and after a brief consultation with my attorney, decided that I would need to try all the cocktails.

Starting off was easy when I spotted the ingredients in the SR-1660 - Cachaça, Aperol, bitters, rosemary, and cherry gastrique. It was the gastrique that really caught my eye as I have a tendency to view cocktails from a bit of a culinary angle so ideas like this are always guaranteed to make me take a second look. The use of vinegar in cocktails also seems to be a trend that is getting ready to bust out, and having not had a vinegarized drink up till then it seemed like fate had commanded me. Frankly I'm still trying to figure out how I feel about this drink. It tasted quite good, and the cherry gastrique was front and center which lent it a very nice tart cherry element. On the other hand, I didn't really get a sense of what the other ingredients were doing in the drink.

I've become quite a fan of Aperol, and thought it would be an interesting counterpoint to the gastrique, but never got a sense of its presence in the overall flavor. Likewise, the rosemary seemed to be nowhere to be found. The thing is, a good cocktail is alchemy in a glass - The whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and as such I really can't bring myself to think that the drink would have been as good as it was had one or more of those parts been missing or replaced. This is one I'd definitely like to play with, and see how it's affected by the removal of various parts.

Next up was The Darb cocktail - I had actually seen this recipe (Gin, Apricot Liqueur, Dry Vermouth, and lemon juice) a while back while browsing through The Savoy Cocktail Book, and was happy to get a chance to give it a go. I liked this one quite a bit even though it was a bit dryer than I normally like in my drinks, but that's really just a personal taste thing. The Gin and the liqueur paired beautifully with the sweet, fruity notes of the liqueur, providing a great compliment to the botanicals of the Gin.

Then it was off to try The Imbibe Cocktail. This one was an eyebrow raising brew of Scotch, blackberry liqueur, and Xocolatl Mole Bitters - My eyebrows were raised for two reasons. First, I've never really been that big a fan of Scotch based drinks. I find that in almost all cases I would rather be drinking the Scotch straight. Second, I have heard much about the Bitterman's bitters, but they are unfortunately not available yet, so the chance to see them in action was right up my alley.

I'm happy to report that this turned out to be my favorite drink of the evening. The three ingredients worked together so perfectly it was insane. The Scotch blended smoothly with the liqueur taking some of the emphasis off the Scotch (a good thing for my palate) while complimenting the complex Whiskeyness (which is totally a word). Most surprising was the subtle chocolate kick the bitters gave. I was kind of worried that the chocolate element would be out of place here, but it meshed with the blackberry without being too overbearing. I need more of these. Like now.

I should probably take a moment to also mention that I might have been using Sazeracs as a pallet cleanser. I can assure you all that it's not my fault. It's just, well, I love me some Sazerac, and they were just so damn perfectly delicious. And really, all this drinking wasn't for me. It was for you, our dear and much beloved readers.

Winding down the evening (finally!) was the Mexican't. To be honest I was pretty much over scribbling down notes in my little black booze book, but I can tell you the main components in the drink were Partida Tequila, and Kubler Absinthe. The Kubler was very much the dominant flavor in this drink, which for me wasn't a plus. Not being much of a fan of anise, Absinthe is the sort of thing that I like in very small amounts in my cocktails (see Sazerac above), though I should mention that the St. George Absinthe is an exception. That stuff blows me away. Though in hindsight I probably shouldn't have had a glass of it that evening.

I can't imagine anybody is still reading this, but I hope they are as I have a couple of sundry things to talk about before signing off.

1) The food provided by Chef Jamie Lauren was great. If I weren't too pretty for prison I would kidnap her, "Misery" style, just to have steady access to the best deep fried pickles IN THE UNIVERSE.

2) I'd like to offer my apologies to those folks upon whom, near the end of the evening, I inflicted Hurricane Alex on. Thank you for not punching me in the stomach.

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

Monday, May 19, 2008

San Francisco Cocktail Week: Literature, Booze, and History.

After taking a few days off to recover from Tuesday's opening festivities, I thought Saturday's event on booze, history, and the writing about it would be a calm change of pace.

It's a miracle I'm still alive.

I arrived at the Hotel Rex a little bit early and found several folks milling about, snacking on the surprisingly tasty nibbles that were being provided, and was shocked (shocked I tell you!) to also find there was a drink station set up. Duggan McDonnell was behind the bar (desk?) dishing out Cantina's version of the legendary Pisco Punch along with his characteristic bon motts. While the drinking/milling about was going on, I had the pleasure of meeting Natalie Bovis-Nelsen, a.k.a The Liquid Muse, who I didn't get to talk with as much as I would have liked, but she was quite nice to this unknown blogger.

