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 - Cacha├ža, 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.


MetaGrrrl said...

I agree with these tasting notes - loved the Imbibe Cocktail - except I didn't try the Mexican't.

Did you get any of that hamachi crudo? Wow! Extra yum.

drinkaweek said...

Thanks, it's nice to know I get these things right some times:)

I was a bit wary of the Mexican’t, but was trying to get through all the drinks on the menu – In retrospect I probably should have picked the Drunken Monkee instead, but I pretty much always stay clear of Vodka drinks.

I didn’t even see the hamachi. Now I’m wondering what else I didn’t see. Clearly I’ll need to be more vigilant next year!