After we had all been sufficiently fortified with drink, the talk began - Among the panelists were living encyclopedia David Wondrich, and local wine, spirit, cocktail and root beer writer, and gad about town Jordan Mackay. I was most interested in the dichotomy between Jordan as a focus on writing about the state of cocktails today, and David as the generator of legions of rabid fan boys/girls through his recently penned historical tour de force "Imbibe" (this, of course, is a pretty unfair characterization of David, as I'm ignoring his must read work in Esquire, but you get the idea). A bit of a throwaway line from David made me want to corner him, and pick his brain dry. All too briefly he touched on how he walks a line between being too "academic", and making his prose entertaining, and accessible to those who are not as insanely geeky as some of us.

Of course, no cocktail centric affair would be complete without a boozy after party, so following the talk everybody headed next door to Sub-level Ocelot at Cantina. In what seems to be a concerted effort to be everywhere these days, David Nepove (or one of his clones?) was manning the plank at the mini bar. Both the Pisco Punch and the Soiree were on the special menu so I had to indulge in one of each. Really, who can have too much Pisco Punch? I also had an excellent Pisco Sour, and anybody who tells you they saw me doing shots of Chartreuse, or being complicit in installing the hangover that Jordan may have had on Sunday is totally not telling the truth.

Best of all I was finally able to meet Erik - We had crossed paths a couple of times previously, but I was unaware that he was him until after he was gone so it was good to finally pin him down. He, Jordan, and I had a fantastic conversation about (of course) blogging as well as things various and sundry (in case you had any doubts, that guy knows his shit). All in all it was a great way to wrap up the evening, and ended too quickly when some out of town friends called me up to see if I wanted to meet them, that's right, for a drink.

It is my sincerest hope that having lived through Saturday, I should be able to safely make it through the closing event at Absinth tonight. These sorts of things tend to activate the social anxiety in me, so if you see a guy standing in the corner, smiling nervously, and drinking cocktails at a fantastic rate come on over and say hi. I'll probably scream like a little girl. It'll be hilarious.

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

Friday, May 16, 2008

Beat the Heat, The Caipirinha Way!

Many San Franciscans carry a dark, binary secret - They are terrified of rain, and thoroughly befuddled by heat. In those times in which temperatures climb past the 75 degree mark, a mark etched in cold flames across Mount Sutro by the elder Gods themselves, an eldritch confusion begins to settle on many of the populace. At its worst people will find themselves incapable of speaking of anything other than the obviously enraged day ball - The source of great suffering. Their will is crushed.

"Hey man, is your mom still in the hospital? How are you holding up?"
"Can you believe how fucking hot it is today?"
"I know!"

Those fellow drink geeks who dabble in the mystifying realm of beer make haste to wrap themselves in the gentle, loving arms of classic summer beers. Those of us, however, who follow a more spirituous path, seek succor within the cool shade of cocktails created to beat the heat. The undisputed reigning king of cool down drinks is, of course, the Mint Julep. A fine drink indeed (though Ed continues to claim that he doesn't like mint in his bourbon. Because he's crazy), but I was nevertheless on a different quest to beat the 90-degree-why-is-this-happening-to-me heat as I shambled towards Cantina wondering if it was worth the pain to rip the beard off my face.

I knew that my salvation rested in Brazil's national cocktail. A work of elegant genius. The Caipirinha.

3oz. Cachaça
1 teaspoon sugar
1 lime (quartered)

In an Old Fashioned glass muddle the lime and the sugar until the sugar is fully dissolved. Add the Cachaça and ice, and stir till chilled.

All apologies to the Mint Julep, but this is the drink that's keeping me cool these days.

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

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

San Francisco Cocktail Week: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?

Last night marked the inception of San Francisco Cocktail Week with a launch gala at the famous Starlight Room located in the Sir Francis Drake Hotel. It took a while for the crowd to reach full bloom as the elevators were slow and tiny, but the room filled to capacity soon enough. Nothing gets a turnout like telling San Francisco there are free drinks somewhere. The crowd was eclectic to say the least, composed of local cocktail luminaries, hipsters (overheard cell phone conversation - "Just get down here, all you have to do is sign some guest book and you get two free drinks. Who cares what it's for?"), and an octogenarian who thought the ice and water the bar tender had put in his martini glass to chill it was the martini and took several sips before he had it taken away and filled with martini.

Ed and I took a quick glance at the drink menu and both settled on the Starlight Room original, the Cable Car - Invented by Tony Abou-Ganim in '96 while he was working at the Starlight, it's a uniquely San Francisco drink. One which Ed and I weren't really wowed by. To be fair, the main problem was the crowd - While the bar was fully staffed, the wall of humanity at the bar which seemed to materialize out of thin air all at once was amazing.

I've seen friends of mine four deep at the bar, clinging to life by a thread while beating back the hordes of thirsty (and demanding) wolves, but it was just insane. So it's not surprising that the drinks felt a little rushed, we both felt they weren't as chilled as they should have been nor did they quite have the level of dilution that they needed. Though really, we were being a bit nitpicky there. The only real misstep Ed and I found in the drink was the cinnamon sugar rim. I know that's the touch that's supposed to really make it, but we found that the cinnamon added a less than stellar contrast to the overall beverage.

Next up I went for their variation on the Martinez because, well, how can I turn down Maraschino? This one was perfect - Things had calmed down at the bar a bit and the bar tenders were able to spend a little more time with the drinks. It's funny to me that some times in the debate about the origin of a particular drink, those which are believed to be the primordial ancestors are skipped over in the rush to keep focused on the modern drink at hand. The Martinez is a great example of why it's sometimes good to take a moment to step back, drop by Grandpa's house, and listen to him tell you how easy kids have it these days. And they do.

There was a couple of brief, ceremonial speeches made by Harry Denton, Duggan McDonnell, and Tony Abou-Ganim after which Ed and I had pretty much had enough of the crowds. Making our way out of the hotel we were talking about how we were totally going to go home. Until Ed spotted the hotel bar. "You want to grab another
drink?" the bastard asked. Having heard good things about the recently opened Bar Drake it seemed like a great idea. I went right of the Golden Hind, a tasty looking mixture of Plymouth Gin, Green Chartreuse, St. Germain, lemon juice, and pineapple juice - Clearly they knew I was going to be stopping by and threw something on the menu just for me. Rumors that the drinks were delicious enough, and the bartender friendly enough to keep us around for more than just one drink are spurious lies.

Overall it was a great way to kick off a week that should promise to be a lot of fun. The only bad thing about the evening is that, in my role as "guy who has a stupid day job," I was unable to attend the after-after party at Beretta. Duggan tried his best though, "Come on guys, drinks and food at Beretta. It'll be a great time, you really should come by." Fuck you, Duggan.

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

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Wine, Wine - Cocktails?

Last night I met up with my friend James for a quick drink before he had to run off to some sort of a wine event. When I pressed him as to what the event specifically was, all he knew was that it was sort of a trade affair, and that mixologist at large David Nepove would be there on behalf of Southern Wine and Spirits. When he asked me if I wanted to come along, I was certainly ready to go, but the part where it was trade only seemed fairly daunting. Thanks, however, to his kind employer (James recently got himself a few shifts behind the bar at the recent Magnet Lounge space) I was able to wrangle my way in.

The event was taking place in your generic hotel ballroom, and was packed with various wine vendors displaying their wares for tasting. The embarrassment of wine riches was a sight to behold, but I was there for the hard stuff. Mostly because wine is my secret weakness. I can fake like I know what I'm talking about with beer, and I think I've got just enough cocktail and spirits knowledge to have moderately intelligent conversations, but when it comes to wine I am naught but a simpering fool.

David's booth was easy to find as it seemed to be the most popular in the room. I suspect most people weren't expecting there to be cocktails at a wine oriented show, but by the look of things they weren't too disappointed. Looking at the crowd from afar I realized I was going to have to come up with some sort of strategy to get close to the drinks. It was going to have be a plan of simple elegance. A plan which, once set in motion, would emerge a juggernaut. It would be mistaken for nothing other than sheer genius! Or I could just push my way through.

The only real downside to the event was that David was not allowed to serve full cocktails. This meant that people were forced to straw taste all of the drinks, which was not only a bit messy, but frustrating for those of us who couldn't figure out a way to steal a whole drink and get out the door across the room un-tackled by security. Nevertheless I wielded my straw like a dagger (1d6, +4 Liver Damage) and dove headlong into the fray for my first taste.

I asked David what I should try first and he definitively pointed to a concoction garnished with a hot pepper (you can actually make it out in that shitty camera phone photo) he was calling Sweet Heat. I'm generally a bit wary about drinks with heat components as it is far too easy to overdo it and kill the drink, but this drink was a fine exception, as the heat was perfectly balanced the base Anejo Tequila, and the surprise for me, Navan (a Cognac-based vanilla liqueur) which bridged the heat and the Tequila nicely. Then there was the Cucumber Gimlet which did a great job of showcasing cucumbers imminently mixable nature, and preternatural refreshing abilities. I also had the chance to dig into a Blackberry Bramble which was far too delicious for its own good. I think I might have asked it if it wanted to go catch a movie or something after the event.

In case you're wondering how it is I suddenly seem to have a decent memory, many of the drinks that were out were printed out on a handy flyer that I was quick to grab. Sadly for my unprepared self, there were many other fantastic drinks for which I have forgotten the particulars, including a kick ass strawberry concoction, and a surprising peach tipple. Surprising because it was made with Absolut Peach - As much as I'm not a fan of flavored Vodka this one was rather tasty, and had some nice, subtle nuances.

Generally speaking, I can say it was the best wine event I've ever been to.

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

Monday, May 12, 2008

33) The Modena

2 oz. Eagle Rare Bourbon
.5 oz. Nocino Walnut Liqueur
.5 oz. Cynar

Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake until chilled, and garnish with a flamed orange peel.

Ed and I were out grabbing a drink last week when he told me he had an idea for our next libation. The bar had recently received a bit of Monteverdi Nocino, and it had given him an idea to make a dessert drink that would mimic the flavors of walnut ice cream. We bandied about ideas for a while, and both vowed to remember what we had come up with.

Flash forward to the weekend.

Me: "So!"
Ed: "Arg! What?"
Me: "How 'bout we mix us up a drink? Do you, uh, remember what we had decided on trying?"
Ed: "Not really. Nocino - ice creamy?"

So, yeah, that really worked out.

As we began the process of reconstructing the drink we started to lose enthusiasm for the idea of doing a dessert drink. Fortunately we were still quite keen on using the Nocino, so we turned our attention to the more pressing matter of getting some lipstick on that pig. Having had (and seen) several iterations of Manhattans using Amero's in lieu the standard bitters, I thought riffing off that riff would be rifftastic. Riff!

Our primary concern was that the Nocino would be a pretty sweet addition, so we picked a bourbon with a pretty good kick to offset that possibility. The results were somewhat surprising to me as I had doubts as to how well the Nocino would work with the bourbon. To my moderate surprise they worked very well together. The bourbon was most prominent, but the Nocino left nice, mild notes of walnut on the finish, and the Cynar stayed very much in the background while working its bitter mojo to elevate the overall drink.

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

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Scarlet Ibis Rum

Not too long ago I stopped by one of the local "upscale" liquor stores in town to inquire if they knew anything about a possible release date for the much anticipated (at least by me) release of Plymouth Sloe Gin here in the states. The results were fairly disappointing, not because I didn't like the answer, but that's another story. Anyway, as I was walking out I eyed the bottles along their shelves looking for anything that I hadn't seen the last time I was there. As I passed by the rum section, a bottle with the name Scarlet Ibis caught my attention.

I paused to examine the bottle a bit more, and noticed that it had the Death and Company name on it. That, along with the name of the spirit, triggered vague and intriguing memories. I quickly stuffed them back in the closet as my drink budget (along with most of my other budgets) was currently depleted. When next I was near a comp-u-terminal, I decided to fully refresh my memory as to where I had heard of this rum.

Turned out that Scarlet Ibis is a rum which was specifically imported by the good folks at Haus Alpenz when Death and Company came asking around for a higher proof rum that would suit their specific cocktail needs. Unfortunately I also found that it is available in very limited quantities. Unfortunate for me as I have a bit of a problem when it comes to passing up anything that is limited in quantity. I can't remember the childhood trauma that surely was the root of this issue, but its strength has never slowed.

The next day I was back in the store, holding a bottle of Scarlet Ibis Rum, and thinking to myself I really shouldn't be buying this. It was a thought that echoed in my head all the through its purchase.

Anticipation was at a fairly high level by the time I got home and cracked the bottle. I poured a little sample, and took it for a test sniff. Clocking in at 98 proof, it didn't have as much of kick on the nose that I thought it would. A good omen for sure - Good enough for me to get to sippin'! OH GOD THE BURNING! Really, it was right off the bat, fire in my mouth. Given that I'm a regular drinker of such high proof beauties as Rittenhouse Bonded, and George T. Stagg's barrel strength powerhouse I didn't expect such a punch in the throat. The burning subsided, and I finally got a hint of the rum itself, but just as I was wrapping my taste buds around it - the burning came back and never went away.

Needless to say, I was feeling pretty disappointed in my purchase, but I trust the folks at Death and Co. to know much more what they are doing than I, so I decided to give it a try in a cocktail - The classic Daiquiri.

I'm sorry I ever doubted you Death and Co., the Daiquiri was fantastic. The edge I got cut by in the straight tasting was magnificently smoothed out by the other ingredients, leaving just the molasses and spice notes standing up exceptionally to the tart of the lime.

Now I just have to get over the terror of drinking it all and being left bereft of deliciousness. Yeah, I'm kind of weird.

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

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

32) Sailor Berry

2 oz. Sailor Jerry Rum
.5 oz. Blueberry Stoli
.5 oz. Simple Syrup
Handful of Blueberries
Allspice Dram

Muddle the blueberries and simple syrup in a Boston shaker, add all but the Allspice Dram and shake till chilled. Strain into an Old Fashioned glass rinsed with the Dram and filled with fresh ice. Garnish with 3-4 skewered blueberries.

Those of you who have been with us since the inception of our little experiment (hi Jen, Mom, and Emperor Pugpatine!) may recall that one of the earliest drinks we concocted followed the futile attempt to utilize blueberries to satisfy Ed's desire to have a drink called Sailor Berry (a desire I must admit I shared). It seems that almost a year later we didn't learn our lesson, cause here we are again.

We decided to give it another go, as the bar had some particularly nice blueberries that we thought would be more flavorful than the somewhat anemic fellows we had at our disposal last time around. Sadly, after Ed muddled up the berries with the simple syrup, we found that the problem was likely not to be going away anytime soon. I imagine that there are those who have better luck with blueberries, but (as of this writing) we are not those people.

While wondering if we should just abandon ship (see what I did there? Sailor? Abandon ship?) and avoid a repeat of failures past, Ed suggested we bolster the blueberry flavor with some Blueberry Stoli. I was a bit hesitant as Blueberry Stoli doesn't taste so much like blueberries as blueberry flavoring, but Ed eventually won me over with his wit and charm. We thought the finished cocktail was - Ok. The Allspice Dram was a nice background note, and holy shit is it a potent flavor. I had suggested we only use a rinse, and there was no doubt that any more would have been way too much. The fortification of the Blueberry Stoli wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but this would be a much better drink with a real homemade blueberry infusion. Or, uh, a ton more blueberries?

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

Friday, May 2, 2008

Field Trip - Beretta

The buzz about the cocktail program for the recently opened Beretta built fairly quickly. Word had it that several of the city's top bartenders would be manning the plank. After hearing a fair amount of post-opening praise for the drinks, I finally got my ass over there a few weeks ago. If I had any worries that the place might not live up to the hype, they vanished instantly upon my sitting down and glimpsing the shining beacon of tasty cocktails that is Erik Adkins of Slanted Door fame.

Perusing the menu, it took me about 6 seconds to lock onto the Dolores Park Swizzle. Rum, lime, maraschino, absinthe, and bitters? Yes please! I really need to either get a better camera phone, or start lugging the digital camera Ed lent me around cause this is a seriously good looking drink. Erik explained that the drink would be a bit "hot" at first, and advised me that I might want to give it a little bit of time for the crushed ice to melt in and mellow the drink. If you've learned anything about me by now, you already know that I didn't wait one damn second to hit that bad boy.

It was quite tasty, but it was indeed hot, and I got the feeling that the ingredients weren't quite showing each other the love yet. So I grudgingly decided to wait a few seconds as Erik recommended. Those were some painful seconds, but I was richly rewarded, because the Dolores Park Swizzle is flat out, fucking amazing. The aromatics from the mint and bitters made for a fantastic lead in to the drink itself. As the ice melted more, the bitters slowly leached into the drink adding an extra layer of flavor that kept it from tasting too watered down. Not that it was around long enough for the ice to melt.

As I was happily sipping away on my Swizzle, I was glancing over the menu thinking about what I would get next. It was not an easy decision to make seeing as all the drinks on the menu looked good, and the first made it painfully obvious that these folks were executing them with insane precision. Fortunately, fate took the choice out of my hand as Erik popped over to see how the drink was, and promptly insisted that I would have to have an Agricole Mule before I left. Whatever you say sir!

A simple combination of rum, lime, ginger, and mint this drink was a great example of the simple cocktail. I could definitely see the (I assume) homage to the classic Moscow Mule (a fantastic cocktail in its own right), but unlike it's ancestor, this drink brought a little more to the party.

I wanted to stick around for some more (Rattlesnake or Monte Carlo anybody?), but sadly the time had come for me to go. Oh well, guess I'll just have to go back. Life is hard.

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